By Michael Lanza
We follow the trail upward through innumerable, short switchbacks to the summit of a battleship-gray, steep-sided peak called Bláhnúkur in the remote Fjallabak Nature Reserve of Iceland’s Central Highlands, one of the most active geothermal areas on Earth. At the summit, we turn a slow 360, gaping at a mind-boggling, kaleidoscopic landscape painted in more colors than there are probably species of plant life on the volcanic slopes surrounding us. An old, hardened lava flow pours down one mountainside in a jumbled train wreck of razor-sharp black rhyolite. Barren peaks and ridges wearing the white splotches of July snowfields reach to every horizon.