Since it took me way longer then I thought it would to write even a few sentences about Iceland, I thought I’d put together a special treat. Two postings in the same day, plus a new layout!
The water was cold. How cold? At the continental divide, the water forms a large lake thanks to glacier runoff. Surface water temperature the day I was there was a blistering 2C. We suited up – long johns and thermal shirts, dry suit underwear, dry suit, diving hood, built in booties, diving gloves. A narrow strip of cheek was exposed between the edge of the hood and the skirt of the mask. That was the coldest 4 mm of skin I could have ever imagined, especially after 45 minutes of having my face in the glacier runoff.
The visibility. Everyone wants to know about the vis. Freshwater diving tends to be murky, and it isn’t the most popular sport out there. Who could blame divers, when the call of the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea, and the lush Caribbean beckons? But the vis was amazing. Well over 100 m; sometimes as much as 150 m. No fish, just algae growing on the lava flows as the European and North American continental plates slowly drift apart on this volcanic hot spot.
Crisp, cool water flows between your teeth, the most delicious refreshment. With Europe on your left and North America on your right, you float freely through the blue void.
The stillness of the water is overwhelming. A rich forest grows underwater, and yet at this time of year, the lake is empty of other life. In the summer, arctic char find their way to spawn. In October? A tapestry of red and green surrounds you underwater, and I long to wrap myself in the aquatic life for warmth. I feel my thighs growing cold and damp in the dry suit. Is it leaking? No, I am sweating and my body temperature is edging lower then I would like.
My heart pounds in my ears and icy water drips down my face as I remove my mask.
This is why I’m alive.
But maybe next time I’ll go stick my face in the water in a place a little warmer, like the Galapagos.