New Peaks and New Friends

02 Jul, 2019

Update by student Adam: After a night of excessive sunlight and little sleep, our group arose to a beautiful Icelandic morning. The birds were chirping, and the sun was already high in the sky, but we had a bus to catch. We rushed to pack up our tents for the first time, grabbed everything we needed from our duffel bags, and set off for the bus stop with only the backpacks on our backs (packed). The thing was we didn’t quite have time for breakfast.

Mountains, valleys, farmland, horses, sheep, and rivers flashed by in the bus windows as most of the group slept. Nicole says she may have slept the whole time. We were all very hungry when we groggily awoke, but the breakfast PB&Js were nowhere to be found. The bus soon stopped at a gas station, and Marcus made sure to buy a pastry for the road. Our hungry, sleepy bunch struggled to keep our eyes open long enough to enjoy the views outside the bus windows, but that all changed when we turned off the main road. The bus dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, and dodged its way through lava flows, between peaks, and even across streams!

We finally arrived at the campsite carsick, tired, and still hungry, but the surroundings made it all okay. Mind-blowing terrain was on all sides, including more different colors of rock than we had ever seen in one place before. After taking it all in, we set up camp, had a quick meal, and set off on our day hike.

It felt amazing to finally hit the trail, although we were sad to still be missing Nial and Addy. Addy’s flight had been cancelled and rescheduled a day later, and Nial experienced the very worst American Airlines could throw at him. Not only did he have to sleep at his gate due to a severely delayed flight, but his bag didn’t make it! Jack picked the two of them up at the airport, bought Nial some more supplies, and met us at the campsite by the time our hike was over.

Adam, Marcus, and Will led the way on the hike, which was remarkably steep. The trail went straight up a rocky mountain, uninhabited by trees, so we stopped to appreciate the view often. Elena, Maria, Naia, and Erica took tons of photos of the breathtaking views and scenic landscape, and we were happy to take nice pictures of anyone else who asked. It got windy and cold near the top, so we made sure to layer up to appreciate the view in comfort.

We took a different route down, passing by snow and streams, as Will from Carpe Mundo told us about the geothermal vents and glaciers all around us, which we will be exploring in the coming days. There was, however, one section that was quite steep, and many of us were worried about tumbling down. This led Deba to adopt a “send it” attitude, running down steep sections and catching herself on piles of rocks. Most of us scooted or crab-walked our way down, and Elena and Maria took the safest approach by staying on their feet and going nice and slow.

After a quick river crossing that left some of our feet wet, Will broke out the Pringles, a welcome treat. Refueled, we finished the hike rather quickly and finally met up with Nial and Addy! They felt like celebrities, as everyone knew their names before they even introduced themselves. We closed out our day with some fantastic pesto pasta, but we were especially happy to all be together

P.S. We’re starting our trek today (7/2) so blog posts may be a bit spotty. As always, no news is good news! — Jack & Sarah

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