In August 2001 I took part in the Iceland Ice-cap Trek to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Relief. It was a real endurance test. Survival seemed to be more of a challenge than the trekking. We had the worst rain that Iceland had had for 40 years. Bridges to the east of the island were washed away by the floods. We camped, walked, and ate in the rain. I didn't really ever dry out all week. It was a bit grim.
But on the postive side the company was great. There were 55 other trekkers, 5 leaders respresenting Macmillan and Discover Adventures, 3 Icelandic guides, and 5 Icelandic support team to keep us fed.
On Tuesday we had to be "rescued" and taken by vehicles to a hostel as it was thought unwise to continue the trek to our next camp. Because the interior of the island is so remote and the terrain so adverse we had an exciting journey over lava fields that took all day. One of the vehicles got stuck crossing a river so we had to go a very long way round. Eventually got to the hostel at 1 a.m.!
After one night under a roof it was back to the tents. Some of the highlights of the week were walking part way up Mt Hekla on rock just 18 months old to a vent where steam was still coming up (it last erupted in 2000 with just 30 minutes warning!), finding the wreckage of a WW2 bomber on a glacier, wading knee deep though raging torrents of glacial streams in just sandals (I know now what it is to have cold feet) and bathing in hot geothermal streams. All exhilarating experiences which counteracted the grimness of the conditions we were enduring.
Our guides were members of the mountain rescue team and I should have realised that the optional climb across a ridge that was an "adrenaline rush" for them would be somewhat more for me. I took my life to the edge, in more ways than one, but I returned glad to be alive. The mountains and the geology of Iceland are awesome.
Many of the others on the trek had personal experiences of cancer, either themselves or through the death of partners. There were some very courageous people with me. The money that I have raised for Macmillan Cancer Relief, in excess of £5,000, will I know be used to good effect. I thank all who sponsored me.
Follow the link to see some photos. Not as many as there should be as I had a disaster with my new digital camera, managing to erase a whole disc of 60 photos by pressing the wrong button while sitting in my cold, wet, dark tent. I was incandescent with anger which temporarily warmed me up, but I lost some lovely pictures. I had even got up at 5.30 that morning too to photo the sunrise over the glacier!
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