While relaxing in a hot tub, I met a local guide who has been leading hikes on Vatnajokull Glacier since 1994. He lives in the eastern part of Iceland, where he said there are a total of 60 people along a 100km stretch. Some of his neighbors think there is no future in the area, because farming is on the wane and there are so few economic opportunities. Many have encouraged their children, when they grow up, to move to Reykjavik or outside Iceland. But the guide figured out a way to make a living showing tourists his magnificent country, while giving his three boys (ages 11, 13 and 20) a connection to the natural world and regular vigorous exercise. I loved his confidence to create a healthy and meaningful path in life.
He told me that the glacier has receded steadily since he began hiking on it in the 1990's, but the most dramatic change has been in its thickness. The edges of the glacier are not only retreating, but being hollowed out by increasing water flow beneath. The recent eruptions in the area added layers of ash that accelerated the melting (because more sunlight is absorbed by the dark surface).
Later in the day, I bought supplies for tomorrow's ride. We will ride from Hofn toward Djupivogur, but I doubt we'll cover the 100+ km in one day. It looks like there may not be any place to get food for much of the ride, so we'll carry three meals with us.
We had Skype calls with my wife Eiko and my mother (the kids call her Nona and renamed Iceland's ubiquitous purple lupins "Nona flowers"). We are all looking forward to having Eiko join the ride later this month. Her niece Arisa is also going to ride with us for a couple of weeks. It will be great to have them along!
Pics from our visit to Hofn's pool:
- An Iceland Bike Adventure post