The Golden Falls

The “Golden Circle” is a glorious trifecta of Icelandic tourism, and Gullfoss is its crown jewel. The Gulfoss gorge was formed by flash flood waters that forced their way through cracks in the basalt lava layers creating (for lack of a technical term) a triple-decker waterfall. The water source is the glacial melt-off from Langjokull. The water flows down the Hvita river until is is transformed into a spectacular display of untamed natural power, thunderous torrents and colourful rainbows.

I have the privilege of a private tour which allows me to feel like a true explorer. This exclusivity is only because it is 11:30pm on a Wednesday. But, like the midnight sun, this site does not shut down for business. Time in Iceland is merely a concept. You cannot wake and sleep by the sun’s dictate unless you are planning to be an insomniac. Thus, I am still operating on Eastern Standard time and 7:30pm is a reasonable hour to check out a waterfall.

According to the write up-on the signage, “The average water flow in Gulfoss is 109 cubic metres per second”. In layman’s terms it could fill 60 transport trucks in one second. The falls cascade down 32 metres in two stages. I feel sorry for the fish who gets sucked down into the first stage and for a moment thinks he is safe. At this thought, I back away from the edge. The water crashing at the basin emits a shocking realization of gravity.

As I run along the well-trodden path adjacent to the falls, I feel small and humbled. I am also filled with energy and gratitude from what stands before me. Gulfoss was slated to be turned into an electrical power generator. But, through the efforts of a farmer’s daughter, remains as it was upon its first discovery.

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