Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 14: July 9, 2011

We awoke to a bright, sun-drenched day. "Finally!" Sho declared with a sense of good-weather entitlement. Vatnajokull Glacier was visible in the distance, taking up much of the western horizon. Hidden yesterday behind heavy clouds and rain, I had felt the cold wind swirling off the glacier's icy surface and sensed its overwhelming presence nearby. It was satisfying to finally stand before it in awe.

We slept last night in a country inn by the ocean, and as we shuffled down to breakfast, one of the staff came over to us with a serious look on her face. "Which direction are you headed?"

"East, toward Hofn," I answered.

"That's good. Katla became active over night, and part of the Ring Road near Vik was washed away."

"We were just in Vik a couple of days ago," Sho observed.

Katla is well-known by the people of Iceland, and I learned about it when researching our route. My guide book said, "Of all the volcanoes in Iceland, it will probably be Katla that causes the most trouble to Icelanders over the next few years. This highly active, 30km-long volcano, buried deep under the Myrdalsjokull Glacier, has erupted roughly twice per century in the past. Since the last eruption was in 1918, it's now several decades overdue. It's expected that when Katla does blow, days of poisonous ash fall, tephra clouds and lightening strikes will follow the initial explosion, with flash floods due to the sudden melting of glacial ice..."

In an earlier blog post, when we were cycling beside the Mydalsjokull Glacier, I described talking with a friendly farmer about the danger of nearby Katla erupting. She said with a smile that Katla was sleeping peacefully, but we both knew that recent volcanic activity in the area was likely to wake her up. I worried about the farmer and the charming oceanside town of Vik, where Sho had said he wanted to live.

So far, Katla has not erupted. There has only been a flood, apparently from increased magma flow within the volcano melting glacial ice. The road will likely be repaired in a few days, but I worry that Katla is telling us that she will soon erupt. Sho, Saya and I are well passed the danger zone and heading away from Katla, so don't worry about us!

We cycled around 66 km (40 miles) today, ending in the comfortable town of Hofn, which means "harbor" in Icelandic. The ocean and mountains surround us and are almost too beautiful to describe. The town boasts a large new thermal pool with several slides and hot tubs. Sho and Saya begged to spend an extra day here, and I happily agreed. My legs need a break!

Here are some pics:

We awoke to this view!

Sho and Saya frolicking:

Sho described this as "Iceland's smallest gas station":

Pics from the road:

We met , a runner from the Czech Republic. He is part of a relay run for peace that organizes runs through countries all over the world - very cool. See

These are the kinds of gorgeous scenes you come across when cycling through Iceland...

Saya's "bike trailer hair":

- An Iceland Bike Adventure post

1 comment:

  1. I hope the volcano does not erupt any time soon...
    I'm getting ready, making a list of things to pack and Saya's hair brush is now on the top of the list!