Iceland – The Golden Circle
We drive past Geysir, fluffy white puffs of steam rising from the ground, and turn off to Gullfoss, the Golden Waterfall. I’m looking forward to this. Hope my fear of edges doesn’t prevent me from seeing everything. The coach pulls into a parking area, and from the window I catch a glimpse of the falls, making me stop breathing for a minute and press my hands to the window. Before we disembark, we’re warned to watch our step because of the ice. Last year someone slipped and fell in, and they haven’t been found yet. I wonder if I’ll join them. There’s a narrow gravelly stone path going across, then up sharply (well, it looks sharp to me) to a craggy peninsula. I stand for a moment at the edge of the car park and smile at the view, then gingerly make my way up the path, stopping halfway for a blissful view of the churning white torrents, and feel a moment of dizziness as the force draws me to lean forward. I check myself and carry on up the path, hardly daring to breath, watching for slippery bits. As I near the top I can hear and feel the power of the falls, and I scramble awkwardly up some rocks, eager for the view.
Well. About the view. About the roar of the water; about the delicate, quiet spray, softly rising and drifting in the breeze; about the atmosphere; about the clean, sharp air; about the beauty, the grace, the sheer unstoppable power. My automatic camera packs in, so I’m forced to the unfamiliar manual one, probably none will come out. Well, hold the memory. It won’t be difficult. The falls go in steps, turning a corner, and the water is that beautiful, milky green of glacial water. Remember this. When I’m on my last legs, about to pop my clogs, bring me to Gullfoss and throw me over the edge. Let the falls finish me off, and let the tiny once-me-bits be spread the length and breadth of whatever route this river takes. I’m moved.
Then I move, a moments panic at the climb back down the rocky bit. I can see myself slipping over the edge crying ‘Not yet….!’. I slither down awkwardly on my bottom, as the others spring down gazelle-like around me. Bugger them. I walk slowly back up the path.
This is the Silver Waterfall today; all around the edges of the falls and on the slopes the spray has landed on the rocks and mossy ground and frozen, turning everything into a miniature forest of delicate silvery white crystals. And now I’ve climbed up the steps and am on top of the world, but still dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. I can see the falls in their entirety and everything is beautiful. I’m the last one, and I feel like the last person on earth; I turn in slow circles listening to the chill wind that bites my ears and nose, hearing the roar of the falls, and feeling the power and peace of the land around me.
The bus starts its engine, rudely interrupting my dreaming, so I jog back down the icy steps trying to avoid the bird droppings on the handrail. They’re purple.