Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon | Stories from Iceland I


I drove 1000km in two days to get here. Sometimes I get these ideas in my head and I’m too stubborn and so afraid of regret that I have to see them through no matter what. It happened when I was cycling the Pacific Coast Highway a couple of years ago and I added an extra 40 miles to my journey one day just because I had to see this lighthouse on a dead-end road just north of San Francisco. I knew I would go no matter how tired my legs and my mind were. Everything became about getting to this damned lighthouse and I infuriated myself for not being able to let it go. And then when I did get to the lighthouse it was closed for the day - but it didn’t matter to me because I had made it, and then I had to cycle 20 miles back as the sun was setting and I was so beyond exhausted I could hardly pedal anymore. The whole time I was driving to the Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon on the southern coastline of Iceland I kept thinking about that day in California. And I despised myself for being so damned stubborn and letting myself get these wild ideas in my head.

I almost didn’t make it, actually. The weather was horrendous and I very nearly gave in and stayed in the cosy warmth of an over-priced hostel on a hillside. But I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t have time to get to the ice lagoon and back to Reykjavik to drop my car off in time. So instead, I drove into the night and pulled into a lay-by when I got too tired to drive anymore through the blinding rain. I made beans and hotdogs and curled up in my sleeping bag on the back-seat of my car as the wind pounded on the sides of what felt like a tin-can I was sleeping in, and an eerie flashing light from a nearby single-laned bridge kept me only in the first stages of sleep. In the morning, I drove some more, and when I finally arrived it was eerily empty. Perfectly silent. There was just me and these magical icebergs floating in the water and a family of ducks that call this place home. It was as mysterious and beautiful and tragic as I had imagined. A sign of the warming earth and the brutality of the elements.

And then, as if the earth knew I was there and that it was my time to go, the clouds rolled in and the rain began hammering relentlessly with no concern for those with a half hour journey on foot back to shelter. My jeans and boots were soaked through in an instant and I forgot where my car was parked, but all I could do was keep walking through the rain laughing hysterically at myself because this was the second time in two days that this had happened. Then laugh hysterically some more when I realised I had no dry trousers left and had to sit in my pyjamas for a couple of hours while attempting to dry them laid out on the passenger seat of my car with the heating on full-blast.

And do you ever find yourself in these moments when you wonder why on earth you do it to yourself over and over, but would do it all again anyway, over and over? Challenging the elements and your own body and mind to see how far they can go. How many times will I get soaked in a rainstorm before I decide that I have had enough and stay in the warm safety of my heated car. I’m quite certain that there will be many more times. Many more days of bravely venturing into the unknown and being washed out by greater forces. Many more moments of feeling the thrill of being completely drenched or utterly windswept and laughing hysterically into the elements. For it is these moments that make you feel most alive, that remind you to live, and that challenge you to dream beyond the constraints of a heated car.

Quite often I infuriate myself for getting these crazy ideas in my head then being so damned stubborn to not see them through, but I can undoubtedly say that never have I once regretted those decisions.