“The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
Most of Iceland remains wild, and untamed, and that is a good thing. As humans, in this era of convenience, it’s refreshing to be in a place like this; a place where we can still feel vulnerable and humbled by nature in its most elemental form.
This is something that has stayed with me, now that I sit comfortably at my desk, recounting this journey through Iceland. Even though we spent much of our time on the road, we did take the opportunity to wander off the beaten path a few times and feel Iceland in its natural form. You don’t have to venture more than a few meters off the road to experience this, as the road is but a thin, temporary, ribbon of civilization.
For example, here in the Gullborgarhraun, or Gullborg lava fields of the Snæfellsness Peninsula you are faced with kilometers of ancient lava, twisted and jagged, slightly softened by the ever-present mosses and lichens, which offer a splash of colour in the otherwise bleak landscape of black and grey rock.
At the centre of the scene sits Gullborg, a short volcanic cone, at one time, the source of all this lava, now rising from the deep lava field and littered with and accumulation of sharp black ejecta, attesting to the active volcanic nature of this region. It’s a rawness that I’ve never experienced before and something I really appreciate given my formal education in geology, so many years ago.
The first word I used to express the nature of Iceland was ‘raw’, and that stands ever more true, several days into the journey. I suppose that is the real appeal for many of us who have travelled here. It’s one of the few places left in the world where we can experience this kind of wilderness, to enjoy such primal diversity within a relatively small geography. It’s like stepping back in time, to a place where nature ruled and mankind was merely a participant at its mercy.
iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/35 sec; f/1.8; ISO 32
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