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by Alyssa Ramos
On my last adventure day in Iceland (sad face) I decided to road trip to the Northwestern area between Reykjavik and the West Fjords, where some local guys had recommended a cool “secret beach”. It was my fourth solo road trip in Iceland so I pretty much mastered the whole feeling comfortable stopping to look at things on my own thing, but I wasn’t entirely prepared for one impromptu stop that ended up being a troll grave cave.
Now, I don’t know if you know this, but supposedly Iceland has trolls and elves that you “can’t see”, which I just translated to “don’t exist”, but after this little encounter, I definitely changed my mind.
So anyway, I’m on my merry little way to this hidden beach called Djúpalónsandur (more on that later, this is more important), when I see a few cars parked on the side of the road and some people walking up to what seems like a giant crack in the side of a mountain.
“Waterfall??” I wondered, trying to figure out what the fuss was about without crashing on the one lane highway. But no waterfalls, I keep driving, mostly because I had to pee really bad, but couldn’t stop wondering what the hell they were looking at…
“ICE CAVE?!?! Suddenly it occurs to me that it’s freaking Iceland, and if people are going into a crack in a mountain, it’s for a damn cool reason…like an ice cave.
I made the executive decision to turn around and head back to the random spot that wasn’t on the map, park my little rental car, and start hiking up to the crack. I read the sign to figure out the name, and learned that it’s called Raudfeldar Canyon (traditionally spelled Rauðfeldar Canyon), and that there’s a story to it…
According to the little sign, Rauðfeldar Canyon is where an angry troll killed one of his two nephews by pushing him into the canyon, because they pushed his “curvaceous” daughter into the water and she ended up drifting to Greenland on an iceberg (unharmed of course). The angry troll was so pissed that he then “climbed into the glacier” and never came back out.
AKA Rauðfeldar Canyon is where one troll died and where an angry one still “lives”. Sounds like a great place to go venture in, right?
For some reason I was compelled to still go inside of this “troll grave” so I started hiking up to the base of it where people were going in. It looked really pretty from the outside…there was green mossy grass growing everywhere, cute little seagulls flying around and hanging out at the top, and this adorable little river flowing from…..the crack?!
But how do you get inside?! I watched the people in front of me as they seemed to step on the rocks in the river to get inside of the crack. Seriously?! I half felt like it was an extremely bad idea but half felt like a badass climbing through a river to get to a troll cave, so I followed suit and stepped from stone to stone into the canyon.
As soon as I was through the narrow river passageway, I found myself in what seemed like a cylindrical cave that was open at the very top where the light could come in. Thank god the one day it was sunny and not raining was the day I decided to go into a troll grave whose only light came from this opening, otherwise I would have been scared shitless.
Anyway, I felt like I was in Journey to the Center of the Earth or something but noticed there were people even further up the narrow river that seemed to be coming from another narrow passageway deeper into the cave. Again, I knew in theory it was a bad idea, but there were already other people doing it, so obviously I had to. I waited until they were done taking their photos before I approached the little river to begin stepping on the stones again. But when I looked down, what I saw was absolutely bone-chilling…
Wedged in between the rocks that I was supposed to be stepping on were carcass after carcass of giant dead birds. I tried not to look at them and their eerie decaying faces, but they were right next to where my foot was supposed to go!
I tried to keep calm and not panic…maybe they made a mistake on the sign and it was really where birds go to die instead of trolls…or maybe the troll kills the birds that try to fly into his cave! I tried not to think about the fact that if winged-animals got killed in this cave, what the chances of a non-winged, slower-moving human had…but I kept stepping on the stones deeper into the canyon because I caught sight of what I thought was a…could it be?
Eureka! I found it! The one thing I didn’t think I was going to be able to see in Iceland because it was too expensive to book! It wasn’t a complete ice cave, but the massive chunk of ice that was spiraling out of the roof of the cave above the small waterfall was good enough for me!
By the way…did I mention there was a waterfall…inside the cave? That’s not exactly normal…most waterfalls are on the outside of the mountains, which is what also makes Rauðfeldar Canyon unique. I couldn’t see where the cave led to, and there was no way in hell I was climbing the waterfall to find out, so I carefully balanced myself on the rocks without touching anything to take some pictures of the cave before heading back.
I would love to admit that it was all in my head, but I can’t deny the bone chilling feeling I got when I went to take photos of the cave. The temperature dropped drastically and my hands got numb and shakey, and suddenly I had an extremely creepy feeling that I should not be there. I turned to try to hold out my GoPro to attempt getting a better shot of the cave, and realized the other people were no longer in the cave…and I was completely alone with the dead birds.
“Ok time to go.” I remember thinking, feeling like I was in one of those scary movie scenes when you wonder why the person is going towards the murderer. I tried not to panic and run through the river instead of stepping on the stones, mostly because all I could envision was falling on the dead birds and getting stuck in the water then a creepy troll coming out and killing me.
The heebie-jeebies were in full effect but I still carefully continued stepping on the stones to get out of that damn cave. I pretty much ran back to my car, avoiding eye contact with anyone who was on their way into the freaking other-worldly death trap I had just encountered. I even immediately turned on my cellular data to send a text to someone telling them about it because I was so shook up, but when I looked down at my phone, I realized something…
My sunglasses had been hooked on the front of my shirt, just like they had been when I hiked to waterfalls, climbed basalt rock walls, and did other adventurous activities the past 4 days in Iceland. I didn’t hear or feel them drop, but at some point while I was in that damn troll cave…they mysteriously disappeared!
I got out of there as fast as possible, not even considering going back in to look for them since they were probably either stolen by the troll when I wasn’t looking, or floating around with the dead birds.
When I got to my final destination I finally checked the photos on my phone which came out kind of Ok, but get this…later when I checked all of the pictures on my GoPro the only ones that didn’t come out were the ones from Rauðfeldar Canyon, and they were all distorted!
SO, if you dare to go see this creepy cave, keep an eye out for a cute pair of aviators…and beware of bird-killing, sunglass-stealing troll!!!
My face says it all….