Day Five – Drive to Hofn
Taking a break currently from my car ride for some quiet blogging. It’s hard to tell but I’m currently sitting off of route 1, between Vik and Hofn, on a lovely picnic table looking out at a few mountains and the largest glacier I have ever seen, and I believe it’s the biggest in Iceland as well. I’m writing here because I think if I wait a few minutes, the weather might change, and I can get an even better picture. Plus, I need a break from driving.
This morning, Liz left to drive to the airport around 6am, and my original plan was to say in bed till 10, then get on the road to meet up with the Arctic Adventures tour group to go on a glacier climb/ice climb. Instead, woke up at 8am, feeling refreshed (even though I went to bed at 2am the night before) so I decided to check out some of the places we didn’t get to yesterday. I drove 30 mins to the first waterfall, Gljúfrabúi, which you can walk up behind. It’s huge and beautiful.
On my way out, I stumbled across some hitchhikers from France and drove them to the next waterfall. This one was even bigger and required you to walk up 300? steps to get to the top. The view was amazing and you could walk behind it to see the stream feeding it. I had told the hitchhikers that I would be up and down and then driving 15 more mins to meet up with my tour guide, and when I told them they could leave their backpacks in the car, they were overjoyed (even more so when we were up at the top and they were so happy to not have brought their bags with them).
On the way down, I ran into a guy we had met the day before at one of the hot springs, so it was nice to have a walking companion for the trip back down. We exchanged Facebook info, so will probably run into him again in one of the next two places I stay.
Dropped off HH where I turned off route 1 on my way to Glacier hiking. They were super appreciative, and it was nice to have had a good experience picking them up. They were from France and it sounded like hitchhiking hadn’t been too easy. The weather yesterday wasn’t great and they got lost a couple times in a field with angry horses on one side, and the dive bomb birds, and some disgruntled sheep. I was the first American to have picked them up. Woohoo!
Glacier climbing was great. I got there before everyone else so had a chance to talk to our guide, Rowan. Great guy from New Zealand. He wasn’t even mad when I guessed Australia first (probably because I had mentioned the whiskey I had along for the trip). He suggested that we grab some ice from the glacier and have a quick drink at the end of the trip. I thought he was kidding…
They provided us with great hiking boots (my good ones were apparently not stiff enough) for 10.000 Kr ($10), crampons, ice pick, and a harness and we were off. The climbing wasn’t hard or that steep but could have been tough without the crampons. As long as you really stomp around, you’re pretty secure in the ice. We saw some cool ice caves and could look down holes that probably traveled 100-200m straight down, very blue, old ice. We took pictures and chatted (there were 9 of us in the group).
Once we got to the climbing spot we were able to sit and rest a bit while each person climbed to the top and then belayed down. I was pretty nervous because the climb he set up for us was right next to a water fall and a straight climb up. Thank god the guide next to us asked if anyone wanted to do his slightly easier climb. I was all over it. Probably only took 3-5 mins to climb up, and halfway up i realized my phone was in my pocket! Luckily one of the girls in my group snapped a shot of me making it to the top.
On the way back down, our guide did in fact grab a piece of glacier ice and when we got back to the bottom, 3 guides and me had a little (very little) toast with glacier ice and my Bulleit bourbon (which they loved).
Which brings me to now, and this glacier in front of me. Really hard to see though, and the weather wasn’t great at this point.
Last stop on the way to Hofn was Jökulsárlón (the glacier lagoon). I’ve found that once I get to 20:00 hours or so, I’m pretty fried so I just stopped quickly and was back on my way. Really beautiful though!
The night at Hofn was my first experience with staying in a hostel. I got in pretty late (after 9pm) and had signed up for a 9-person co-ed dorm because I thought that would be fun. Turns out co-ed is not “sexy” but just a bunch of men and women all asleep already in the dorm. The first thing I saw when I walked in was this bigger guy, shirt off, snoring and a room full of bunk beds. It was hot, dark, and everyone was asleep already. I didn’t have anything ready to go to shower or anything…so I figured I would have some whiskey and just wait until I got tired enough and then figure it out.
On her way out, the receptionist mentioned that there was a single bedroom still available, and how much it would be to switch to that. It was a lot, but I basically said “screw it, let’s throw more money at this problem.” So much better than being super anxious and not sleeping in a crowded room. With that set, I got back to the blog and figuring out the next day. An hour or so later the last guy came in and we wound up chatting for a bit. He’s from Virginia and we made plans to do some driving around the next day. He didn’t have a GPS so I was his godsend.
Got a good night’s sleep and made a plan to be at my next hostel early enough to set up shop.