Starting Location: Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland
Ending Location: Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland
Well, if there was a day of extremes, today was one. We started the day cold near massive amounts of water and we ended the day near something very hot and dry.
This morning we awoke and ambled off to breakfast. There we found our first bus of tourists. We had heard they existed. We have feared them for our whole journey. We feared the dreaded lines at the breakfast buffet, the matching shirts, the excessive camera equipment. I mean we have been here for over 8 days, we were no longer tourist. Shucks, we had already been on glacier, seen seals, hotpots and steam vents. We even know how to call a tow truck and have tires replaced. We are seasoned pros. We endured, snickered at the tourists and moved on.
Stop 1 – do you want Ice with that?: We headed back to the east to visit a glacier that we had passed yesterday. We had so much fun on day 7 climbing without proper equipment or guidance that we decided to see how it is done safely. We booked ourselves on a 3 hour guided tour (no not on the Minnow). We arrived and the hooked us up with really cool ice axes and crampons (spikes that attached to boots for walking on the ice). We had a young guy that would make any young girl swoon. He was cool. He looked the part as an experienced mountain guide. For those 3 hours he was our hero. We wanted to be just like Siggy.
To se this particular record straight, my fear was not climbing on the glacier. My fear was that he was going to take one look at me and declare that I was physically unfit for the trip. When I huffed and puffed just to put on my crampons, I was convinced we were doomed. He did not flinch and off we went. At first he took slow and deliberate steps as we moved onto the glacier. I thought we had just signed up for a granny walk around the foot of the glacier. To my surprise and fascination, he took us on a wonderful tour of the glacier, its crevasses, cauldron, sculpted ice, rivers and sink holes. We had a blast. We learned more in those three hours than we could have imagined.
My brother, son and I posed for a picture, which is below. The picture above is a crevasse that we were able to jump over (with guide’s permission). It is about 3 meters wide there.
Stop 2 – Ash Tuesday: After our exhilarating tour of the glacier we headed towards Vik. We had heard that there was a nature refuge that was well-known for Puffins. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get there. As we agot about 1/2 the way there we noticed a growing haze. The growing haze turned into what appeared as fog. Then it became a thick fog, limiting visibility. As we got nearer to Vik we realized we had entered the volcano’s ash zone. Everywhere we looked was graying. The sun was disappearing but the people went on with their as if nothing unusual was happening. We stopped for lunch, mentioned the ash to the counter girl and she off-hand replied “Oh, is there ash today?” She looked out the window and told us it was much worse yesterday.
On the road to VIK…
After lunch we decided to try to find the bird sanctuary. Iceland is very well known for its puffin population and we could not go home and tell the wives that we did not see any puffins. We did find the puffin sanctuary, but it was closed, not due to ash, but due to the fact that the birds were nesting and needed their privacy. We we directly under the main could of ash at this time. The ash stung as it hit our faces. It entered every crevice that you could imagine. Everything in the car was dusted just by opening a door.
Here is a short video my brother shot while we were stopped here.
Quote of the day and title of the post: After a great morning climbing the glacier and a challenging drive into a active volcano ash cloud my son had one thing to say “Are we going to get candy now?” No “Wow that was great!” No “Wow, that was scary!” No, he asks to get some candy! I did get him some candy, he deserved it after spending way too much time gathering a Mt. Dew bottle full of freshly fallen ash.
Plans for tomorrow: We are going to try to get to the north side of Eyjafjallajoekull to get a better look at the plume. As you saw, from the south side you only see the ash. Then we head to Reykjavik to get ready for our return journey.