July 24- August 5, 2015 - guide: Izhar Demeter of Ha Ya'ad HaBa - the Next Destination, with Iceland/French guide: Christophe Chermette.
To trek in Iceland is to fully immerse ourselves, day after day, in that enchanted landscape formed by ice and fire, even if it means not seeing all the ‘sights’ and ‘attractions’ the island has to offer. It means to wander through eerie lava formations carpeted by layers of moss that took centuries to grow; to sink our heels into snow; into soft, black lava-sand; bouncy beds of Icelandic elf-moss – almost like hovering above the ground that is hardly ever hard and solid.
It means to sense the earth split open, letting out boiling mud, steam, geysers, but also thermal energy for the showers in our faraway cabins and campsites, and lovely hot springs to soak and warm our weary bodies. It means to hike past thundering waterfalls that assert the indisputable power of nature; in the spell of immense glaciers, more like the North Pole icecap than the usual tongues of ice. To know that volcanos can erupt any minute, spewing out ash, red-hot lava, turning glacier-ice into river floods. So much is going on under the surface here, no wonder there is a strong belief in elves and hidden people.
To trek means to cross knee-deep icy streams in sandals, sometimes stripping to our underwear when water is especially deep. It had snowed late this year, just two weeks earlier, and the streams we have to cross are deeper than usual, the currents much faster. To trek means to cope with the unforeseeable weather that moves from sunny to drizzle, to mist, to freezing rain and winds, then back again, all in a matter of hours.
And the light, the light - the sun filtering through the cloud-cover, casting spotlights on shifting stretches of land; mists descending on the mountain as we reach the top, blanking it out from sight; the ever-lasting sunsets close to midnight; the nights that never get dark.
How much this northern landscape reminds me of the desert - the endlessness, the naked rocks, where you can witness the workings of the earth's forces; the expansive dome of the sky that embraces you, tenderly.