Iceland Day 7: Snæfellsjökull National Park

It’s 11:07PM and we’re actually back at the hotel already. I think it will be strange when we return home and have to go through darkness in the evenings. I’ve become so accustomed to light all the time. It’s nice to know that you aren’t rushed to see things. If we wanted to, we could leave now and go for a hike, but we did a number of hikes today already.

Our day started at 9:00AM. After breakfast, we decided to drive as far as the road would lead us to Snæfellsjökull. The Snæfellsjökull glacier is 1446m (4745 ft) above sea level. It was first climbed in 1754. The mountain is an active volcano, having been built up through numerous eruptions during the last 800,000 years. The summit crater is 200m (650 ft) deep, and full of ice. The latest eruption was very large and took place around 1800 years ago. On a clear day it can be seen from Reykjavik about 200 km away. Due to global warming the glacier has shrunken and it continue to shrink. Some researches predict that the glacier would vanish in less than 50 years.

Our intention was not to hike it yet because it was cloudy and or rainy (we could not see the peak from the ground). The road in was approximately 7.5km on gravel. The scenery was very interesting – lava rocks mixed with moss, and views of the ocean, mountains/glacier and snow. Big snow trucks and snowmobiles marked the end of the road. This is where we parked our car and prepared to continue on foot. It was 12 degrees C, so we grabbed our rain jackets, which are wind proof. The terrain was a mixture of snow, loose gravel and large volcanic rocks. Up and down we went as we headed towards one of the higher peaks. Along the way, we saw 3 snowmobiles making their way in our direction. It looked like a guide plus 2 members. It was rather amusing because the instructor got off his snowmobile and was running back to the others to help them out. I’m not sure if he forgot to put the thing in park, but slowly we watched his snowmobile ‘running away’, and after he helped the second guy, he had to chase down and jump on his moving vehicle. The second rider was very inexperienced. He was very jerky and even though Nelson and I were not standing close to each other, we both anticipated what was about to happen next. The guy was driving his snowmobile on an angle and suddenly it tipped over. I looked over at Nelson and he was bent over laughing! He quickly composed himself and said he was going to go down and help the guy out (the rider was unable to get his vehicle upright and the other 2 riders had taken off). Just as Nelson was about to reach the guy, the leader skidded up. Nelson and I continued onwards and upwards, clambering up the rocky terrain. We made it up pretty high, to one of the non-snow capped peaks. It was windy and colder up there, so after refuelling with some trail mix and taking some photos, we made our way back down. Down was a lot easier this time since we decided to walk on the snow. It would have been fun on a toboggan.

We stopped for a delicious fish lunch in the town of Arnarstapi before going on a coastal hike towards Hellnar. The cod came with barley, which is a nice change from rice, pasta or potatoes. Mixed in were sunflower seeds, something that Nelson liked. The hike was supposed to be 2.5km, but according to my GPS, it was just over 3km one way. The hike was easy but the views were beautiful. It would have been spectacular on a clear day. Nelson brought the iPod and had music playing as we hiked – romantic! It was quite amusing when I found out that he had stuffed the iPod into the packed hood of his jacket. We giggled every time we walked by other people because I’m sure they could hear the music.

The hike ends at the same restaurant we had dinner at last night. We stopped in to grab soup, apple pie and coffee before going back. Bird life is phenomenal in Iceland. On our way back, we spent some time watching, filming and photographing various types of birds.

Our final hike was the Saxholl crater climb. It’s not much of a hike. You climb up to the top of the crater, which only takes about 10 minutes. It was about 7:30 or 8:00PM when we were done. We decided to drive a bit further to the town of Olafsvik to get gas and pick up some things from the supermarket. Not much was open when we got there. The supermarket closed at 6, so we decided to just head back to our hotel. Since we had te soup in the middle of the afternoon, we weren’t very hungry, but we also know that restaurants here don’t open late. On our way back, Nelson noticed a restaurant across from the horse fields, which isn’t far from our hotel. We walked over to find out if it was a restaurant. It isn’t really – it’s a beautiful kitchen and dining room for guests that are staying in their cottages, but since they had lots of extra food, we were encouraged to stay. Man, they gave us so much food! We had the fish soup (again), an asparagus soup, fried fish (delicious), salad, potatoes, bread, toast and coffee. We’re definitely not going to bed hungry tonight.

Tomorrow is our final night in the West. We are headed towards Borganes. After that, we are in the South doing the Ring Road.

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