Looking for Icelandic Elves on Stokksnes Beach
There's really not a location too remote for me to want to investigate. I feel like we, as a society of human beings, have invented enough machines and methods of travel that I can likely use an app to book everything I'd need to 6 months in advance. Then land somewhere in the middle of Siberia or Antarctica just fine and gain some Hotels.com points. I'm serious. That said, I definitely took 3 close friends to Iceland with me, with the full intent and purpose of getting to an extremely remote and dangerous beach on the Southern coast. All in the name of the supernatural! Myself and Jody, Jen and Stacy spent just over a week sleeping in a cozy cabin near a spewing hot glacier (sexy), and drove around the Ring Road and various sideroads seeing some of the most incredible natural wonders that country offers. It's a volcanic, Martian looking landscape, dotted by turbulent glacial waterfalls, (go watch Vikings and see some), black sand beaches and rocky, snow-swept peaks.
Traditionally called the Huldufólk or hidden people in Icelandic, the elves of the island nation are an old belief, coming with settlers to the country in 800 AD. They've since become the ghosts and ghost stories of Iceland, inspiring strange stories of encounters throughout the years. A popular segment on TV several years back mentioned road construction being diverted in order to spare the homes of elves in the hillsides, and the story has stuck around since then, but may have actually been a matter of misinformation. While driving the side roads of the small towns, we came upon several sets of small houses, about the scope of an average dollhouse, nestled onto the lawns and hills of people's homes. They were fully painted and decorated, and I realized that the reality of elves is more equatable to the possibility of an energetic Other, that exists on or within the land, than literal elves themselves.
That Other is present in the haunting stories of various locations in Iceland as well. Stokksnes Beach, nestled under the looming countenance of Vestrahorn mountain, is said to have a ghost or two. The visage of a Viking, wet and walking slowly out of the water, has been witnessed there several times over. That apparition would in every way scare me off the beach, but not before hoping I'd had the sense to use my iPhone for a video. The story that got me thinking, and thus planning the trip to begin with, was an account by a photographer capturing the Northern Lights. As he stood on the beach taking long-exposure shots, he snapped one photo in particular that shows footprints in the sand leading toward the camera, after all prints had been noticeably swept away. Furthermore, the prints stopped right before the tripod under the guy's camera. The creepiness and the idea of experiencing such a place enticed me enough to eventually spend about 9 hours driving across southern Iceland in one night (on the ONE road, unlit, un-lined, but surreal).
Just as the road was about to disappear into a mountain tunnel, we turned right and down a hill toward the beach. We arrived at the small area of Stokksnes and wound our way along a curvy gravel road to the Viking Cafe - the privately owned little shop, restrooms and beach entry fee payment kiosk. As all the travel guides had said, the beach access road was blocked from driving onto by a gate which needed a paper ticket inserted in order for the bar to lift and for us to pass. Surprisingly, a small light outside the cafe was on, the ticket kiosk took my credit card after several tries, and we paid for access to this incredible black sand beach with roaring navy blue waves crashing endlessly out to a jetty with a lighthouse on the end. We drove up to the gate, and the ticket opened the beach to our investigation.
The beach itself is intimidating, and one step too close to the massive waves and that's a long trip fighting a freezing undertow and sharp, volcanic rocks. That alone kept us extremely close to the higher dunes. We found out the lighthouse perched at the end of the jetty belonged to the Icelandic Coast Guard, so a sense of remote safety kept us more at ease in the harsh environment. There was no way to try and capture EVPs on the beach, and the near freezing temps of late April brought a constant Arctic wind that whipped around us. We searched for footprints that ended abruptly, but of course in a single search on a random night, it was slim to none on chances of finding such an anomaly. We then drove back to the cafe, once again using the metal gate bar. To leave the beach, we only had to bring the car close enough to a sensor for it to lift and let us pass. The side of the gate where the ticket box was located had yellow flashing lights for indicators. It flashed behind us and the bar went down.
Sitting on the picnic bench behind the cafe and out of the wind, we then ran a recorder and sat silently for a while, listening to the ocean and the sound of the Winnowing Snipe birds above us, diving off the Vestrahorn. Several minutes go by before Jody and I, sitting within visible range of the gate below us on the road, see the indicator lights flashing and the gate rise and fall. Stacy saw the flash of light, and Jen was actually sitting behind a large rock and a massive whale vertebrae, and saw nothing. We knew no car had gone through, and were the only four people around save for some campers behind us across the parking lot, asleep in an RV, and whoever was staffing the lighthouse at the end of the jetty.
This startled us, and was entirely inexplicable save some random electronic malfunction, but what could have caused that gate to operate on its own like that? No animals were roaming around, as there's not much for woodland critters on Iceland. What's more, why would it happen in the first place, if the beach is so guarded and protected? We captured nothing more that night, and then prepared ourselves for another 4+ hour drive back along nearly the entire southern coast of Iceland. The way a glacial snowstorm will blow toward a moving vehicle is terrifyingly hypnotic, and I think all four of us were grateful for my contact lenses and ability to use random snack bars to stay awake for such a long adventure. We arrived back at our cabin around 5 in the morning and slept like the absolute dead.
Did an otherworldly aspect open the gate behind us that night? Did the beach yield Strange and Unusual interaction with the Hidden Folk? An elf messing with the gate is entirely within the wheelhouse of such folklore, and fits precisely into the narrative of something the elves would do. Either odd coincidence or spectral, elven gate keeper, it was a beautiful trip to a spooky location in the name of weird, wonderful travels.
See the video of the investigation on our youtube channel, right here: