Backpacking Iceland 2003

The Story


The Short Story:
The summer of 2003, July 1st to July 29th, Jeff Israel (me) and John backpacked/orentered about 2/3 of Iceland's length, about 300 miles. We hiked off trail using only map and compass to find our way, and every night grabing a waypoint via GPS. We hiked over active volcanos, a peice of Europe's largest glacier, as well as the world's largest lava flow. Over our month long hike we crossed 5 degrees of longitude and 1/2 a degree of latitude. We hiked anywhere from 7 to 10 hours a day fording 3 or more major river crossing a day.

Believed to have been formed around the 13th century after a series of strong earthquakes, the area around Geyser is marked by hissing vents, hot and cold springs, and multi-colored sulfurous mud pits. The common word "geyser" has its origins in Iceland, taken from Storit-Geyser and applied to others around the world. Until it stopped erupting in 1916, Storti-Geysir, or Great Geyser, was among the most notable in the world. Its jet of superheated water and steam surged from an opening 18 meters across and a cavern 20 meters deep, reaching a peak of 60 to 80 meters.

Stohkur, meaning the Churn, is a geyser that still active. It erupts every ten minutes to a height of 20 to 30 meters. This is where Jeff and I started our trek after a short one hour ride from the capital, Reykjavik. We spent about an hour here, with Jeff taking pictures of the area while I watched with some amusement the expressions on faces as people stepped back as the geyser erupted. It was about 40 degrees out, windy and overcast. We started making our way toward Gullfoss, 15 km away.