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Danger for Trolls and Tourists

Latest posts by Jerry Wilson (see all)

Oddny the night troll lived in a lava cave near the South Western tip of Iceland with her husband and son.

One night, after dark, Oddny smelled the distinctive smell of a whale carcass off to the East and set out to bring it home herself. I guess that’s woman’s work.

After she got it home, she went to a tidal pool called Brimketill ( Surf Cauldron) which is also called Oddnyjarlaug ( Oddny’s Pool ), where she normally bathed and did laundry. She badly needed a bath as anyone who’s carried a whale carcass could tell you. She was too tired and fell asleep. The sunrise caught her still asleep and she was turned to stone. She was there for many decades until the surf wore her away.

There are many unfortunate night trolls scattered throughout Iceland where the lava wells up and cools into fantastic shapes. The basalt cliff at Brimketill is about 80 feet above a pounding surf that throws spray right over the observation platform on a day that wasn’t especially windy. ( The wind blows 24/7 everywhere in Iceland that I went).

They have a big sign in 4 languages telling people not to try to go down to the pool, that a big wave can come at any time and that there are rip currents even when the sea looks calm. I assume someone has died there.

I went up on a trail to the front of Vatnajokul glacier the next day where there was a plaque for two Germans that had disappeared in 2008. The trail was like a goat path with a 60 foot drop on one side down jagged rocks to an iceberg lagoon that was only a few kilometres from the sea. If they both went in the water they could’ve been gone in minutes.

When I tried to look up how many tourists die in Iceland each year, it’s not readily available data. I looked in May and three had died in one day. One had fallen off a cliff and a married couple had gone into a spring fed lake that was too cold.

Looking again this week, I can still find no data on how many tourists have died year by year, but only incident by incident.

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