A day to love in a cold climate
I am in Iceland, heading east in my little rented Citroen toward Skaftafell and the vast Vatnajokull glacier. My plan is to keep going until dark and camp in the car.
As the day fades, the air takes on a bluish hue and the rain comes on.
Finally, near the sea and with a wall of glacial ice visible above me in the mountain gloom, I pull over and prepare my bed in the back of the car.
I have water, chocolate and cognac. The wind buffets and rain patters the windows but I snuggle down in my rented sleeping bag with the shoosh of the sea and the rain and wind rocking me to sleep.
Next morning, with the rain stopped, I decide to strike out towards a ridge about 1km away to get a better view of the glacier. I walk over moss, heather and scree. The rocks, I realise, are part of the moraine left behind by the retreating glacier.
To my delight I notice blueberries everywhere and, grabbing handfuls as I go, they become my wild breakfast. The ridge is a false saddle and I push higher and higher to another ridge line that I see will give me the better view. As I crest it, the wind hits me cold and hard but in astonishment I throw my arms up and yell for joy, “Spectacular!”
Before me a river of white ice spills off the mountain, curving left to right in the valley below towards the sea.
It plunges in slow motion and the broken dirty face, fractured, crumpled and dangerous, like the foam of a breaking wave, hangs in suspended animation, a freezeframe moment of power.
Later, driving on, I glimpse above a low earth rampart the prospect of more bright white ice.
I scramble up the short slope. The world is once again transformed. In a sapphire blue lake numerous small fantastically shaped bergs are moving in slow pirouette to some invisible current.
As they glide I hear them creaking and dripping, murmuring together in gentle collision. A little to the north the face of the main glacier watches over its brood, the dying torrent ending in a sculpted ballet of calved and melting ice.
I know climate change is impacting on glacial landscapes, but it’s still fabulous. This has been a day of days.. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: email@example.com. Columnists receive a set of four Lonely Planet Make My Day guidebooks for London, New York, Paris and Tokyo, offering mix-and-match itineraries for morning, afternoon and evening. $99.96 ($24.99 each). More: lonelyplanet.com.