Sunday, June 23, 2013

Into the Clouds (Akureyri, Iceland)

On June 22nd we ported in Akureyri, Iceland.  Although I have heard good things about Iceland, I was not sure what to expect.  After spending a day in Akureyri, however, I can now say that I am thrilled with what Iceland has to offer!  This place is AWESOME! 

With that said, I was a little frustrated with the start of the day.  Having done a bit of research, I knew that there were mountains that you could hike.  Unfortunately, all of the maps and hiking descriptions that I found were not all that helpful to someone who was unfamiliar with the area.  Hence, I spent the first little while running around trying to figure out which direction to go.  There were some mountains within sight but they weren't super close.  Eventually I decided to just start running up.  Usually this method works quite well.

Eventually I came across a path that followed a river.  I figured I could probably follow the river up to higher ground.  Fortunately my method worked.  As I headed upwards I found a sign for a ski resort and decided to head in that direction.  Ski resorts are in mountains, and that is exactly what I was looking for. 

Fortunately for me the ski resort was closed.  This gave me the freedom to continue my run up the ski slops.  After examining the map of the resort I selected a chair lift and started following it up.  As I journeyed up the slops the route got steeper and more snow-covered.  Eventually the lift ended, but there was still a sizable amount of mountain left to climb.  At this point I followed what seemed to be a set of snowmobile tracks.  At one point I was faced with an incredibly steep slope.  About half way up the slope I collapsed onto my hands and gasped / wheezed for air (it was great!).  After catching my breath I pushed on and before too long I was at the top.  At this point I was pretty much in the clouds.  With an elevation of approximately 3,000ft. it is funny that I never saw the mountain from town.  The reason for this was that the cloud cover was too thick when I left the ship.  Hence, there were a whole bunch of mountains just outside of town that I couldn't really see earlier in the day.  Fortunately, I decided to run up, even though I didn't know where exactly I would end up.  This tactic most certainly paid off.

After spending some time on the summit I began one of the greatest descents of my life.  While the climb to the top was slow and taxing, the descent was fas and furious.  With so much snow on the mountain I bounded and slid my way down in no time at all.  Running down the steep slopes of snow was like a dream…it was like falling with style as I catapulted myself with each stride.  It was sort of like running across a trampoline. 

Towards the bottom of the slopes I even did a bit of skiing.  On the way up to the ski resort I had found some plastic road reflectors lying in the grass on the side of the road.  Realizing that they might be useful as makeshift skis, I carried them part way up the mountain.  During the descent I stopped and tied them to my feet with some sort of rope/shoe lace stuff that I found on the ground.  Much to my delight it worked!  In fact, I got some pretty funny video footage of myself skiing down the mountain on my makeshift skis! 

Although the skiing was fun I reverted to running for the rest of the descent.  After grabbing a drink of ice cold water from a stream at the bottom of the ski slope I hopped back on the road and cruised into town.  Once back on the ship I spent quite a bit of time on the open deck as we headed out to sea.  The scenery on the way out was incredible.  In addition to the scenery I finally got to see WHALES!  This is the first time that I have ever scene a whale and it was pretty cool!  What better place to see one than in ICELAND?

On a more serious note, my adventures in Akureyri have an important lesson to teach.  This lesson is that many times in life we must act on faith, trusting that God is in control.  So many times we want to know what the outcome will be.  We want to see everything laid out in logical steps.  We want a 5 year plan and an insurance policy to back it up.  We are cautious to try new things because we fear that we might fail.  Or we worry day and night about what our future may or may not hold.  The trouble is that this fear and worry isn't very productive.  Thus, instead of worrying we must seek direction from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We won't always be able to see the top of the mountain but what we can do is take one step at a time, trusting in him to provide.

And sometimes, when we finally reach that mountain top, and we look back at the journey, we realize that it's good that we couldn't see everything.  For one, if we had been able to see all that lay between the sea and the mountain, we might have been too scared to start.  Or perhaps, if the future wasn't so shrouded in clouds, we would have been tempted to climb a different mountain, one that may have looked easier, cooler, or more fun.  And so you see, sometimes it is best for the future to remain a mystery.  For without mystery, where is the fun, the adventure, or the need for God?

In conclusion, today was sooooooo good!  I am having the time of my life on this trip.  I feel so blessed.  Enjoy the pictures!

I'm in the clouds!


Now we're starting to get somewhere.

Can you say ICE cold?

Following the chair lift up the mountain.
Up, up, up...

My view during the descent back into town.

That's the mountain I ran up.

Part of the ascent (and descent).

1 comment:

  1. Wow Zach - Now I am wishing you returned June 1 so we could have joined you on the 15th for this trip. The scenery is so absolutely amazing - I can't even imagine! I am so very happy for you to have this experience. It is wonderful to see all that God is teaching you - We love you! See you in a few days!