It is a memorable expereince to walk across the Solheimajokull Glacier in South East of Iceland. Situated close to Eyjafjallajokull the volcano which erupted several years ago, the glacier is made up of layers of ice and ash. Solheimjokull is just a small part of a bigger glacier the Myrdalsjokull. This forms an ice cap over another volcano, the mighty Katla. If this erupts we all need to worry!
However for now the landscape is quiet. Evidence of the retreating ice is apparent on your approach to the start of the walk. The valley is covered with ash, pumice, sand and stone, giving a muted colour to the whole terrain. However green mosses creep over the ground providing a fabulous contrast to the greys. Here and there grasses begin to emerge trying to get a foot hold in a harsh enviroment. The glacier has retreated about a kilometer in the last decade. It is about 250 metres thick rising to 700 meters at the top. Our guide informed us that winter snowfalls have reduced and aproximately two metres has melted from the top since March.
As you approach the glacier these glorious colours are combined with the blues and white of the ice sheet. It is a feast for the eyes. The marks created by layers of ash and snow appear like a huge art installation - drawing on a large scale. I recall all those mark making exercises from college years ago. The ice is full of ridges, amazing scarry sinkholes, and rivers which cut across the ice.
Black lines, etched across large areas, contrast with crystal clear blue holes. The blue is created where the ice is more compact and dense.
It would be difficult to retrace your footsteps. What we see and experince today will be different tomorrow. This is a dynamic and constantly changing landscape - to walk on a glacier is a unforgettable unique experience.
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