Iceland: Day 2 Skaftafell: Glaciers And Lost Men

Saturday.4th. June.2011

Today the team got together. Here, I present them to you:

Laces Metcalfe

Tom Volume

(Andy’s pic, not mine)

Hebrew Smurf

(Andy’s pic, not mine.)


The Ogress

(Andy’s pic, not mine)

The Most Northerly Spaniard in the world/Jorge the Pessimist

(Andy’s pic, not mine.)

Dora the Croatian Explorer

Early morning start and straight into a taxi (unusual for both Tom and I, the taxi, not the early morning) to the bus station, where we met up with the rest of Trail Team A: Laura (The Ogress), Moran (Hebrew Smurf), Andy (Smelly) and Jorge (The Most Northerly Spaniard in the world). Dora (Dora the Croatian Explorer) was hitchhiking to Skaftafell, our home for the first ten days. Had a better-than-nothing cup of tea and started the uber expensive bus ride to the training grounds. Along the way, I found out Moran was Israeli, Jorge a Spaniard living in Iceland and Andy turned out to be from the Midlands. Laura, the lovely lady we’d met the night before was from good ol’ Yorkshire. It’s a shame I was so knackered during the bus ride. I missed a lot of the knock out views. Whenever I did open my eyes though, there was something spectacular to see. Mind blowing mountains or weird rock formations that looked like massive sand worms that had been turned to stone in the sun. The country I was looking at seemed so old. It’s hard to believe how young it actually is.

We arrived at Skaftafell several or so hours later, and one of the first things we found out about the place was that the snowy mountains that dominated the sky line, was where a part of Batman Begins was filmed. Instead of Tibet they decided to film in Iceland.

Oh, and there was a black glacier, Skaftafellsjökul .

The glacier was covered in ash from the Grimsvotn volcano eruption that had happened a week or so before. (The team that was in Skaftafell at the time, had to be evacuated and sent to another location.) Skaftafell was still hazy with ash, and when I moved, small ash clouds poofed up from my feet. We were told to be careful with our tents, as we set them up, as ash could get in the zips and fuck them up. I soon found out that ash can get anywhere it wants to, not matter how hard you try and stop it. It’s incredible that people actually pay a small fortune for small containers of the stuff to take home. The Hut, which was to be our base for the next ten days, had, only hours previously, been coated in ash. Our team leaders Karmel (A lovely, bubbly pixie from Dudley) and Roger (a 67 year old fell runner from with eyes as blue as a glacial pool) had been on a cleaning mission. It was a cosy place, with a basic kitchen, a larder, a large table and a bookshelf heaving with tomes in all languages. We were camping, but the hut was to be our place for cooking, meals, meetings and hanging out in. After setting up our tents, we ventured to the glacier, stumbling our way across ankle biting stones to reach the rim. We stood on the edge, but didn’t venture further out. Two German police officers went walking without a guide not so long ago. They were never seen again, and back in 1953 two students went missing. Only recently has the glacier given them back. Some of their things are on display in the Scaftafell Visitors Centre, as a stark warning more than anything I think.

(Not my pic.)

I tasted Skyr for the first time. It’s basically a very soft cheese. (We used to eat something similar for dessert called cream cheese.) The Vikings used to eat it, but I don’t think they had strawberry flavour back then. It’s delicious, filling and low in fat and calories. I think my favourite is skyr með vanillu. We went to sleep when it was still light, and the birds were still singing.