There was a moment in time, however brief, when this blog was almost called “the Wander Guy” wherein I wrote about wandering through the world and between those adventures got distracted by taking pictures, cooking great food and other things… rather than, y’know, the other way around.
wawn - derr - luhst
The yearning and all-consuming desire to walk and travel about, see the world, and explore the universe.
There are many languages from which we English-speakers borrow concepts. Many of the ones I am familiar with are derived from German origins.
When I was about twenty years younger I took some German language courses to fill my evenings. One root of my family tree traces back a couple hundred years and multiple generations to some soil in that particular area of Europe. I was one of those guys who, in his twenties, started digging around those roots and trying to find some cultural branches through which I could climb and explore. This all resulted in an opportunity to travel about through Germany for a few weeks while those lessons were still fresh in my head. I have some very distinct memories of time spent wandering through Berlin, Munich, and other various small towns, learning and immersing, seeking some connection and grounding… but mostly eating currywurst and drinking lots of beer.
Words like wanderlust are among those perfectly distilled concept words derived from another language that we haven’t bothered to replace it with something other.
I’m glad for that.
Being struck by a lingering case of wanderlust that has gripped around my heart for now most of my life, and finding some vague-and-fuzzy connection to a fragile root of my own personal history, I feel like I can slot this word into my own vocabulary in a purposeful way.
There is a bit of me that often aspires to be more of a “wander guy” and nurture the wanderlust that lurks behind that. To travel. To explore. To put on a trusty hat and good shoes. To find a trail, sidewalk, cobbled road, or dusty route. To wander away from home, far and wide, and cure the longing behind that.
I snapped close to ten thousand photos over the course of not-quite-two weeks travelling around Iceland in 2014, and disproportional number of those pics included waterfalls.
for whatever one photo is worth:
Skógafoss is a huge waterfall on the Skógá River in the very southern bulge of Iceland. It was one of the first big waterfalls we saw on our trip along the ring road of the island and notable not just because it is an impressive waterfall, but having climbed up the slick and narrow path to overlook the crest I saw something even more interesting.
On my visit I wasn’t carrying much more than a camera bag, but others sharing the trail with me were lugging much more substantial loads. Backpacking gear. Obvious overnighting equipment. Crampons. Warm clothes. As I turned to climb back down after snapping my photos, they were hopping over a low barrier and setting out on a serious backpacking trip.
The Fimmvorduhals Trail (as I researched later) is one of many incredible adventures in Iceland. From what I can tell it is part of an extensive hiking and backpacking network in that country and people come from all over to walk them.
To be perfectly honest, until I saw those people trekking outbound from where we had stopped for a tourist break, it had not occurred to me that there might be some seriously awesome backpacking to be had in Iceland. We were going to explore by car with the family including my (at the time) seven year old and her grandparents.
To be even more honest, it hasn’t left my mind as a backpacking trip I’d love to take on. Sooner than later. Had there not been a global pandemic, it was actually an idea I’d floated with a friend for this upcoming summer to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. It inspired me to see those people setting out, and a pang of jealousy has always stuck like a splinter in my brain that I got back into an SUV and drove on while they set off into the wilds for something far more epic.
This picture, then, as simple and beautiful as it looks is actually hiding a personal point of interest for me: it’s the trailhead of one of my bucket list hikes.