Island – Schnee und Eis

Yesterday morning we headed out for our Glacier walk and ice cave tour. Bound for Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður, we started our drive in heavy snow. With limited visibility we slowly made our way across the south ring road. It was quite a long drive; though we were on the road around 7:30, we didn’t make it to the glacier until around 12:30. Progress was initially slow due to inclement weather, but the snow cleared up after around an hour or so. Afterwards we stopped for gas and some snacks in a beautiful little town called Vik. For some reason there have been many signs for this town. We expect there are more signs for the town than there are citizens – it is quite small. Tyke (for reasons unbeknownst to me) bought some dried fish which smelled awful and (he attests) tasted worse.

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Just an “ordinary” view from the gas station in Vik, Iceland

We made a few more stops as daylight showed us more of the beautiful scenery. We continued past Vik and the landscape grew more barren and desolate. The countryside was dominated by a dynamic between black igneous rock and the snow and ice covering it. This can create some wild landscapes with great contrast between the dark and light colors.

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Beautiful, barren lava fields on the southwest coast
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Just a pit stop
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We saw at least 4 or 5 waterfalls like this, fed by glacial runoff.
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Closer still to the park entrance

Eventually we made it to the national park and were treated to spectacular views as we drove up. I had never been this close to glaciers of this size. Pictures cannot do it justice.

We had a ton of fun out on our glacier hike. Our guide was patient in explaining everything from techniques to his background and how he experiences the glacier. Describing the formative process of snowfall, compaction, and movement. We were in a group of about 12. While on the hike we stopped in an ice cave, drank delicious glacial water, talked about the movement and changes taking place, and survival techniques. The scale of the glacial formations is difficult to describe. It is a humbling experience to be faced with such an immense living landscape.

After the hike, we drove back home. We stopped for dinner at a little inn in the town of Hella. They had great soup and the prices were relatively reasonable (most food here is pretty expensive). We were able to cut out a fair bit of time on the drive home by speeding. The weather was good and the roads clear, and there was no traffic to be seen anywhere so I thought we may as well save some time. Exhausted again, we went to bed shortly after we got home, though I woke up periodically to keep an eye on the aurora forecast. No luck for northern lights yet but we’ll keep looking!

Best wishes and safe travels everyone,

– Ben

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