Glacier Walk Part 1:  Clampers

Before you can go walking on a glacier you have to put on clampers, the spikes that go below your shoes to allow you to grasp onto the ice.  We went glacial hiking with Icelandic Mountain Guides , and the clampers are provided as part of the fee.  You can also pay for transport out from Reykjavik, but we elected to rent a car (more on that later) and make a road trip of it along the southern coast.  

At the visitors center outside Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park the guides size your clampers and get you all set for putting them on once you get to a glacier. After we were all sized up we loaded in a fan and were driven to the base of the glacier. There we put on the clampers, as directed by Siggi, and we’re ready to take the ice.  We learned that for the level of hiking we would be doing that our ice picks were more for show than anything else, but could be used as a support if needed.  

Now it was time to get on that ice moving down the mountain a few meters a day… 

I Can’t

I can’t look at my own face without seeing back two summers in my freckles.

Found this #newspaper dated #1940 in a #usedbookstore yesterday. Love the #typography and the #whaletail in the #masthead. #newspapersforeva #iceland #reykjavik

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Inside the Volcano Part 2:

Once we got to base camp we went into the lodge and were told by the (cute…just an FYI all the guides are cute here in this country) lodge boy about how the volcano formed, and how to put our the gear that would secure us to the elevator.  

Then it was time for our us to climb the rest of the way up the summit. One we got there we saw that elevator you see in the top photo.  It’s the kind they use to wash windows on skyscrapers.  Now, I am very fearful of heights mind you, so going down in this was not really my cup of tea.  But as Kristin Newman says in her new book. “I love to do the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it.” So I was going down that volcano!

I was secured by my harness to the elevator, which really just had me saying internally “if the cord holding this elevator snaps, I am going down with it” not “this is holding me in place”.  But again, our guides were great, making us feel comfortable as we start descending into the 120 meter deep crater.  One of the guides was an architect by day and mountaineer rescue guy/guide by hobby, and the other was a commercial photographer who also does rescue on the side as well as these tours. These Icelanders are like multi faceted crystals I tell you.  

 At first the hole is only about as bit as the elevator itself, then the cavern widens until you are in a cathedral of rock.  As a geo nerd this was heaven.  The sulfur as colored the rocks inside into rainbow like streaks of water color.   Once at the bottom you are given about an hour to explore around, until you go back the exact way you came down—through that little hole in the craters ceiling.  

Back at base camp they warm your bones with some traditional lamb soup and warm drinks before the hike back to the ski lodge where the ride takes you back to town.  

All-in-all I can’t recommend this tour (and Im NOT into tours!!!) if you ever come to Iceland.  Unless you are a volcanologist you have little chance of otherwise getting to descend into the magma chamber of a volcano.  This is simply once in a lifetime!

Another day, another lovely Icelandic breakfast. #iceland #kexland #kex #emrobandkftakeeurope #fieldingstravelguidetoeurope (at Kex Hostel)

I Remember

I was sitting there with my bowl of noodles in front of me.  I have been here before.  The first time was with a vegan.  This was the only place she would eat in town, though I am sure that they use oyster sauce.   The second time I was alone, having just met someone who was someone who turned out to be no-one. This time I was with me.  

I walk back to my hostel.  I’m staying in a hostel.  A six bed room for females only, two of the beds are empty, two house french girls, the other a stranger, and the sixth for me. 

I walk back to my hostel. I see them, those I never understood and never will.  Sitting outside another hostel in their hippie clothes. They are playing with tarot cards and have flowers in their hair.  They sit outside to appear like they can’t afford a room, but by evening their parents credit card will have been swiped and they will sleep cozy.  In 10 years they will be stay at home mom’s with conservative bobs they groom for play dates.  I remember their kind. Wanting to be different, but intrinsically normal.  I walk by in my JCrew jeans and and North Face jacket—all the commercial crap they eschew. But they don’t know what I know already—them of 19—-they are the same, and I am different. 

I’m different. I’m 33, American, and staying in a hostel.  I eat the same noodles I did in 2011.  But me, I am different.

#Iceland has the #coke game on lock. They say it’s the best in the world because they use the best water. I just care about #tallboycokesforeva Also, I heard name cokes are in the states now? #emrobandkftakeeurope #fieldingstravelguidetoeurope

Inside the Volcano Part 1:

The first day we arrived in Iceland we really hit the ground running by going on a tour called “Inside the Volcano”.  On this (yes, a little lux) tour they take you into Thrihnukagig volcano just outside Rekyjavik.  Because of their strict cancellation policy (I hate loosing money!)  and our already packed schedule we waited to book this tour till we were literally sitting on the plane at JFK to KEF, assured we would be able to make the 4pm tour after arriving the next day. 

This was definitely the splurge activity of our trip and well worth it.  After driving out of the city you are taken into a ski lodge where you are given a heavy duty North 66 rain slicker in the brightest of greens.  Then the hike begins through the lava fields.  The location of the volcano is remote, so the only way to get there is on foot.  Each year they have to hire a helicopter to move the lodge at basecamp in and out of the lavafields because the area is protected for groundwater.  

The hike through the lava fields takes about an hour to get to the volcano. Sadly we had quite a rainy day, so it made this a bit uncomfortable—but we are in ICELAND! Hiking through LAVA FIELDS!! This is nothing to complain about!

On the way to the volcano you stop a lava tube and craw inside.  Our guide Valdi did a great job describing the formation of the tube.  Once we were out of the tube was onward to the volcano, passing a couple elf rocks through the fog…..

Next….into the volcano!

 

Spent today pal-ing around #reykjavik with @emmacrushes before she heads to Switzerland tomorrow. We will meet up again next week in Austria, till then I’ll be hanging around town “being a local”, catching up on writing blog posts from cute cafes, and eating large amounts of Icelandic hotdogs and skyr. It’s a good life. #henceandhitherandthither #emrobandkftakeeurope #fieldingstravelguidetoeurope #fromwhereistand (at Hub of Reykjavik)