Day 12: Glacier walking in Iceland

Well, our two-week adventure is just about done. We’re going out with a bang, though, as today was a really fantastic glacier walk in southern Iceland on the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue (don’t ask me to try and pronounce that, I just copied and pasted it from the Web site!). A and I rolled out of bed around 7:30 a.m. and sloooowly got dressed in the dark, as all our roommates (by yesterday morning, there were three other girls in here) were still sleeping. I have a lot of plastic bags in my suitcase, as well as one huge and very loud space bag, so I actually took my suitcase into the hall so I could open it up and root around to get what I needed for the day.

By 8:30, we were in our hostel lobby, and soon after, the Reykjavik Excursions shuttle bus pulled up to get us. After picking up some other folks in nearby hostels, we were off. It was a two-hour drive to the glacier, and around 10, the sun finally started coming up, and we got some great views:

During the ride, I also realized that sh*t, I’d forgotten my gloves!! We stopped at a service station about 30 minutes from the glacier to visit the restroom and buy food, and luckily they had some Polartec fleece gloves for sale. They were a bit small, but I just found the largest pair, and bought them without even looking at the price.

Then, we all (there were about 12 of us, and two guides) arrived at the end of the glacier “tongue,” and split into two groups. Our guide was named Atna (or something … that’s his name in my blog, anyway). We got fitted for crampons, and got ice axes. Then we walked a few hundred feet out past the car-park area, and sat down to strap on our crampons. Atna gave us about two minutes of training on walking with the crampons, and then we were off:

Because no snow had fallen on the glacier, we didn’t have to worry about ice bridges or hidden cravasses. The ground was solid ice, and you could see the blue of the water/ice very clearly (the dust/dirt everywhere is thanks to all the winds and volcanic dust that gets blown around):

Obligatory shot with the ice axe held in a funny position..:

Atna takes us through an ice tunnel:

Atna helps someone get up and out of the ice tunnel:


The weather was of course cold (I’d say in the 20s, Fahrenheit), and we even had some snow flurries. Plus it got windier and windier the higher up we went. Atna would periodically just stop and look around for seemingly no reason at all, and we’d all just stand around him, waiting…waiting…and then he’d whistle some tune after a few minutes and set off again. Very strange, and not super fun when we were amid the wind gusts!

On the way back to Reykjavik, we stopped to visit two waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. I’m beat now, so I’ll try to post pics of those later (they’re your basic waterfalls, no offense, Icelanders!). On the 1.5-hour journey from the second waterfall to Reykjavik, darkness quickly fell, and the bus was really silent. We got back to our hostel around 6:30 p.m. Turned out we had a new roommate, also Indian, but from Australia. She (let’s call her S), A and I all hit it off right away, and headed out around 8 (A wanted to shower) to track down an Italian restaurant recommended by the hostel’s receptionist. We set out, and immediately got lost (yeah, surprise! street signs are a rare commodity in downtown Reykjavik, at least for us!). We walked in a couple big circles, asked a couple random folks for help, and then finally stumbled into the restaurant a good 40 minutes later (we discovered on the way back that the place was actually only about 5 blocks from our hostel …). The food was good (especially the delicious warm chocolate cake we got for dessert), but due to super slow service, we didn’t pay our bill until 11:30 p.m. We were going to stop by a bar on the way back to “meet people,” but the cold was getting to us by that point, so we ended up just coming right back. A and I spent some time trying to pack up most of our bags, as we have to check out by 10 a.m. tomorrow. Our flight back home to Seattle isn’t until nearly 5, so we have a few hours to kill between check-out and catching the FlyBus to the airport — we’ll spend those hours shopping downtown, and finally seeing Reykjavik in the daylight for the first time!

OK, exhausted … Pooja out.


2 Responses to “Day 12: Glacier walking in Iceland”

  1. Awesome pics :) but c'mon, how many waterfalls can you walk all the way around, 360 degs? (Didja do that?) :) Glad you had a great visit! And yes, your guide (probably either Árni or Atli?) sounds typically Icelandic. :) How about that lovely wind, eh?? Good use of all your REI cold-weather gear, right?

  2. We wouldn't know — they said you can't (or they won't let you) go behind the falls in the winter, as it's too slippery. And I believe it — at the first falls, where you walk up to the base on this gravel path, we were slipping and sliding all over, as the mist from the waterfall had fallen and then frozen on the rocks. The wind was intense, man! Totally wish we'd brought balaclavas or ski masks or something. Thankfully the winds came and went, though, so it wasn't that bad the entire outing. We definitely made use of the outerwear we'd happened to bring, not knowing we'd need it for something like this!

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