I decided to talk about Iceland, but I think that the photos will be the only thing that is white in my piece of magazine (clearly ignoring the paper, which however for years and thanks to merciful hands, has taken on a much broader spectrum of colors, thank you). Anyway, I will try to tell you something about northern Europe.
Driven by my own subconscious, sitting in front of the computer, I crunched the numbers, left the account fuming, and went home. Iceland. Total escape, one of my dream destinations. Any other would have been worth it, as I say, Ancares, Finisterre, New Zealand, the seafront, Kenya... What does it matter?
The really fundamental thing is that, if you can do it, you want to do it, and it makes you and the people around you happier, do it. If it helps you escape, so that your mind travels, do it.
On April 7, under atrocious cold, at about -25º C, I thought what I always think when I am having a bad time (physically) What am I doing here??!! Who would send me to Iceland at this time??!! And then I think, you did it because you wanted to, it shouldn't be so bad...
We arrived in Iceland on April 4, 2009 after two planes and various negotiations for excess luggage. The country is not precisely characterized by its demographic concentration, but rather the opposite. Driving on the island's main road (circular No. 1) means not meeting anyone for hours, It's like driving along a lost highway in deep Galicia on a soccer Sunday at 5 in the afternoon, yes, with a 4×4, knobby wheels and the road covered in ice and snow.
We arrived with the idea of touring the island and visiting three specific places: From Reykjavik (to the southwest) we had ten days to visit the Snaefellness peninsula (to the west), the northern mountain range of Skidardalur, Dalvik and its fjords and finally some area of thermal activity. We don't get overwhelmed, but we take advantage of the time.
I will avoid talking about the “geysers”, sulphataras, boiling water and volcanoes because I consider that the photos are sufficiently descriptive. Nor do I think it deserves much attention to tell little adventures about the climbs in Dalvik or the journey through the snowy and isolated valleys of Skidardalur because, likewise, I think their beauty is demonstrated in the photographs.
I think that the important thing about the trip is the sensations, those sensations that many of us look for on our trips and that I discovered with the arctic wind, at -25º C, at the summit of Snaefelljoküll.
In Olafsvik they looked at us strangely. The few people we found, at the town's gas station and in the only hotel in the small fishing village, could not believe that those people with skis wanted to climb Snaefelljoküll. What would they have missed at the top of that volcano in the cold? What was it doing and how much snow did it have? A “nonsense”.
The day dawned clear, -1º C marked the thermometer of the Skoda 4X4; We went to the volcano because it was simply there, on the last edge of the spine of the Snaefellness peninsula, as the culmination of the finisterrae, a mass of snow that friendly invited us to the precipice of the mountain range. We started “focusing” around 8 am, with great spirits and surrounded by a stony silence.
We went up without following a specific route. The freedom of being able to mark our own route pushed us from 0 meters from the sea to 2,300 meters from the summit, wrapped in a different atmosphere. It is the breath of ski touring, the purity of heading towards the horizon, moving your steps without anyone observing you, avoiding crowds, being able to think and talk to yourself, in silence.
You launch a movement of the ski, it sounds in the deep snow. You launch a new kick, you control it. You breathe, you inhale the pure air of the north, you see the fog creep in little by little, you sigh. You look up after 5 hours of effort, you feel tiny under those masses of ice, in the glacier, surrounded by covered cracks that you cannot see and with the ocean as a participant, the only possible spectator who, even at that moment, says nothing. You can think in silence, as if you were doing it at home, escaping from everything, with your pillow. You launch more ski movements, on the snow, you continue up.
The wind picks up, but it is strange air, cold, cold, and you realize that you reach the summit and that to the north there is nothing else, only the arctic that breathes against you, waking you up from the 7 hours of ascent and of your thoughts, of your ideas, of yourself... it tells you:
What are you doing here, you're not at home? You are happy? What makes you do all this?
You reach the summit. You feel whole, complete for your effort and for the hours of silence, but you cannot properly appreciate what surrounds you. The cold makes you numb, your joints contract, in half an hour hell has arrived dressed in white and shiny. Now your thoughts do not belong to you, they are from your own body and not from your mind that forces you to get down from there.
You go down for hours controlling the skis, the cracks you just passed a while ago, the relief, in dense fog, again you think, what am I doing here??!!
Deep down you know that a small obstacle is overcome, it is a little cold, you do it because you are happy with it, you have escaped, you have thought and you have contributed to collecting a new smile in the sadness of the rest.
You arrive again satisfied. As always, cold, numb but satisfied. The Snaefelljoküll has once again taught you that a smile can be the difference between a good or a bad experience, it all depends on how you live, how you feel, how we want to perceive it. Much of that is only achieved through travel, escaping, directing our own steps, leaving the portal.