clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ramblin' Recollections: A Story of Iceland and Firewater - Part 6, The Rookie Turns Pro in a Hurry

One of our readers recently took a trip to Iceland, and wanted to recount his voyages with our community.

Here’s some food… I mean reindeer!
Here’s some food… I mean reindeer!

The next morning, after saying our goodbyes, we headed over to a whitewater rafting company for a trip we had booked. I had never been whitewater rafting before, so I was a little nervous but mostly excited. A large group of kids had booked a trip on the same day, so the company tried to lump us in with them to go down the West River, which is class two rapids. That would have been fine with me, but two of our crew wanted something a bit more challenging. The river guides talked to the powers that be at the company, and we were able to book a trip down the East River that afternoon. The East River is full of class four rapids.

So we lounge around town for a few hours waiting on our trip, and in the process we found out some interesting information. None of the guides had been down the East River yet this year. Not only that, but the water level was very high because the glacier was just starting to melt. So we were going whitewater rafting down a glacial river with class four rapids that none of our guides had been down yet this year. I was stoked! I tend to do this really goofy laugh when I get nervous, and I was laughing a lot on this trip.

The guides drove us up to the drop in point, and we hopped out to get everything ready and go over all of the safety information. We wore wet-suit overalls and dry suit tops for this trip just to keep us warm. The water was 1 degree Celsius. The basic information I took from the guide in charge was that if I fell out of the raft into one of the rapids, I was a goner. We had six guides with us that afternoon. Three of them just wanted to tag along on the trip to go down the river, and three of them were from Nepal and came to Iceland for their summer jobs.

We launched into the river and came to the first rapid, called Alarm Clock. They call it Alarm Clock because if you were sleeping before you got there, you sure as hell were awake when you got through it! After taking the violent beating from that rapid, we made our way through several more for about 12 kilometers. At this point, we pulled into a small, calm area of the river protected by a rock face to take a break. Or so we thought. One of our guides pointed at the rock face and said, "Climb it a jump in!" We exchanged incredulous looks, and by the time we looked back at the guide, he was halfway up the rock face. He was serious. This rock face was about 30 feet high, and it wasn't an easy climb in wet clothing.  After very carefully making our way to the top, we took turns jumping into the river. I wish I had pictures of any of this, but I chose not to ruin my camera or phone instead.  After the jump, we hopped back in the raft for the final 5 kilometers down the river. We pulled out of the river, absolutely freezing, and were treated to a couple of bowls of lamb soup by the rafting company. Nothing could have been better at that moment, and the feeling finally came back into my hands and face.

After we cleaned up from the river adventure, we headed out to our next hotel for the night. I drove us about 300 kilometers to our next town, and we were so tired, we just turned in for the night.

There were several other somewhat exciting events that took place on our return trip to Reykjavik, but most of them aren't quite PG-13 enough for FTRS. Some things can’t be unseen. I’ll leave it at that.

Iceland will always be a special place to all of us, and our time there was magical.  If you ever get the chance to go, jump at it.  I know I’ll be making a return trip at some point in my life to see all of the things that I missed, and hopefully take a few excursions that I couldn't afford this time around.

10/10. Would do it all again in a heartbeat.