Iceland, Day 5

When we headed over to Iceland, Laura and I each had one thing we really wanted to do. I was determined to snorkel and she wanted to do a glacier hike. We got the snorkeling out of the way on our first full day and set out to tackle a glacier on (what should have been) our last full day.

We headed south along the coast to the Solheimajokull Glacier which is part of the Myrdalsjokull Ice Cap. It is the 4th largest glacier in Iceland and is actually located on the Katla volcano. Katla is one of the most active volcanos in Iceland, erupting every 40-80 years.

On our way to Solheimajokull we made a stop at Eyjafjallajokull, the infamous volcano that stranded tens of thousands of travelers when many European airports shut down due to the ash clouds.

We arrived at the glacier and were promptly fitted with crampons and given ice picks. Clearly these people did not know about my history with sharp objects and the danger they pose to my health. Once we were properly outfitted, we headed out onto the glacier.

The glacier was…dirty. Because of its location at the base of a volcano, there was a lot of ash.  There were formations called “dirt cones” everywhere. A thin layer of ash absorbs heat and causes the ice beneath it to melt quickly, washing the ash away with it. However, if a thick enough layer of ash forms, it insulates the underlying ice creating pyramid-esque structures as the surrounding ice melts more quickly. There were also many moulins, well-like shafts that allow melting water from the surface to quickly drain out into sub-glacial rivers and lakes. It was all very interesting.

We hiked around for several hours before heading back to the city. On our way, we stopped at two waterfalls: Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Both were very beautiful, but did not compare to Gullfoss.

Once again our Northern Lights excursion was cancelled as it was too cloudy. We were disappointed, but given that it had been a long and exhausting day we decided that maybe it was for the best. Plus, we had a lot of packing to do.

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16 November 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Photography, Travel.

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