It didn’t seem real.
I remember rubbing my eyes, blinking furiously at first, then slowly. And I remember taking a deep, icy breath, letting the sharp chill swoosh through my lungs before exhaling a foggy steam into the frigid air.
In case there’s any smidgen of doubt, I’m here to tell you: No one forgets their first glacial lake. And I, a born-and-bred southern California girl — whose closet has never seen anything heavier than a pea coat accumulating dust bunnies prior to this trip to southern Iceland — felt unequivocally in awe of the snowy scene before me.
On a late November day in Iceland, my friend, sister and I had originally set off for Jokulsarlon, a popular glacier lagoon that borders Vatnajokull National Park. With furrowed brows, we navigated our four-wheel-drive vehicle through roads slick with ice and willed the ominous clouds that hovered above us not to wreak havoc on our meager daylight hours — which seemed to be rapidly declining.
But before we could reach our highly anticipated destination, we decided to throw caution to the wind and make an unplanned stop at Fjallsarlon. Fjallsarlon is also a glacier lake, and though it’s much smaller in size than Jokulsarlon, make no mistake: It’s just as majestic.
Situated about 6.8 miles south of Jokulsarlon, Fjallsarlon sees substantially fewer crowds. In fact, as we scrambled over snowbanks and gingerly sidestepped thin planks of ice on the “beach” surrounding the lagoon, only a handful of other visitors floated in and out of view.
It truly was a magnificent sight both to behold and to remember: a nearly monochromatic palette of grey-blue snow and floating icebergs against a sky of an almost identical hue, interrupted with the slate-grey ashy residue of volcanoes from long before.