“You have a very nice walking route, but you must reconsider going close to the Vatnajokull. A volcano erupted last month and vaporized a part of the glacier, and the water cut a 50-foot canyon overnight. You will be trapped there.” Sound advice. The ranger’s perfect English was unsettling in the haunting, beautiful wasteland of central Iceland, but his advice was sound. Growing up in New England, one isn’t used to the ground shifting under their feet. When the Old Man in the Mountain crumbled to the ground, that was news. A volcano vaporizing a glacier? This is new.
Finding myself in Iceland for a family wedding, I thought it smart to extend my ticket and go for a short walk across the island. This was surprising easy: public buses run into the highlands a couple times a day, and handling the logistics for a two-week trip took barely an afternoon of walking around Reykjavik. Like New Zealand, this small island has nailed the tourism thing, with excellent infrastructure, a full spectrum of accommodation, good food, and incredible backcountry easily reachable by public transportation. I walked through the highlands, around the icecaps, and finished on the coast via the famous Laugavegur Route.
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