Explore a Glacier

Published on 24 April 2023 at 05:56

Have you ever hiked on top of a moving ice cap? If your answer is no, let me describe the beauty that you might encounter. My tour was with Local Guide, I would highly recommend this tour company. I had nothing but good experiences with them and their guides both times I booked though their company. Their communication was excellent, they kept the group size small, they were flexible and accommodating, and the guides were some of the best people I met in Iceland! First you start at the base, your boots still on solid ground. Our start to the day was rainy and overcast but oh how the clouds parted for this hike on top of massive amounts of ice. Glaciers are large areas of compacted snow that form crystal blue ice, and in Iceland they also have areas of black volcanic striations that contrast the bright white and blue ice. What a beautiful sight on a cloudy or a sunny day! 

The meeting point was at Freysnes station, but they also meet in the winter at Glacier lagoon. Their 4x4 vehicles are easy to spot as they are marked with their logo. We all geared up with helmets, crampon (ice cleats you strap to your boots), and ice picks. It was only about a 20 min drive and gave us time to get acquainted with each other. After walking to the base of the ice, we paused to strap on our crampons (spikes that you strap to your boots so you can walk on the ice) and proceeded up the incline, each step making a crunching sound as the picks dug into the ice providing security from slipping. we stopped briefly at one point to get a drink from the glacier, if you have never had glacier water-its the freshest coldest water you will ever drink! Our guide showed us how to do the push up with our ice pick to drink from one of the water flows :)

One of the unique things about these tours is that where you go depends on the experience and comfort level of the group, we had an adventurous group and so we pushed all the way to the top where the ice flow patterns start making unique formations and gaps in the glacier 

Another interesting fact about glaciers: they are constantly changing, especially the ice flow area at the top. Also you can see from the previous picture that some of the ice you navigate can be quite steep, this is my personal favorite because it requires a little bit more balance and coordination with your crampons, Local Guide is very good at teaching different skills with walking on inclines and assisting when needed. Some of our group didn't feel comfortable going down some of the inclines so our guide anchored a rope and assisted them down in a safe and controlled manner that the members felt more comfortable with.

I think pictures speak louder than words, but sometimes word pictures can also be helpful. Imagine being on top of ice that stretches out in all directions, in some area farther than your eyes can see. A light drizzle coats your rain proof clothes and your spirit soars at the adventure you're on. Your ice cleats dig into the ice giving your sure footing, and your breathing quickens as you hike up an elevation of pure marbled white and blue ice. Around you the gentle swish of everyones rain proof pants sets the pace for an upward climb. A trickle can be heard as the gentle streams of water make their way down the glacier. To your far right lays the edge of the glacier with giant looming crevasses their deep blue ice dropping into depths too steep to see the bottom from your angle.  They create an interesting pattern with the backdrop of the mountains behind. As you crest a particular ice hill you are greeted with a pool of bright blue glacier water and to you left a tiny ice cave with diamond blue interior appears, through the cave you can see the patterns of the iceflow approaching. Around soft ice and up and down ice hills you traverse, its a wonderful time taking in the unique beauty and chatting with you follow travelers making new friends and hearing their stories. And then, all too suddenly you arrive at the top right below the giant ice flow and so you take some pictures to remember the time it felt like you were on top of the world and take a drink from the icy cold sweet water flowing down, which is also the most refreshing drink you will ever taste. The way down is filled with satisfaction but also a new longing to continue exploring this unique world, a new passion has been ignited and you know you will return to this icy world sometime in your future.

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