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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Iceland 9.2: Hofn to Hella

View Iceland 9.2: Hofn to Hella in a larger map
  • Glacier Wonder Hike
  • Fjardrargljufur 
  • Dyrholaey
  • Arhus Gistihus

I had high hope for this morning.  One things that I looked forward to the most this trip was the snowmobile tour on the Vatnajokull glacier.  Unfortunately, it started downpour in the middle of the night, and by the time we drove to the meeting point for our snowmobile tour, it turned into full-on rainstorm.  The weather was beyond miserable.  There were only us and another car showed up at the parking lot for the tour.  Ten minutes later, the tour guide showed up, explained to us in a straight forward, no non-sense Icelandic manner that there would be zero visibility on the glacier, and asked us if we still want to go on the tour.  I asked, "Should we go? Would it be dangerous?"  The tour guild shred his shoulder and said, "It's up to you.  It is not dangerous, but the tour is expensive.  I don't want you to get angry if you go on the tour and not being able to see much.  If you want to go, we can go."  By now, I was pretty use to the answers Icelanders gave to me when I asked questions and hope for suggestions.  Somehow, I felt that I was never able to get subjective inputs from them.  The tour guide did not seem very enthusaitc, and as disappointed as I was, I knew it was not the right condition for snowmobile.  Sigh..... I guess that gave us a reason to revisit. 

We went for the back-up plan and drove back to the Skaftafell for glacier hike.  Luckily once we drove pass the Jokulsarlon, the downpour turned to drizzling.  The sun came out, and we saw the biggest rainbow in the sky.

We booked a glacier hiking tour with Glacier Guide at the park entrance.  Before coming to Iceland, I was indifferent about glacier.  When we went to Argentina two years ago, I bypassed El Calafate because I did not think it was worth the effort to travel all the way to see some ice and freeze my ass off.  How was I wrong about that!

Nothing can prepare you from walking on the glacier for the first time.  There was no other experience to drew from.  The glacier was transcendent and majestic.  Standing in front of it, I was in awe. 

Our guide was probably the most talkative Icelander that we met so far.  He was friendly and funny.  We chatted along the way about all things Icelandic.  He explained the fluid glacier landscapes and showed us some amazing moulins. (A moulin is a narrow, tubular hole or crack through which water enters a glacier from the surface.)  When he told us after a long dark winter, how he hiked up to the top of the mountain alone in the early morning and saw the first ray of the sunlight in months, it made me want to come here to experience the presistant darkness in the winter.

The weather held up perfectly for our hike. The 2.5 hours hike did not end until 4 hours later.  We thoroughly enjoyed our glacier hike and the tour guide's company.

The morning rainstorm and the prolonged hike delayed our plan for today.  Luckily, we were able to pack a lot more activities in a day because the Sun would not go down until around 9 PM.  We headed back to Hella and made many photo stops along the way, such as Fjadrargljufur canyon near Kirkjubaejarklaustur. (Honestly, I could not pronounce 80% of the places we visited.)

When we arrived at Dyrholaey, it was raining sideways once again.  The wind was so strong that I could not hold the camera steady.  There was something special about Dyrholaey.  The foggy, windy, and stormy weather created this dreamlike state.  I felt a different energy that was eerie and other-worldly.

The miserable weather we encountered today did not damped our moods at all.  On the contrary, it enhanced our experience.  Somehow, it felt right to have the harsh weather at this part of the world to go with the whole rough viking backdrop. 

I began to understand why more than 50% of the Icelanders believe in elves and hidden people.  There was a mythical arua to this extraodinary beauty at the end of the earth that felt like it was beyond human existance....

It was a long day.  After dinner at the local pizzria, we checked into our simple cabin at Arhus in Hella and called it a night.  


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