Trees are virtually non-existent in Iceland. In most of the country, it’s too windy and too cold for most of the year; the soil is too erosion-prone and doesn’t hold moisture; and centuries of over-extraction and under-replenishment have resulted in a diminished tree population. (The trees were used to build Iceland’s large fishing fleet, and then the saplings were eaten by the abundant sheep.)
Most of Iceland is covered in grass, moss, gravel, sand, or ice—or some combination thereof. There is significant variation within each covering. For example, fields at sea level produce grass that is thick and long; moorlands are distinguished by grass-covered pillars of soil; and just below alpine the grass is similar to that on a golf course—thick and short.
Exposure to the elements is constant and relentless—there is little natural protection from wind, rain, blowing sand, sun and bugs. I was very pleased that I was mostly prepared for this: I had a windshirt, good raingear, and a long-sleeve shirt; I brought polarized and clear lenses so that I could wear my sunglasses in low-light; my shelter was 4-season worthy; and I had a headnet to keep the gnats away.