Hiemaey Island

Heimaey island – the day started out fairly early and we found the hotel very nice. There was a bakery a hop away from the hotel and we strolled up for a beautiful breakfast. The plan was to have breakfast, visit the harbor to see about the boat tours then hike the ruins that had been covered by the volcano then do the 11am boat tour and after that climb up the volcano. The weather was foggy and raining and there didn’t seem to be anyone else wanting to go other than the five of us. They told us to come later and maybe the afternoon boat would go out…Linda C stayed around town and wanted to find out about the little church and some other items while we went out.

We hiked up some short green steps to the lava field and wandered around the big cracks seeing these posts with names on them and stones with plaques – these were where people’s home were. There were lots of trails leading us to the excavated portions where it was possible to see the second floor tops – the roofs had either collapsed or burnt off – and people had excavated some of the area to the point where on one of the houses it was possible for the owner to enter and check out some of their former belongings. We then thought that if weren’t able to go on the boat at 11 we should hike to the top of the volcano. We found a nice trail that lead away from the people (all 3 or 4 of them) and we took that at the base and it seemed as though it might take us to the top the long way around. As we traveled this route we found about three quarters of the way up were fences that were set up vertically and had no purpose that we could think of. Jim suggested that they went up with the volcano as it rose and had survived the heat. The area had been flat enough to farm and these were old farm fences. By the time we were on the ocean side of the island the fog was light and the drizzle was on and off – there were lava fields mixed with the risen fields and the volcano’s cone. We walked the trail, it turned to a track with loose rocks that became similar to walking on pea gravel and difficult. Along the way we saw a lava tube with a tunnel that we considered exploring but thought maybe later. Linda Y decided to turn around, Jim and Tammie decided to continue around. I thought it best to walk back with Linda.

When we met up with the old trail we thought we had enough time to go around and maybe meet up with Tammie and Jim on the other side. It was a wide road leading up to a parking lot so it was easy climbing. From the parking lot we climbed to a first cone and I ran to a second small cone to the left to see if I could see Jim and Tammie on the other side of this cone. When I returned to Linda Y, I thought I saw them near the top of the big volcano so we decided to climb up. The weather was getting a little worse with wind and fog. We started to climb up the loose pea gravel like lava made it a challenging climb.  The track became narrow with drop offs to one side. Once we reached a certain point, the rim of the cone on the low side, it became windier and the fog was worse. I had seen the people that looked like Jim and Tammie – and not them – heading down. Linda Y decided that she didn’t need to go farther up, I did, and she rested while I climbed the rest of the way, just in case I might be able to see them from the main peak of the crater. There was a portion of the rim that was about 4 feet wide and drop of on both sides with wind – I continued to the point where I could see the lava fields below and the lava tube that we had thought about when we were below but no Jim and Tammie. I returned and the fog had increased and it was getting to be close to the time we had to go and check in with the boat. Linda and I started down, with little slides along the way. I saw a more direct route to the town and we headed straight toward the town, past the garbage dump, through the lava field and back down the little stairs. We found our hotel, Linda C was having coffee and she came out to meet us and we told her our plan. She was game. Linda and I went up, rested for a few minutes and I stepped out on the balcony to see Jim and Tammie going into the shop by the gas station where one could buy the fantastic Icelandic hot dogs. I went in and told the Lindas – we went out to join them, we all had hot dogs and I bought some candy…hmmm…then we went out to the boat. They were going to go out, the light fog and the drizzle didn’t bother them. They had these fabulous suites that we had to wear – they would act like wet suites if anyone managed to fall into the ocean – ha ha – they were very warm! The boat was as pictured, much like a roller coaster ride – we had a cushioned seat that we had to straddle and things to hold on to. It was a V-bottomed Zodiac type boat. We went out, along with 3 others on this ride around the home island to look at caves and sites. The cliffs were tremendous; the caves were amazing with such varied geology. We had a knowledgeable tour guide who was also funny and hardy. There was lots to see, including, these ropes on the cliffs so that people could climb up to the grassy part apparently for getting eggs or in the old days hunting puffins. There were even sheep in places that sheep could not get to and we found out that they would put them in nets and haul them up. There was fun folklore about some of the points of interest that unfortunately cannot remember. The weather started to turn rough and I saw the guide wave to the drive that we should return. The ride back was very exciting. Big waves, I would guess 1-2 meters and the reason for the grips quickly became apparent. That part was a lot of fun including the short time where the rain was coming down sideways biting into our faces.  A great time and I would recommend this trip to anyone who travels to Hiemaey. We thought after this we should rest a few minutes then we’d go out and Linda C would show us the little church and what she’d found.

We walked to the small church, which was just beside the maternity museum and an old fort. At the end of the pier we were able to see one of the glaciers on the mainland as well – just an amazing view that photos could not do justice.

Jim and Tammie wanted to climb the volcano – the Linda’s did not – we agreed to meet for dinner and go to a place that the tour boat people had recommended.

The three of us climbed the volcano – me for the second time – but this time the weather was much clearer and I could see down the side of the cone. This climb was a little harder than the first – I was starting to rethink the marathon, maybe downgrade to a half – it was beautiful with the views. At the top, Jim dug down in a small depression and found real heat, almost enough to boil water. I took some photos and we looked at the time – it was getting late and we needed to get down quickly to meet up with the Lindas. As we were going down I suggested that it would be really cool to go straight down the side of the cone. I figured that this was a natural slope and it could not get steeper and the loose lava was sturdy enough to hold us without too much give. OK then! Away we go! That was a lot of fun; a little sliding a few rocks in the shoes, but all three of us made it down quickly (I think 18 minutes for a 45 min climb) and walked straight past the ruins to the hotel – along the way, finding the restaurant where we wanted to eat. We finally made it and changed for dinner.

The 99 Grill is what I think it was called, they didn’t have room, so we told them we’d be back in 20 min (as suggested) and went to look at another house that had most of it crushed under lava and ash. When we returned the put some tables together and were able to accommodate us. The food was better than the last place as was the atmosphere and we had a lovely dinner – it had become late, and we all returned to the hotel

I will load this up with photos when I get home, but if you are really interested in them. I am uploading them as I can at the hotel lobby. These are raw and unedited!!! You can find them at:

http://pierregy.smugmug.com/Travel/2011-Iceland-and-Heimaey

I will upload more tomorrow

Cheers,

Pierre

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