Globe Travel Guide
Globe Travel Guide
© David Williams
- and great skuas
24 July 1981
the enormous ice cap near the south coast, has many valley glaciers which
are tongues of ice slowly travelling downhill towards the
sea. One of the biggest is Skeiðarárjökull
glacier and it has a huge snout many kilometres across. The glaciers carry
enormous amounts of dark basalt gravel and dust within them and this material
is dumped when the ice melts. Since Skeiðarárjökull is
receding it has left a huge gravel plain in front of it called a sandur.
This is the story of the author`s first visit to Skeiðarárjökull - and how a great skua attacked him as he walked across the glacial sands.
I awoke early as the hot sun beating down on the tent made it too hot to rest any longer. The sun was already high in the sky and it was time to move on. I bade farewell to the lavafields that Laki had produced two hundred years previously and headed eastwards, towards the vast sandy wasteland of Skeiðarársandur that lay between the Skeiðarárjökull glacier and the sea.
The road surface was as bad as ever. If only I had fixed the Beetle`s suspension in Reykjavík then I wouldn`t have had to endure the thumps that shuddered through the car every time I hit a pothole.
After crossing the first section of the black sands, the glaciers came into view. I had to stop and pinch myself - was this real? Blue sky, white clouds, black sand and white glaciers - and all the shapes and colours reflected in the moss-fringed pools of water dotted across the landscape. The cameras were kept busy - I was anxious not to miss the moment.
Time to explore. I left the car beside a long wooden bridge that spanned the braided glacial rivers and walked across the sandur towards the glacier. To left and right were kettle holes, deep circular depressions ten to twenty metres across; these marked the last resting places of icebergs which had been stranded and had slowly melted.
I noticed a little wooden hut on the bare sand and peeked in. It was presumably an observation post used by scientists.