Friday, June 30, 2017

Iceland Day 7 June 30, 2017

Today's wild & crazy adventure encompassed just about everything I was expecting Iceland to be and came prepared for.  We ventured into Thorsmork named after Thor the Norse God.  In today's day and age Thor is the God of Thunder.  We followed the trail that would take us up to Fimmvorduhals.  This sits between two newly formed mountains from the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused such a havoc for all the airlines and travellers.  A thought crossed my mind, in the scheme of things 2017 seems early to be heading up into that terrain.  I think Thor was watching us and delivered everything extreme except thunder and an eruption.  Looking at our bus for the day in hindsight tells our story.
As I wake each morning I get excited for what the day will bring.  I felt a little extra of that this morning.  I geared up, got out the door, waited at my pickup point, and along comes my ride.  Lisa was the driver and guide.  She was pretty & petite, muscled & tattooed and driving this machine-like mini bus.  She warned/advised us what to expect for the drive with extra enfaces on the last hour.  The "F Road" on the Landmannalaugar adventure was mild compared to this beast of an "F Road".  

After ninety minutes of driving from the city to the F Road and then sixty minutes on it, we arrived out in the middle of a place that's looking like something I have never seen before.  It's overcast, there's a slight drizzle and it is the greenest of greens.
The climb starts right from our ride and in a matter of minutes the views begin. It's a dirt narrow trail, with little rugged sections to climb up through.  It's fun and so different. 
We all know there are elves in Iceland.  They live in areas like this.  This is one of their benches.  There were a few of these benches along the trail.
We climbed higher and higher.  It got greener and crazier.  We hiked over the Cat's Spine (a rocky foot wide exposed don't look down kind of trail) and up the Devil's Comb (dirt foot wide slanted exposed trail with a rope to assist with getting through and up this section).  

We came out onto what Lisa called a heath.  It was flat and wide and went on forever.  I could see hints of mountains off in the distance.  We kept our heads down 
and battled the wild, the cold, the rain and the snow.

Getting to this point seemed like an  accomplishment but we had more climbing ahead of us up the snow slopes to another flat snow covered section where you could see lava sticking up out of the snow.  This lava came from the 2010 volcano eruption.  It formed two new mountains which we were in between.  I could slightly see them through the snow and cloud.  Our destination was to this wall of lava.  
We spent a little time here before beginning our trek back through the snow with two long slopes to glissade down.  Then back to the heath then the green.  The Devil's Comb was easier to come down but the Cat's Spine was still sketchy.

We arrived back at our ride and prepared for the adventure back to civilization.  When we made it back onto the main highway I relaxed, closed my eyes and relived the day.  I wanted to make sure I remembered every little thing about this wild and crazy and beautiful part of Iceland.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Iceland Day 5 June 28, 2017

At times in my life when something unexpected is thrown my way right out of the blue that I did not plan, that I am not prepared for, that I know very little about, then left with a tiny window of opportunity to become informed and prepared mentally, panic sets in, I become flustered and confused and worried and all those bad things.  Today I was thrown one of those curve balls but I caught it and held on tight so I could fully embrace it.  When I was planning this Iceland trip and figuring out what I wanted it to look like, I remained practical to a certain extent when it came to the costs.  I had priorities of where big money would go.  Some things that were a must I went for no matter what, other things that were outrageously expensive (in my opinion) that I would love to do but were not must's, I quickly erased from the planning board.  One of those "would love to do" but was not a must was to hike on a glacier in Iceland.  Three hours into what was to be for me a sighting seeing tour along Iceland's south coast, the realization set in that I was on the wrong tour.  At the pick up point he called my name and I hopped on the mini bus for the Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon Lagoon Sightseeing Tour when in fact three hours later I found out I was on the Jokulsarlon Lagoon and Glacier Hike Adventure Tour.    What the six other people paid just over $400cdn for, I would be getting for $200cdn.  Things happen for a reason and are just meant to be.  Today turned out being a diamond of a day!
When this mixed up mistake came to the forefront, our guide made a phone call, confirmed I could go on the Glacier Hike and not have to wait in the vehicle, then he went into recovery mode and worked to make this day right for me too.  Vik was not on his itinerary but it was on mine.

Stopping to admire glaciers was not on his itinerary but was on mine.  The other six people were now beginning to feel OK that I was along as their day was including nice unplanned visits.
Today's highlight for me was to be at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.   Two friends, ML and RW, both who had ventured here, both recommended to hit this location.  On the way here we passed through a wild rain storm and even saw two tornadoes off in a field.  I thought just enjoy it no matter what.  As we got closer it cleared and it was "pinch me is this for real" beautiful.

As we entered evening it was time to head to the Glacier Guides Headquarters to meet our guide, sign the waivers, collect our ice axe and crampons then hop on the big bus that would take us up to where we would begin our hike to the glacier.  As we began hiking towards the Glacier, I captured a zoomed in shot of our destination.

                                        going higher and higher
                         surrounded by the walls of the Falljokull Glacier 
We stuck to the gentler sections of the Glacier. I could see a group far off much higher up roped together and sporting helmets.  There was loads to see where we were and we had to pay attention to our foot placement.
Our guide showed us how to drink the glacier water without getting our hands cold and wet. I secured my ice axe over the stream, held on to each end, straddled the steam then kicked back my feet and stuck my crampons into the glacier to secure my feet, then bend down and drink the purest water in the world.   

                   We had the opportunity to play on the Glacier.
It was well into the evening now and time to retreat from the Glacier.  I took one last look back at where we were and took a minute to think, thank you to whoever wherever for what transpired today.
We were on our way again, we were all falling asleep off and on.  Our guide still wanted to make today right so at 10:00pm he pulled into the parking lot for Seljalandsforss Waferfalls.   

These are the waterfalls you can walk behind so of course I did.  

 I arrived back at my home away from home shortly before 1:00am.  Wired? Yes! Tired? Yes!  It's light out and I need to eat dinner but feel like I should be having breakfast.  It's the next day what ever day that is. I do know it's the day after yesterday!  As I am writing this story, I can't fully wrap my mind around what I saw and experienced today.  It was a diamond of a day!         

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Iceland Day 4 June 27, 2017

Reykjavik is full of unique beauty and I wanted a full day to make the investment of exploring what this edge of the Atlantic Ocean looks like.  The forecast called for whatever it called for so I went prepared for whatever. My home away from home is located a mere three and a half minute walk to the sea.  As soon as I reached the water's edge and breathed in that air, I felt at home.  

                                        Solfar Sun Voyager

                                cafes & cobblestone streets

I passed time meandering up and down streets here and there.  This is very much a walkable place with something different around each corner.  This caught my eye down a narrow back alley, a banking machine in the back of a minivan.

                                      Visitor Information Center

For a later lunch, I went for a feast of fish & chips.   Between the fresh ocean air, the exercise and now a full tummy, it was time to walk a little more then just sit and admire the scenery.

After more meandering, more strolling, a little shopping, I worked my way back towards my home away from  home, had dinner then headed back to the seaside to explore off in the other direction .

That's little Videy Island looking so green in front of the larger island. The small white circular structure on the left is The Imagine Peace Tower a memorial to John Lennon from his widow, Yoko Ono.   The larger white building on the right is Videy House.

With the pairing together of ocean air and exercise which makes me sleepy and want to sleep and a midnight sun which tells me stay up and keep busy, I need to work through some self talk because my mind is not quite getting it.  With a big, long, long  day tomorrow it's time to get home and  pull those blinds and draw those drapes!