Iceland has been regarded as a staple of the natural world for decades, experiencing a recent influx of tourists and attention across social media, leading a fanbase of sorts in outdoor and travel enthusiast communities. We started in Reykjavik and made our way east, then north, spanning the island from coast to coast. There is a sense of calm and bare to the culture, local bars with cozy lights, people sitting at fountains and tucked inside shops. The moment you leave civilization the land swallows you whole, as if insinuating that the land itself plays a larger part of Iceland’s culture than any individual.
Waterfalls and lingering rainbows mist over enormous cliffs, birds circling above chiming hospitable chirps. A never ending field of mossy masses, rocks and boulders continuing into the distance as the sun blends in with a fog mixed sky. You would be mistaken to stick to a strict schedule here. Misinformed to follow behind one of the tour buses. Must you miss any of the glaciers, lakes, geysers -spots unnamed and unmapped- I personally fear.
We drove atop a dirt road that sounded as if it would swallow our rental whole. We almost ran out of gas and knocked on the door of what appeared to be a farm. A dog ran into our car, and a man approached to tell us that the next gas station was only 5 minutes away. If you’re lost in Iceland, but close to an Icelandic person, smile. You’ll be better than okay. We made our way up to Akureyri, the second largest and most northern "city" in Iceland. When you brave the snowy roads, you’ll adopt a celebratory feeling upon reaching your destination. Because in total darkness, driving to the solemn sound of snow graining against tires, no one’s really sure.
The odds of returning here are slimmer than most other places. By nature it is a bucket list destination. There is a feeling of ephemerality when you’re hiking these snow-capped mountains, or wading in the steaming waters within one of it’s many lagoons It’s a reminder that life is as fleeting as the footsteps we print while chasing it. An encouraging spirit of not only doing things now, but seeing them now as well. Seeing them for what they’ll be seen as when we’re older. A trip of a lifetime. Sights of a century. Moments made for later nostalgia.