A bit further along and you find the landscape begins to change; lush greens and waterfalls give way to black and in the distance almost inching towards you, your first glimpse of a glacial tongue. Skaftafell is Iceland’s premiere glacial national park and since ice accounts for about twenty percent of the island’s surface – a huge portion – this ice is not to be ignored, and Skaftafell is a great, albeit crowded, place to kick off.
A quick stroll brings you from vibrant brush and floor to the forefront of Falljökull glacial tongue, and the lagoon it melts into. It’s immensity, at one time creeping towards us, now recedes, continually gaining momentum and disappearing faster and faster as time trudges forward and our kind does little to reverse the mistakes we’ve made that have brought us to this point. A conversation for another day.
The chunks bobbing in the lagoon range from baseball size and crystal clear to car size and blue, to pure white and the size of a bus, all from the same place and all ever so slowly getting smaller to feed the lagoon.
As you take this all in, reflect on scale, time, politics, etc… the whipping wind coming off the ice chills you to the bone and through layer and layer you begin to feel it; noticeably fifteen or twenty degrees cooler and somehow fresher than the rest of the air, a bit more pure, a bit more free. Or maybe it’s just cold and that’s how you justify it. Regardless it’s time to get back to the car.