For our first few days it’s been nothing but wind and snow. On the day we set off for our ice cave adventure it was all about the rain — OMG so much rain (and wind). It seems the only constant in Iceland weather is the brutal wind (it’s whipping against our window as I type — kudos to the carpenters, the shit holds).
As uncomfortable as walking on ice in the rain is, we lucked out because our guide said he believes the rain will make the cave unsafe. The poor souls who booked hikes for today will not get to see the wonders we did.
According to Wikipedia Iceland has 13 large glaciers, we went with the biggest one, Jokulsarlon Glacier, but don’t worry our tubby selves didn’t hike much of it. Thanks to the family that owns Hali County farm, which also includes lodging, food, a museum and glacier guides, we didn’t have to work hard. They did it all for us. Every winter they hike the glacier in search of the right ice caves to bring their clients to.
Ice caves are formed by the glacier rivers that flow in the summer. The caves are basically tunnels created by melting water. They are monitored daily (hourly, I believe, on rainy days) to ensure they are safe enough for we tourists to eww and ahhh and click selfies like there’s no tomorrow. So far this season it’s only been used a few times thanks to unstable conditions. Again, Joe and I are grateful for our luck.
The rules are you keep your crampons (if you want to walk without falling) and helmet on, and you don’t leave the cave without a guide. We were also advised not to venture into the dark portion of the cave because it’d be too narrow for us (just wait until you see how rounded Joe and I truly are when layered up and wearing a helmet that emphasises our chunky chins).
As for global warming, we learned that shrinking and growing is a normal part of a glacier’s life cycle, however, the rate of its melting the past few years is unprecedented. It’s changing the landscape of Iceland, and Icelanders are seeing things they’ve not seen before. Each year its retreat is significantly different.
This picture doesn’t show it properly, but you see our snow vehicles right? (and while I know fossil fuel is part of the problem, it was awesome being in a snow jeep) Okay look way beyond them and you see a black band of sand where three vehicles are parked. That’s where the entrance to the ice cave was last year. Basically, its melt has brought it that much farther in.
After visiting the cave we stopped at Glacier beach and lagoon, and oh wow. I just wish it wasn’t raining so hard, so I could whip out my DSLR and get better pics, but my hardy little Sony bridge camera (love that thing) held out in the rain and still captured some of it. Anyway here’s proof that Iceland isn’t just blue. It’s black and crystal clear too!
Don’t those ice fragments look like crystal seals/walruses/pick your blubber critter.
Some shots of glacier beach and lagoon…
I’ve got to hurry and finish this up since we’re checking out and facing another windy/wet drive (to Vik). This is blow your house down weather.
Anyway, here’s some more shots of Iceland ice…
and a taste of how the weather and landscape change in just 24 hours
snowy landscape one day
fog, dormant grass and rain the next!
Of course there’s plenty more to share, but we’re off again! When I have more time I’ll whip up a post about all the rest.
until then we’re off exploring this great island (and it’s totally worth coming here in winter if you’re okay with bad weather).