More worth than any amount of money or possessions

By Kyle Mills,
Explorer, Dangoor Next Generation Iceland

Our Iceland expedition was a tremendous success. Here’s a first-hand account from one of our young explorers.

We arrived at half two in the morning, in the dimmed light of Svartarkot Farm. Morale was low after all were abruptly risen from our slumber. We arrived at base camp 45 minutes later after a 3km walk. Shortly after we started our expedition battling the elements by walking through deserts, ice, rain, blazing sunshine and not to forget the swarming flies.

There’s a saying in Iceland; if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes but towards the end it was just all rain. Some of our challenges include walking very long distances in a single day like the day we trekked 21km not forgetting the extra burden of our 20kg rucksacks, putting up tents in the rain, and losing some privacy and also our inhibitions allowing us to form close and trusting friendships.

Daily functions such as flatulence, washing, toileting, things that would normally be embarrassing were all open topics but made so much easier with the aid of humour. The solidarity of our fire made our low hygiene so much more bearable since we couldn’t shower and had to wash clothes in cold river water. The novelty of fresh food became like gold dust after weeks of ration packs which were definitely not gourmet!

Despite so many challenges many lessons were learned, and lives changed forever. Us young people have developed so many vital skills and attributes on this journey; resilience, having to fight back and back again, to not give up and accept defeat but to rise adversity and prove to ourselves the true strength inside us all. Our teamwork has grown from a tiny trickling stream at the bottom of Askja to a raging waterfall-like Alderyfoss which required work and effort from each member. Showing tolerance was key to the team developing the way it has. The pool of compassion and understanding has been immense warming us all on the coldest nights. Not only our attitudes to others but to ourselves has also changed.

This expedition has been a lava-stricken path to self-discovery, learning our true strengths, but fully understanding our weaknesses, accepting them, and recognising them as opportunities to grow and learn.

In this once in a lifetime experience, we’ve embraced others, ourselves but finally the stunning nature that has submerged us these last three weeks. Seeing the complete wilderness of this beautiful landscape has revealed the effect human life has on the earth and how the little things can have such a big impact which can be easily ignored when living in a fast-paced city. The power in our hands can only be fully appreciated when seeing such an untouched and pure canvas which has inspired us all to change our ways to conserve the wonderful world we live in.

We’ve seen such amazing sights on this expedition which will forever be mounted in our brains and feelings treasured with more worth than any amount of money or possessions. Every time when we think about the seven-hour accent up Askja, despite the lack of visibility due to the weather conditions, we will always remember the cold nipping our faces, the tire in our legs, the sound of the river flowing down, feeling the fast powerful gales blowing against our bodies and past our red ears, but most importantly the sense of achievement and pride when we finally reached the summit and came back down. On Alderyfoss our eyes feasted on the tidal torrent waterfalls that formed oh so many years ago stood next to what seemed to be perfect rock formations. Hearing the roar of mother nature herself as she collided with everything in her path fearing nothing and nobody as she is truly almighty.

Our highlights

We had so many amazing times, but here are a few images to give you a flavour of what we saw.

Our takeaway

The landscape

Every time I close my eyes, I will see the beauty we all saw climbing Selanderfell, looking down on the vast areas of desert hugging the vibrant green shrubbery with peaceful blue lakes dotted around, being surrounded by mountains and volcanoes all given life by the snaking rivers flowing like clockwork.

The people

One last thing that will stay in our hearts and minds forever is the love for each other and the sound of laughter will always ring in my ears like Christmas bells taking me back to us all huddled in one tent like sardines, playing cards and other games, making every single moment the best and happiest it could possibly be.

This is part of the Iceland Expedition. Read more about it on our Summer Expedition blog post.

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In this once in a lifetime experience, we’ve embraced others, ourselves but finally the stunning nature that has submerged us these last three weeks.

By Kyle Mills,
Explorer, Dangoor Next Generation Iceland