Our fourth day in Iceland was probably my favorite. I got to check off an item on my bucket list: Hiking on a Glacier!
We started the morning with a drive from Vík to Skaftafell National Park where our tour would meet. On the way, we past the Skeiðarársandur. A Sandur is basically a barren desert formed with a volcano erupts underneath a glacier melting a significant amount of ice and causing a ridiculous amount of water and volcanic rock to run out from under the glacier to the ocean. This is very, very common in Iceland, but the Skeiðarársandur is the largest in both the country and the world. Its truly hard to describe how massive and desolate a sandur can be.
Depending on the age of the sandur, it may have started to grow moss over the base craggy lava remnants. This moss in no joke. It can be over a foot thick and is so spongy! Eventually, grass grows up through the moss creating the lumpy fields seen all over the island. Really, most of the ground in Iceland feels soft because of the moss.
Once we got to Skaftafell, we finally got to see some glaciers! Really, its all part of Vatnajökull but each of the fingers have their own impossible names.
We met up with our guide from Glacier Guides (excellent, btw) and took a bus over to the base of Falljökull.
One of the interesting things about the glacial fingers in this area is that rather than just ending, they actually dive deep under the ground extending 10+ km from where they appear to end. The ground insulates the glacier, preventing melting.
We happened to be on the very first Glacier Guides tour of the season. Every year, the surface of the glacier looks different. This particular glacier retreated about 20m from last year.
One of the interesting features, and this glacier's namesake, is this icefall. A glacier is a very dynamic environment. It is constantly moving and changing. Underneath this glacier, there is a large cliff. As the ice moves over the cliff, it falls and breaks apart creating this chaotic scene.
We brought L's free coffee cup onto the glacier and drank the water from the streams. It was the most amazing water I've ever had!
Driving back to our hotel, we saw this. Not sure how it happened, but the next day he was gone!