Of all the things we planned to do in Iceland, I was most looking forward to our trip to the South Coast to hike some waterfalls and a glacier. The glacier hike was by far the thing I was most excited about because I imagined there wouldn’t be many opportunities for me to do that again.
Given that the South Coast was a bit of a drive from the city of Reykjavik, Meghan and I woke up on the earlier side Thursday morning to grab some hotel breakfast and hop the shuttle that would take us on the days adventures.
Our first stop was to Seljalandsfoss, a long and skinny waterfall that we had the opportunity to hike behind. It was a pretty windy day on Thursday, and when we got near the waterfall, we were pretty much immediately blasted with spray from the water.
Everything I’d read about this waterfall advised me to wear waterproof clothing for this hike, and I’m really glad my mom let me borrow her waterproof pants for this trip. I pulled them on over my running tights and hiking boots, and they spared me from coming out of the hike drenched like some of the other folks in our little group.
I’m not sure how evident it is from the pictures, but being behind the waterfall was so cool. It felt like we were in a bit of a cave and there was just water pounding down all around us. There’s a video of it in the Snapchat story at the end of this post that’s definitely worth checking out.
After we finished the hike, we made our way to the next waterfall on our tour, Skogafoss. This is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, and it’s formed where water tumbles off the cliffs that used to be the former coastline of Iceland.
There are a set of steps near this waterfall where you can climb to the top and look down on the falls. By this point, the gentle breeze from earlier in the day had picked up and by the time we made it to the top of the climb, I was a little terrified to pull out my phone for fear the wind would rip it out of my hands, and it would go tumbling into the falls.
I kept a death grip on it and came away with some meh pictures.
Even though it was pretty windy, it was still a clear day out, and just down the road from Skogafoss, we had some stunning views of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull. We could see all the way to the crater at the top of the volcano and see the ice cap covering the top. The pictures don’t quite do it justice.
If you remember back in 2010 when a volcano eruption in Iceland disrupted all the air traffic in Europe because of the blowing ash…yea that was this volcano.
I’m glad the weather cooperated so we could see the top of the volcano because that was pretty cool. But unfortunately not long after the weather took a turn for the awful, and we got stuck in a hail storm with winds somewhere around 56 mph (as estimated by our glacier hiking guide).
We stopped at the black sand beaches and saw monstrous waves crashing along the shore. The winds were so strong that I felt like I was literally being pushed out further onto the sand.
It was hard to even enjoy the incredible basalt columns along the shore with the wind and the hail whipping around and making everything freezing cold.
I tried to snap some pictures of the basalt columns out in the sea, but the pictures aren’t great because the visibility was pretty crappy with all the clouds.
Because of the freak storm, the glacier hike part of our trip was called off. Our hiking guide said there was no way he could safely take us out on the glacier with winds like this. It would be too easy to get caught in a white out and get lost.
I was so bummed since the glacier hike was the thing I was looking forward to the most on the whole trip, but I would not have wanted to be on a hike in that sort of weather.
We did take about a mile walk in the insane 56 mph winds to get to the base of the glacier just so we could see it.
We were literally bent over 90 degrees from the waist trying to push our way forward in the wind out to the glacier. There were times the wind gusted so hard, I couldn’t breath and I had to turn around and put my back to the wind so I could get a breathe. There were other times the wind was so strong it would push me a couple of steps backward or throw me into the person walking next to me. I’ve never experienced wind like that.
I will say, as miserable as that walk was, and as much as my face hurt from getting pelted with pieces of hail, I’m glad we made it. Being able to see the glacier was at least a cool experience, even though we didn’t get to hike it. And I guess seeing weather turn that quickly is a very “Iceland” experience.
Again, my pictures don’t really do it justice because I was so cold and was trying to snap a few pictures, and then my phone battery died because of the cold. But if you watch the Snapchat story below with the volume on, there’s a clip at the glacier where you can hear the wind wailing and you can see my phone being shaken all about while I’m trying to hold it steady.
After being out in that weather for a little bit, I was pretty happy to pile back into our little van for the drive back to the city.
As soon as Meghan and I changed out of our wet clothes at the hotel, we set off to find some dinner that would warm us up, and found a place serving some delicious lamb soup in bread bowls. It definitely hit the spot after our adventures day in Iceland.
Thursday FitBit steps: 16,293 Miles: 6.89