For my final ride in Iceland I wanted to get as close as I could to a large glacier in the west of the country.
Snæfellsnes is a picturesque peninsula in the west of the country. “Snæfells” (pronounced “SNIGH fettles”) literally means “Snow mountain”.
Liz and I spent a day wandering around this amazing place, simply soaking up the views.
This mountainous finger of land boasts a variety of terrain. It’s like a summary of the entire country in one small section. There are waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, …
…even volcanic cones…
We hiked around a small volcanic cone called Rauðhöll (“Red Hill”).
A few kilometers down the road we encountered a narrow canyon in a cliff, with icy water gushing from it.
A hundred metres above us, flocks of birds swirled in the mist. This place was stunning.
So I decided to come back a couple of hours later to explore it on the bike. I started near the small town of Ólafsvík and headed upwards.
Snæfellsjökull is a strato-volcano, capped with a large glacier. I wanted to see how close I could get on the bike.
This involved a steep climb on a rough dirt road.
A bunch of Icelandic horses looked indifferently at this crazy tourist as I pedaled past their paddock.
It was hard work. A cold strong wind buffeted me from the side.
Clouds swirled behind some of the hills. I couldn’t see the actual mountain. It was too high, and the clouds were too thick. I wasn’t sure how far I’d get, but like my other rides in Iceland, this was more about the journey than the destination.
Melting snow fed a small stream which cascaded beside the road as I climbed.
Riding solo is frustrating, so I was excited to meet a couple of hikers coming down the hill.
David and Barbara were visiting from the USA.
They warned me the road was closed a few kilometres ahead.
“Great!” I replied. I looked forward to checking out what it took to close a mountain road in this part of the world.
Barbara offered to take a few photos of me. I was rugged up, but I felt cold.
After riding a for few more minutes, I decided to have a rest in a ditch, out of the wind. I munched on a chocolate bar, then put on a puffer jacket.
I had never worn so many layers while riding. But despite the hard work, I wasn’t sweating.
I stood on a ridge and looked both ways. This place was spectacular. I felt overwhelmed with its beauty.
And then I came to the road closure. Huge snow drifts covered the road. There was no way I could go any further on my skinny tyres.
I saw the irony in the situation. The road had come to an end, and so had my time in Iceland.
I felt grateful and sad at the same time. A year ago I wouldn’t have even imagined that I’d have the chance to visit such an amazing place. The time had flown. I didn’t want to go.
But new countries, new places lay ahead.
Sometimes travel is a series of happy “hello’s” followed by sad “good bye’s”. You can’t have one without the other.
Max elevation: 234 m
Min elevation: 163 m
Total climbing: 249 m
Total descent: -252 m
Average speed: 4.40 km/h
Total time: 00:51:05
Our hike around the volcanic cone took less than an hour to cover just under 3km. We climbed about 150m. I’ll rate it 6 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Max elevation: 149 m
Min elevation: 60 m
Total climbing: 148 m
Total descent: -150 m
Average speed: 4.52 km/h
Total time: 00:31:00
Our hike to the canyon took about an hour to cover 1.5km. It involved a bit of rock-hopping. It rates about 5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Max elevation: 459 m
Min elevation: 16 m
Total climbing: 669 m
Total descent: -359 m
Average speed: 13.46 km/h
Total time: 02:17:18
My attempted ride to the glacier covered 13km in about two and a half hours. During that time I climbed about 500 metres. I’ll rate it 7.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Iceland is beautiful. If you’re looking for an unusual place to have an adventure, just go. You won’t regret it.