Our next planned stop after leaving Landmannalaugar is the well-known Skaftafell National Park at the southern edge of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap. Skaftafell is a crowded place, with well over 100 tents on the campsite, but the walk up to Kristanarstindar mountain is one we do not want to miss. Unfortunately, the next morning brings more drizzle and very low clouds, and the weather forecast does not look good either. After a short stroll towards the Svartifoss waterfall we decide to travel further east towards Heinabergsjokull, another glacier coming down from the ice sheet.
Although it is located only a few kilometers from the ring road around the island, this is not a well-known spot and we will encounter just 2 other people during the next four days. After another miserable rainy day, which we spend in our tent near the proglacial lake, the weather finally improves and we hike up the Heinabergsdalur valley up to the pass seperating it from Vatnsdalur.
The views up the Heinabergsjökull glacier towards the ice sheet from our bivouac spot on the pass are jaw-dropping. We climb the Geitakinn mountain (725m) in the evening, and while Elien enjoys our first real warm day of the trip near the Trailstar, I hike up the Meingilstindur north of the pass and track a sweet ridge nearly all the way to Meingilsbotn (1299m) the next morning.
The Heinabergsjökull glacier has retreated at amazing speed throughout the last 150 years, with some major jökulhlaupt events. You can read more about it below.