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Glacier Hunting in Iceland
A short, but #active #hike, a rocky incline trail and lengthy distance from #Reykjavik lies spectacular #glaciers and brilliant glacial waters. I was lucky to experience these natural masterpieces during my last trip to #Iceland.
The biting wind hit me like a slap on the face as I took cover behind a chunk of ice larger than most cars.
Liquid streamed from my watering eyes with each icy gust of wind, streaking black smudges of make-up down my reddened cheeks. But, the implausible view in front of me made it all worth it.
I was standing at the snout of the Fjallsjökull glacier.
If there’s one thing you can’t miss in Iceland it’s the glaciers—literally, you will see several of them directly from the seat of your car as you drive along the south coast portion of the Ring Road.
Many tour companies will adorn you in crampons and take you right up on the glaciers, but it’s also worth a quick hike off the road to check them out on your own.
The second day of my Ring Road Express Iceland tour with Iceland Unlimited was a day dedicated to glacier hunting *cue adventurous Indiana Jones style music*
Our first stop was at the small glacial lagoon of Svínafellsjökull glacier. We took a short hike along the edge of the glacier and up a path overlooking the ice and the lagoon.
It has a rocky incline that eventually leads to the glacier itself, from which you may recognize scenes from Game of Thrones (lots of good chase scenes between Jon Snow & Ygritte).
...you may recognize scenes from Game of Thrones
I have to admit that the light from the cloudy grey day, the murky water and small layer of ash on the ice didn’t exactly thrill me in terms of overly inspiring landscapes (in comparison to the rest of this jaw-dropping country).
But, I was entirely shocked and equally bummed when I later realized that I had been exploring THIS place, without actually getting to see the magical ice cave that I had seen in so many incredible photographs.
There’s always next time. Because there will be a next time.
The next stop was reserved for Fjallsárlón, a lesser known lagoon that is often outshined by its popular neighbour, yet equally beautiful.
What likely made it even better is not only the fact that there wasn’t a single other soul in sight, but the radiant source of the lagoon; the glacier.
...there wasn’t a single other soul in sight...
Fjallsjökull Glacier is one of the more attractive glaciers in Iceland because of the lack of ash covering on its face. It is not a dull grey like many of the others, but a brilliant clean white.
The real star of the day was the infamous Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Jökulsárlón is a place that is often over saturated with tourists, but you will understand this local demand at the moment you lay eyes on it.
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While the glacier is less visible from the road, the lagoon alone makes up for it.
Its undeniable beauty is enough to make even the laziest of travellers make the lengthy jaunt from distant Reykjavik.
Jökulsárlón is one of those places in the world that takes your attention hostage and doesn’t let it go until you have to physically be dragged away from the scene.
The bright blue glacial water fades away into a deep navy as it recedes from the shore, habitually speckled with glistening sunlit deposits of glacier ice.
Jökulsárlón is one of those places in the world that takes your attention hostage and doesn’t let it go...
The glaciers themselves are almost as fluorescent as the water due to the way that light travels through them. They take on a distinctive blue tint by the absorption of both (infa)red and yellow light, leaving light at the blue end of the spectrum more visible as it travels with a longer wavelength and lower frequency through the frozen water molecules. Of course, glacial lakes are always a brighter blue due to glacial sediments, but this does not effect the ice itself.
Luckily for us, we had travelled here during the off season at the tail end of a long winter, and there were only a few other people milling around the icy shores.
This is just one of the many advantages to travelling around Iceland during the off season.
Traipsing down a rocky hill, I hopped up onto a large boulder sticking out of the icy water to get a better view of the whole scene.
Thinking that I was being clever, I fished a lone piece of glacial ice out of the water and held it up above my head.
Suddenly, my entire arm was dripping with freezing cold water and it had soaked through three layers. At least it made a good photo.
By the end of the day we had graduated to professional glacier hunters and headed onward to the snowy north *re-play the Indiana Jones music*