How did we get on a glacier? Check out the recap of day one here.
On Sunday morning, we awoke in the van to a much better day than it had been a night: the rain had moved out and, while it was a bit chilly at the campground, the overcast clouds were not threatening any more rain. We had some granola bars for breakfast and some G7 instant coffees (which we had discovered in Vietnam and are the best instant coffee I’ve ever had) and walked across the campground to the Mountain Guides HQ.
After being fitted for harnesses and helmets and crampons, we drove a few minutes away to the base of Skaftafellsjökull, a glacier tongue coming off of Iceland’s largest icecap, Vatnajökull. It’s also the filming location of the ice planet in Interstellar, which isn’t hard to imagine: once you’ve walked a small ways into the glacier, it’s easy to think you’re on another planet.
The hike we chose was four hours, and was luckily the best weather we had our entire trip. The sun was out (somewhat) and there wasn’t even the threat of rain. I think at one point I even got warm enough to unzip my jacket. We had an intermediate hike, which included being tied off to ropes on the side of the mountain and walking next to some pretty intense-looking cravasses, and even walking down into one. Being obsessed with Everest, it was a fun experience to be tied to ropes, all geared up and walking around in crampons.
The glacier hike was definitely the highlight of our trip, and I would suggest it—even this particular one—to anyone visiting Iceland. Our guide was excellent, the hike was more than just a meandering, easy-going sightseeing jaunt, and we got to walk around on top of (and inside) a fucking glacier. Incredible.
Afterwards, we stopped by the incredibly conveniently-placed Glacier Goodies food truck right between the campgrounds and the Mountain Guides offices. Starving from our expedition, I got a cup of lobster bisque (delicious) and an order of fish and chips (pretty good). I did, however, miscalculate the exchange rate and what I thought was $5 US was actually closer to $50. Oops.
After lunch, we took some surprisingly warm showers at the campground (which were added to our camping fee for just a few dollars) and moved on to make our way through more of Iceland. We stopped at Drangshlíð, a massive rock in the middle of a field with small houses erected around and, it seems, inside part of the rock. The houses were worn down and covered in moss, and have elven folklore attached to them. Once again, walking around in the area, with no one else around, seeing this quiet landscape during an overcast day, it was easy to imagine being part of some other world. Much of Iceland can give you that impression.
We made a few more random stops to get out, stretch our legs, and take in the endless landscape of overcast green—Andy had become particularly enamored with the local moss—and then found the Skjol Campgrounds. As we were setting up our van for the night, it began to rain pretty heavily, but the inside of the van stayed dry. We ended up eating dinner in the small bar/restaurant at the campgrounds, having some overpriced pizza and Gull beers, but they both hit the spot. We all fell asleep to the sound of rain on the van.
Can we top a glacier? Possibly, since day 3 has a surprise ending…