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Snæfellsnes

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, …

…rugged cliffs…

…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.

Total distance: 2.98 km
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
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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.

Total distance: 1.56 km
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
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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.

Total distance: 13.36 km
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
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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.

 

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