Home to some of the most awe inspiring landscapes on earth, from fiery volcanoes to colossal waterfalls; Iceland is the natural Earth at its most incredible. I went trekking across some of Iceland’s glaciers, volcanoes and peaks; an experience I would recommend to anybody seeking the thrill of adventure.
The trek begins!
On the morning of the first day my parents, my two brothers and I heaved on our enormous backpacks and embarked on the steep trek up the mountain. We traversed along the edge of a steep gorge where a deluge of water gushed. One wrong foot and I would be fish food.
On the first night we stayed at the edge of Eyjafjallajokull (the volcano that erupted back in 2010), whose name I will not even attempt to pronounce! Here there was no running water and melting snow from the glacier over a stove was the only way to quench our thirst. And no, there was no wifi; much to my brother’s dismay it was a tad out of range for 3G! Although it sounds rather primitive, after a long day’s hike it felt like a palace!
Unfortunately, as the saying goes, ‘There ain’t no rest for the wicked’, and it was up and out by 6am the next morning. Slowly and painfully I forced my swollen feet back into my boots ready for the next phase of the trek.
So far my account sounds like something from ‘The Sound of Music’, except the Von Trap family were escaping the Nazi’s, where as this was our summer holiday…
However, the astounding scenery was ample reward for all my cramps, blisters, chills and burns. The sunlight rising over the snowy peaks as we trudged on at 5am. The glistening greens of the valleys, stretching as far as the eye could see and the stars sparkling in the clear night sky. Even the stench of the sulphurous fumes emanating from the Solphataras could not diminish the beauty of my surroundings.
There are few places on earth where you can experience true emersion in nature; where no rev of car engines nor street lamps intrude into the tranquil panorama. With not a soul for miles around it was an opportunity to reflect on life, eschewing the trivial worries and realising what is truly important.
Of course there were moments of agitation and outbursts of anger, not least when we found ourselves lost and unable to recover the route for several hours. Me blaming Dad, my brothers squabbling and Mum attempting to keep us all calm. Yet somehow we kept going, taking it in turns to tell jokes or stories. Although like any family we have our dysfunctional moments, there is nobody else I could have wished to be lost in the middle of nowhere with.
The only route across many of the rivers was removing our shoes, slinging them over our shoulders and wading through the torrent of water. I was – to put it mildly- not the biggest fan of the ice cold waters. With my backpack perched precariously on my shoulders, the thought of falling filled me with horror. Yet, the moment I reached the other side, all the fear and exasperation was replaced by the exhilaration of achievement.
The finishing line!
After five days walking, words cannot describe the euphoria of reaching the finish. Although the hours we spent lost meant we had missed our transport back home (leaving hitch hiking as our only remaining option) the relief of finally removing my sweaty boots eclipsed any frustration.