Our trip to South Iceland was very intense. Both my mind and my body were pushed farther than they have yet this semester. Our fourteen-mile hike provided me with ample time to think about anything and everything. In the beginning of the hike, I was fascinated with every small detail and I was looking all around me trying to absorb as much as I could. There was such a stark contrast between the river bed we were walking on, the moss on the side of the mountains, and the glacier. As the hike continued, I noticed myself becoming more and more content with just being where I was. I was no longer staring at the mountains on either side of me, trying to take pictures in my mind so I would remember it forever. Instead, I was breathing in the cool air and realizing how small I was and how comforting it was, for me, to be enveloped in the beauty of the landscape.
There were parts of the trip that made me feel like a tourist. The first and last day, we were jumping in and out of the van to look at the beautiful sights. Everything we saw was incredibly beautiful and worth seeing, but it made me think about my personal impact on the world. The waterfalls and the glaciers were breathtaking and I would love to see them again, but what damage was I doing by driving from place to place and adding my footprint to the damage done by tourists. It has been interesting to think about tourism and environmental management together, and to try to find a way to make the two work together.