We started out with brunch at Laundromat - I'm really getting into that place, and then drove about an hour up north to Langjökull Glacier. You can join organised tours like Reykjavik Excursions for different excursions as getting their without your own car would prove difficult. The landscape heading out of Reykjavik was very different than I've seen in Winter or Spring months and seeing so much green was, to me, not quite as dramatic as the arctic scenes of white fields where the horizon blends with the light blue glowing skies. About 40 minutes into the drive, through Þingvellir National Park and its crumbling lava fields (save some time so you can check this out), we climbed higher into the mountains and towards the Langjökull Glacier. The roads were no longer tarmac, we drove up the winding reddish brown rocky road towards the Mountaineers Iceland cabin where we met the rest of our group.
As this was a surprise, I hadn't planned a very glacier-ready outfit but you could wear anything outdoors appropriate really. I had on trainers, leggings, a thermal base layer and a fleece. In the cabin we were suited up in a cozy onesie (I think I might need to invest), some over-shoes to wear over your shoes to give you grip and keep you dry, a fleece balaclava, helmet and gloves (my boyfriend took a spare pair and I put them on at the first stop, I'm glad I did). I took my camera and wore it round my neck, zipped inside my onesie.
An exciting weekend indeed, on Saturday my boyfriend surprised me with a snow mobile trip. Something I've wanted to do since the first time I spotted a group jetting off up a snowy mountain and whizzing around - it just looked so much fun, and it was.
There was 8 of us in our group. Once we were all dressed we got onto the old arm truck now converted into a pretty comfy bus for the remaining ten minute drive to the glacier, over terrain which looks like a scene from outer-space. We filed off the bus and met our instructor who gave us a short safety demonstration and lesson in steering, which I still didn't really grasp, and then allocated our snow mobile. I was first to follow the instructor and we were each to follow 10m behind the next. A light squeeze of my thumb on the gas and I was off. I'll admit it was pretty scary at first but once you get the hang of it you will find yourself standing up and flying along in the snow. I just loved it. It was pretty cold though, snow in the face, but the second pair of gloves helped and I found standing was easier, especially for steering. We stopped a few times for a photo opportunity and a little breather, and the ensure everyone was still in one piece.
The glacier is a very strange place to be, about 10 minutes into the trip you suddenly realise that you can't make out the horizon and wouldn't have a clue which way back down is. It's quite surreal - thank goodness for a great instructor and GPS!!
Being in a group means it's pretty easy, you just follow the person in front of you - when they turn, you prepare to turn. About half way through the trip we came across a pretty large crack in the ice, driving along following the person in front means that if they increase speed and jump it then so should you. Easy, ha. It wasn't that bad actually but I think my rather girly scream helped. I gained confidence and was soon racing down the hill back to basecamp.