We hiked for about 45 minutes to get to the glacier and it was very foggy and scenic! The original start point was only a 15 minute walk, but that part of the glacier had become unstable (water builds up under glaciers), so we had to hike further in to a safer spot.
When we got to the glacier we strapped on our crampons (shoe grips) and picked up our ice picks and got ready to go! Sarah asked our guide once what the ice picks were for, and he said for balance...and for taking cheesy photos! haha. Trust me, this glacier hike is for all skill levels and they even allow kids to do it!
Of course it started raining at this moment- but that wouldn't stop us! We climbed down this huge, steep hill of volcanic ash before getting on the glacier. For some reason I led the group as our guide had to drop back to help people down. I was pretty nervous because I wasn't comfortable with the crampons yet.
The guide took us all over the glacier and taught us all about how they form and develop their shape. This particular glacier is covered in volcanic ash, hence why everything looks like a black and white picture! We were actually just a few kilometres from Eyjafjallajokull, which is the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused all those issues with air traffic. There was one area that the guides called Mordor because of how dark and rough everything looks.
|A moulin (hole made by water)|
|A Mud Hut? I can't recall what he called these|
The glacier was really awesome and it is crazy how fast it changes. Our guide said that every week there are new crevasses and hills and that the volcano ash makes it even more crazy because it blocks the sun from melting the ice- leading to all those black hills- they were once UNDER the ice and the ash blew into a hole...then the sun melted the glacier around that hole and only the ash covered hump remained.
Honestly, this was one of the BEST experiences of my life! We has booked our tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides (this tour) and they were great, especially with our mix up with the meeting spot! A glacier hike is definitely a must do in Iceland.
After that experience, we drove off to Jokulsarlon, a lake full of icebergs that was a couple hours up the road. Along the way, we passed through Eldhraun, which is a huge field of lava covered in moss. We learned on our glacier hike that the volcanic ash is basically crap for growing things until the moss and lichen grows on it, which gives it nitrogen and turns it into great soil! So it is important to leave the moss alone.
We also stopped for a second at Nupsstadur, which is a turf farm from the early 20th century. Our guide said you could go up and walk around, but the gate was closed when we went by so I just took some shots from the bottom of the driveway.
After Nupsstadur, we passed through Skeidararsandur which is a huge black sand desert. It is HUGE and you drive through it for a very long time (the same with Eldhraun!). Somewhere on all this black sand is a plane that crashed in the 1970s (see photos here), but we didn't know where it was and I wasn't about to go offroading on a giant black beach to find it.
We had planned to stop at Skaftafell National Park, but we were running super late (the glacier hike went long- not complaining!), and when we got near Skaftafell it was piss pouring, so we decided to skip it.
Finally, not far from Jokulsarlon the skies cleared up and there was a beautiful view of rainbows and glaciers, so we decided to hop out of the car for a few minutes to enjoy the sunshine :). It was super windy, though! They actually warn you about the wind when you rent a car because your insurance doesn't cover the door getting blown off.
Finally, we arrived at the Glacier Lagoon (as it is locally known) just in time to catch our tour boat! We had booked to go on a small boat around the lake (our tour was the Zodiac Tour). There was a large boat option, but we paid extra to go in the smaller boat that lets you get right up to some of the icebergs (but not toooo close- they can flip over at any minute!). It was so beautiful and we actually saw a bit of the glacier break off while we were there- it was SO loud. I was hoping to see an iceberg flip too, but no luck there. Fun fact- this lake actually has seals in it too! We saw some, but no good photo ops.
|Me in my sexy boat suit- our boat is behind me|
After that, we headed out again to our accommodation for the night- a cute little farm called Holmur about halfway between Jokulsarlon and the town of Hofn. We decided to head into Hofn to find dinner and ended up eating at the N1 gas station (the N1s had nice little fast food places in them and we loved the hot dogs there). Hey- Iceland was expensive and we had to save money where we could!
|Holmur Farm (glacier behind it!)|
Anyway, this day was SO much fun and I think I will end it here because I have already posted about a million photos :). More tomorrow!