Friday, April 9, 2010


So I haven't been as active blogging as I thought I would be and time flies when you are busy. It's now the beginning of April, spring and then summer should be coming soonish... I hope...

Just recently we had easter break... It was during that time, just after my final exams for the semester that my brother, cousin and I decided to go hiking. We had set our sights on the newest Icelandic phenomenon, the VOLCANO next to Eyjafjallajökull!

Now seeing a volcano on the TV screen is kind of cool, but seeing one with your own eyes is something to behold!

© Forces of Nature

Fortunately the volcano decided to erupt right on a popular hiking trail at a place called Fimmvörðuháls, so it's quite accessible, either by walking or driving a truck over one of the glaciers next to the volcano. We decided to hike up to the volcano, after sitting on a school "bench" for the last few months I was ready to get some movement! 

© My brother and couson... hmm... roughing it!

The hike was pretty nice. It starts at Skógar next to one of Iceland's most spectacular waterfall, Skógarfoss. From there it is approximately 15 kilometers to the volcano with elevation gain of close to 1000 meters, starting very close to sea level. When we began the hike it started to snow and didn't stop until we got up close to the volcano. We were starting to wonder if we would see anything at all. 

It took us about 5 hours to get to it. We stopped for a few minutes to eat and rest at a cabin thats up there (Baldvinsskáli). The temperature was well below freezing and I feel sorry for anyone that went up there with no gloves, baklava, warm clothing or hiking boots. We had been hearing on the news about fools having to be rescued because of inadequate clothing, some even getting frostbite...

© Baldvinsskáli, our old and filthy rest stop.

Once we got up to the volcano unfortunately it was less than an hour to sunset and we only got about 15 minutes of actually looking around before we were told they were evacuating the area and we had to leave... We were not happy about that at all. We had planned to stay until dark and walk back in the darkness since seeing the volcano in darkness is just spectacular. 

Anyways, the reason they were evacuating was that another crater had started to form next to the already active one and there was a huge cloud of smoke coming from it and it was also raining ash. Pretty neat experience I have to say, but they wanted everyone out of there for safety, the volcano could blow up, they didn't know. It took about an 1.5 hours until people evacuated the area fully, some walking back but most of the people who were by the volcano came driving over the glaciers... no they did not use a Toyota Yaris, but trucks with big tires... Arctic Trucks! 

© The smoke and the Swedish army track vehicle.

Now the experience of coming so close to the volcano, seeing all the people there,  the rescue personnel and a bunch of helicopters flying over our heads felt being in a major disaster or war zone... At least they way I would imagine it or how I've seen it in the movies. :-)

Well, we decided to stick around a bit, which got us a ride back with the rescue personnel in their special Swedish military track vehicle, driving over the glacier. It took a while as we had to wait a bit for the rescue personnel, but we got extra time looking at the volcano from a distance and during night so we didn't mind. I was actually glad since I had hurt my foot early on in the hike and was dreading the walk back, only a small mistake and I could have twisted my ankle really bad leaving us exposed in the cold and darkness hours away from rescue... 

Overall... great hike, awesome seeing a volcano live in action and happy to have arrived home safely! Can't wait to be out of school though and hike up to the volcano again and take some better shots, they say it might be active for weeks to come... SWEET! :-)

© Me, my cousin and my brother, next to the volcano!

National Geographic has some awesome images from Icelandic photographer Christopher Lund! Check them out!

All Images are Copyrighted © Friðrik Páll Friðriksson