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Published: June 11th 2017
Day 4. Time is flying and yet we also agree that if we wrapped up the trip now we'd be fulfilled. Today was special even by Iceland standards. They call this place the land of fire and ice. Don't know about the fire part - no active volcanoes at the moment thank god - but we got to experience the ice part first hand today.
Started out with an amphibian boat (aka frog boat) on the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Icebergs calve off the main Vatnajökull glacier (the largest glacier in Europe) at an increasingly alarming rate and float into this Lagoon that didn't exist 80 years ago. The good folks of Iceland live the impacts of global warming every day. It makes for amazing pictures as white and blue icebergs laced with dark stripes of volcanic ash bob in the Lagoon as they wait their turn to float out to the ocean and melt into nothingness. The icebergs look like an inventive flavor of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Nothing beats a double scoop of "Gobs of Global Warming Goodness" on a hot day. But I digress. After the lagoon we went to the beach where the icebergs meet the
sea to see beautiful iceberg carcasses. Amazing to inspect 1000 year old ice. On the way, Indy was attached by a momma bird protecting her nest. Good solid peck on the head. Poor kid.
Learned that the criteria to become a glacier is for snow to not melt for a year and have new slow accumulate on top. Over time, layer upon layer of snow compacts from its own weight pushing out most air bubbles and turning to pure ice. Pure ice, void of oxygen and other contaminants, absorbs every color except blue giving it that pure blue hue. Unfortunately, once the sun hits it, it melts and expands letting in oxygen again which turns it back to the familiar white color. Another interesting fact (at least two me) is that it takes 12 meters of snow to create 1 cm of glacier ice. The Vatnajökull glacier is 1100 meters at its thickest depth. I'm no mathematician, but some quick number crunching reveals that it would take over 4.3 million feet of snow to create that much glacial ice. By comparison, Idyllwild averages just over 2 ft of snow annually. Puts things in perspective.
Back to the adventure... part two of our day was spent driving in a massive Super Jeep with 11 other people up a steep and windy dirt road and on to the top of the glacier. We drove on the Vatnajökull glacier for an hour each way in waist high snow to reach one of the summits. Unworldly! The drive was harrowing at times, but we stopped along the way for pictures and snowball fights to mix it up. Indy of course slept the whole way, but he got to see it all coming down. At the summit, a few of us ascended the summit peak to get an amazing view of the valley of snow and ice below us. This is where they filmed Game of Thrones, Secret Life of Walter Smitty and Batman Returns. But even a gaggle of A-list celebrities pales in comparison to this place. Below are a sampling of the gazillion pics we took.
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