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 > Rhodetrip's Saga, or TCing in Iceland

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rhode trip

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Posted: 09/22/09 07:57pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Its been a crazy year, and Lynn and I ended up with not enough time off for a real TC adventure this year, so the Rhodyroamer sat idle in the driveway. We scraped together 15 days, and headed off to Iceland. We flew out of Boston at 9:30 in the evening, and arrived at Keflavik airport at 6:30am the following day. In our typical fashion, we had no reservations except for a rental 4x4 Suzuki Jimny, and only the vaguest plans. We were met by the rental car rep at the airport..."Good News!", he said, "we've upgraded you to the Suzuki Grand Vitara" I looked it over...there was an obvious dent in the front fender, and alot of knicks and scratches.This is an upgrade? "I paid for the gravel protection insurance, but I think this car has seen a bit of gravel already" I said. "we're not real fussy about that!" he replied, and handed me the keys.
It was now about 7:15 am. We headed into the small town of Keflavik...big by Icelandic standards...there are only 300,000 people in the whole country. The first order of business was to find Campingaz propane/butane cylinders to fit my backpacking stove. I had searched the internet, and knew they could be found at a nearby campground...but it was too early in the morning, so we drove around the town...when what did I find? a Ford dually with a pop-up! my first Icelandic TC:
[image]
I was surprised by how many we would encounter over the next two weeks!
Once we got the propane, we headed north through Reykjavik...where 180,000 of those 300,000 live, and headed for the national park at Thingvellir. We found an interesting trail, so hiked a little to stretch our legs after the flight...it was an interesting first look at a new landscape:
[image]
[image]
Further along, we crested a ridge and got a view of a geothermal plant tapping the hot springs. The pipes go all the way back to Reykjavik to provide heat and hot water...they even run pipes under the city streets so they don't need to plow in the wintertime.
[image]
Beyond the plant is the shore of Thingvallavatn, Iceland's largest lake:
[image]
We followed the road around the lake to its northeastern end, where the park is located. Thingvellir is the national heart of Iceland, the meeting place of the first democratic assembly in the world, held for hundreds of years since the year 1000! People would travel from all parts of Iceland each summer to meet, to settle disputes, to trade, and to hear the "Lawspeaker" recite the laws of the land. Thingvellir also is along the meeting place of the North American continental plate, and the European continent. Here's a photo of the trail that winds between the two continents:
[image]
Each year, the plates grow a couple of millimeters apart.
Thingvellir has 3 campgrounds. We expected cool weather, but it was only about 50 degrees F, and the wind was howling. We looked for the most protected spot we could find, and set up our tent between the car and some low, scrubby brush. We settled in for the night to our down bags, zipped up tight. It was late July, and while the sun finally set, it stayed light enough to read in tent all night without a light.
The next morning we headed north into the mountains in search of a glacier...Geitlandsjokull. It was a stark, beautiful landscape with only a rudimentary road:
[image]
We crossed several dry washes that took careful, slow going to cross...especially in a rental car!:
[image]
The distances were deceiving, but we made steady progress through the desolate area:
[image]
Eventually, we couldn't drive any further, so we had to walk:
[image]
You can just make out the car in the distance. We put on our crampons and walked out onto the glacier:
[image]
We could hear the water running under us, and I carefully tested each footstep as I headed higher up the icefield:
[image]
We scampered around on the snow for a while, and pelted each other with snowballs, then turned back to the car.
As we returned towrds Thingvellir, we saw a high, thin waterfall in the distance, so we hiked across the desolate plain to get a closer look:
[image]
Again, it was farther than it looked. We're New Englanders, where the scale is close, and the horizon limited, and the wide open spaces here were a new experience for us. Finally, we climbed over the rocks and got a close-up view of the waterfall:
[image]
We would soon become jaded by the waterfalls of Iceland! We headed back to Thingvellir and checked the weather report. While the wind was still howling, and the temperature was still cold, the next few days were predicted to be relatively dry, with only passing showers. We decided the next day we would start towards Landmannalauger, in the highlands, for our backpacking trip through the interior.
...to be continued...

* This post was edited 09/24/09 06:43pm by rhode trip *


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Posted: 09/22/09 08:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We -all ( the group in Penn this weekend) were wondering what you two were doing this year!!! ----------impressive as always!!!


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Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

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Posted: 09/22/09 11:32pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That is cool. Waiting to see the continuation. Thanks for sharing.


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Posted: 09/23/09 03:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing, very interesting.


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Spott

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Posted: 09/23/09 05:09am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks like an adventure alright, enjoy and send photos.


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JoeChiOhki

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Posted: 09/23/09 06:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Now, if they just had a ferry there from Newfoundland, we'd be in business [emoticon]


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NRALIFR

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Posted: 09/23/09 06:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Those are really interesting pictures. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Almost 30 years ago, I was at the end of my enlistment in the Air Force, and had to make a decision about whether to re-enlist or get out. When I got within a a few months of my end date and still hadn't decided, the AF cut me some orders for my next assignment.

Guess where they were for?

Keflavic, Iceland......Two and a half years. If I remember correctly, it was an unaccompanied assignment. No family members allowed. And no re-enlistment bonus either, this was at the end of the Carter administration.

Not the best re-enlistment incentive, I thought at the time.

As much as your pictures confirm that Iceland would be a great place to visit, I'm not sorry I chose to get out.

[emoticon][emoticon]


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rhode trip

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Posted: 09/23/09 08:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

From Thingvellir we headed east and met route 37, which forms part of what they call "the golden circle", a popular tour route for visitors. You can take a day tour from Reykjavik. We came to the area of Geysir, where the word we know originated.
[image]

[image]

[image]
Interesting. The geysir erupts every 6 minutes. The actual geysir no longer goes off, after it was plugged by tourists throwing rocks into it to encourage an eruption. In typical laid back Icelandic style, they warn you not to go over and look down the hole. Duh!
We followed the good paved road here through green fields with a view of another glacier in the distance:
[image]
Not far along, you come to the famous falls at Gullfoss, meaning "golden falls"
[image]
[image]
[image]
[image]
You can see why they call this the golden circle...its pretty impressive.
From Gulfoss we headed south to the town of Hella, where we camped at a private campground called Arhus. From here, we'd be able to get a bus to Landmannalauger, and also one back from Thorsmork, the end point of our hike. It was a nice campground in Hella, on the banks of a lovely river, the Holsa. We watched a fisherman on the opposite bank Spey casting...a 14 foot flyrod handled with both arms, and eventually he landed a nice looking fish. I later found out that its considered one of the finest salmon rivers in Iceland. It was beautiful.
We found another TC in this campground:
[image]
We spent the evening packing our backpacks and checking our supplies for tommorrow's journey.

* This post was edited 09/24/09 06:45pm by rhode trip *

Harleybullet

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Posted: 09/24/09 07:58am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Jim Great pics... you should have brought your "big bumper" and saved on the gravel insurance....hehehe

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silversand

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Posted: 09/24/09 08:11am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

....it's not many who could hop on a flight at the last minute, and head off to Iceland for an impromptu expedition!

Kudos on your photos and expedition! Looking forward to more [emoticon]

Cheers,
Silver-


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