“… Suddenly the clouds parted to reveal a gargantuan mass of ice towering impossibly high above us… Streaks of colour from purple to bright red exploded outwards from behind the mountain peak as the dull February Arctic light was replaced with one of the most dazzling sunsets we’ve ever witnessed…”
We were driving up the west coast of Iceland towards the Snaefellsnes Peninsula trying to imagine what beauty lay beyond the driving rain and wind and murky dark clouds all around us. Lightning blitzed the horizon as deep concussive claps of thunder shook the earth with every blow of Thor’s hammer on his anvil.
Dreams of rolling moorland and icy waterfalls filled our minds as our eyes strained against the rain and darkness. It was only 4PM, but the dark coldness of the arctic winter night fought to take over the day, slowly casting its shadow across the landscape.
All of a sudden, the clouds started to part… We watched as the dark clouds were driven away by the light, slowly dissipating back into the shadows. Slowly the winter sun emerged into view, bursting rays of sunlight all around us as a landscape of impossible beauty began to reveal itself.
The light was cold and faint and felt far away, but even our darkest days can be overcome by the power of light, no matter how unlikely it may seem.
To the west of us the road dropped away sharply to a mass of jagged volcanic rock while a churning arctic sea charged violently against the coastline. To our east the lowland farms quickly begun climbing up a rocky escarpment; its peaks still shrouded in cloud while mighty waterfalls cascaded over sheer drops of 50m plus.
Yet it was what lay in front of us that took our breath away. A tangled mess of black rocks forming the shape of phantoms; the work of the devil himself. Beyond the heartbreakingly desolate lava field the mountains began to rise towards the heavens. They rose and rose and rose. We watched as the grass and rock was slowly replaced by snow and ice and still the mountains rose before us.
Finally our eyes met their summits towering over the clouds and landscape below. We’d seen mountains before in The Atlas Mountains and The Alps, but what lay before us now was more majestic than any of them. In moments we’d seen more beauty than in a thousand years of wandering the Alps.
The sun, already low in the sky, began its final journey over the mountains towards the east. Yellow turned to orange, orange to red, red to blue and blue to purple as the sky danced in the dying light of the day. In the fading light nothing has ever looked so beautiful. The snow as white and fresh as the first life of spring… The peaks of winter standing proud, defying gravity and the forces of nature.
The moss coloured lava, once the very embodiment of the power of the earth, molten and red hot it exploded from deep within the core, casting a nightmarish glow across the sky as it set flame to everything it touched… Yet it now it stood cold, silent and solemn. Small pockets of snow clinging to its dark mass as moss and the passage of time blunt its once destructive power.
The light danced one last time over the frozen lakes as it appeared their surface was on fire; one last stand against the darkness…
Yet even such beauty cannot escape the dark forever. We’d sat transfixed, under the spell of the arctic sunset for what could have been a few seconds or several lifetimes… We didn’t know. All we knew is that we had never seen anything as awe inspiringly stunning as this ever before.
The darkness finally enveloped the day and our landscape of dreams slipped away for another day. But even now, our eyes still shine as we cannot forget the beauty of that sunset and whenever we see the sun set on another day, we’re taken back to that day in Iceland, when everything in our world aligned to create the perfect moment.