South Coast, Iceland Day 5 – December 12th 2016
Today was the best day ever! Mom and I decided to be adventurous and walk on a glacier. We booked a tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides to walk the Sólheimajökull glacier on the South Coast of Iceland. Our tour guide, Gummi, was awesome. He’s part of Iceland’s search and rescue team and had lots of stories to share with the group on the 3 hr drive to the glacier from Reykjavik. Our group was the perfect size, 7 women including 3 friends from New York city, 2 friends from London, mom and myself. Gummi said it was the first all female tour he’s had.
The drive to get to the glacier went on the ring road (Iceland’s only highway) along the south coast. We saw black sand beaches, islands on the horizon and a mix of flat lands and mountains.
The Glacier itself was breath taking. To get to it’s base is about a 15-minute walk from the parking lot. As your walking, you go along a lagoon created by the glacier and mountains with green vegetation on all sides. The lagoon is a by-product of the rapid melting of the glacier. It appeared about 10 years ago and has only been increasing in size each year. Gummi was saying that when he was a boy, climbing the glacier with his family, the glacier base was right at the parking lot. That was in 1998. I always find it interesting and slightly hypocritical when tour guides start talking about global warming and the impact it has on their countries precious natural wonders. There always seems to be a hint of blame in their tone that somehow global warming is “the oil industries fault” or “societies fault” but never their own fault. Everyone on the tour and similar tours I’ve been to are shocked by the astonishing facts presented to them and just think its horrible that in 50 years this glacier might not exist. Yet then we all get back into the bus, drive 2 hours to a restaurant, eat a bunch of meat and dairy product and fly home the following day. As if somehow, we aren’t apart of the cause. It was nice however when he was mentioning this that mom yelled out “stop eating meat” and one of the girls on our trip was nodding her head in agreement. Maybe the world is changing. FYI if your still living under a rock and don’t know, the UN and Worldwatch Institute have estimated the livestock industry contributes upwards of 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
We walked on the glacier for about 2 hours and in that time, we had sun shine, clouds, gusts of wind and rain, hail and a light snowfall. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable at best and it seems the higher in elevation you go the more chaotic it becomes.
Gummi stopped and showed us how fast a glacier melts. They use an instrument consisting of a draw wire and probe sensor and through it down a pre-drilled hole at the beginning of each season. They measure a standard depth of 12 feet down into the hole and keep the probing devise at the same location throughout the season. At the end of the season they see how much slack of wire remains. It looked like since October this glacier has melted almost 10 feet.
After our glacier walk, we stopped at two waterfalls just off the highway. Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. They were not as impressive as Gulfoss.
After stopping for dinner (meat and dairy and French fries, yay…) we went to the Secret Lagoon which is a geothermal pool located in the town of Fludir. The pool used to be available only to locals and when we were there, it felt way more natural and local then other hot pools in Iceland. The bottom of the floor still has volcanic sand and rocks which is a fantastic foot exfoliator. The group spent a good hour or so in the lagoon chatting about world politics, specifically American and the Icelandic economy all while floating on pool noodles!
On the bus ride home, the girls and I noticed the cemeteries in the small towns. All the grave stone were lite up with Christmas lights and crosses!
We got home just in time to grab take away from Vinyl Café! I was dreaming about the lasagna all night so we indulged in that and a vegan chocolate brownie! Woot!