Arriving in Iceland is like waking up in a smaller, cleaner, friendlier version of an American airport. I have never had an easier experience getting through customs and finding my way to my ride in an international airport in my life. Almost all Icelanders speak English and speak it well and willingly. The welcoming nature of the place is immediately apparent. I can’t say if it’s always been like this, or what it might be like in the winter when they have almost perpetual darkness, but the sunshine, mild climate, and familiar European- style culture is a great way to begin the trip.
Reykjavik is known as, among other things, the “smokeless city,” due to its use of thermal power for energy and the cleanliness, and progressive nature of this relatively tiny capital city is immediately apparent. In fact, the size of the population is somewhat shocking…only about 320,000 people in the entire country and half of them live in Reykjavik, leaving a breathtaking natural countryside almost untouched. Lamb and horse farms dot the landscape with fishing boats often visible in the distance. I am anxiously awaiting the trip to this moon-like landscape where we hope to climb and summit the highest peak on the island. The mountain Hvannadalshnukur is not only the highest point in Iceland but is the top of Europe’s largest glacier. For the fourth year in a row, the famed Icelandic clothing company 66 Degrees North is helping make it possible for locals and others from around the globe to join together to climb this peak and celebrate the natural beauty of this little known area of the world.