For anyone who’s thinking of walking across Iceland I’ll be documenting my preparation and, later, my travels here in hopes of making your researching that little bit easier.
Right off the bat here are a few tips that seem to become pretty clear as soon as you start reading up on the land:
– Stay off the glaciers. If you’re with at least one other person, have some experience, brought crampons, (ideally) brought an ice pick, and have a burning desire to walk across a glacier, than have at ‘er. Otherwise don’t be stubborn, just go around. Depending on when you go you might get lucky and have enough surface snow to clomp your way through, but once that snow melts it’s just ice underneath. You don’t want to find yourself on a glacial slip ‘n slide or inside a glacier sandwich. The risk is almost never worth it.
-Assuming you went around and find yourself at the opening of the outflow river, move downstream a ways before attempting to cross. The water of glacier-fed rivers in general is extremely silty and the depth hard to gauge. This is worse right near the glacier where the water-saturated gravelly soil is disrupted, forming something very akin to quicksand. Being rash never pays off. You went to Iceland to walk, so walk away from the pretty glacier.
– Fording glacier-fed rivers is scary and dangerous. Particularly if you’re travelling east-west/vice verse though it’s something you’re pretty much inevitably going to have to do. Use your poles first to test the depth and the firmness of the ground, and then keep using them for stability as you cross. Be cautious and careful. (Also, prepare for it to be insanely cold. It’s a glacier-fed river, duh).
– Don’t drink downstream of sheep or near the huts. Common sense. There’s water everywhere, you might as well pick a good clean source. I’m pretty much always going to purify my water anyway, just to be safe.
-Bring gaiters. They might not do much for the wet, but having to stop every hour to dump salt and volcanic ash out of your shoes is no fun.