Near the ocean I would frequently encounter small flocks of arctic terns. One of the terns would dive-bomb me while the others flew away. I found that my trekking poles offered wonderful protection from this aggressor—I would hold one over my head and swing it back and forth like a pendulum. If I did not do this, the tern would be so bold as to knock my head.

I walked across one 400-meter long glacier and regretted it. It was mid-July and I was only at 500 feet, so the snow that had fallen on the glacier during the winter had long melted off. Underneath was bullet-proof ice that really required sharp crampons (and, for additional safety, an ice axe), which I did not have. Even at higher elevations, by mid-July most of lower portions of the glaciers were not snow-covered. In retrospect, I would have either stayed off the glaciers entirely, carried crampons, or gone earlier in the summer when the glaciers would have still been snow-covered and I could get away with my running shoes.

There are no mosquitoes in Iceland, which is shocking considering how much standing water there is. But there are non-biting gnats that can be very pesky on warm, calm days, which (at least in this regard) thankfully there are few of. I am happy that I had a headnet to avoid the dive-bombing of my eyes, nostrils, and ears.

Fording glacier-fed rivers is nerve-wracking, dangerous, and sometimes impossible. These rivers are extremely silty, like the Colorado, and it is difficult to gauge their depths. I used clues like the river’s surface (i.e. the wave pattern), rate of flow, width, and braid patterns to determine the safest crossing points. I also used my trekking poles to prod in front of me as I was going across, unless I needed them firmly planted for stability. The water was extremely cold, just above freezing; I once had to stop mid-stream in order to allow a beach ball-sized chunk of ice float past me. The glaciers melt more in the daytime and on warm/sunny days, so schedule your day to ford glacier-fed rivers in the morning or at night when the melting has slowed down.

Because of the extensive hut system, I was never far from safety, even in Iceland’s most remote regions. Of course, I can hike 40 miles a day, so I can reach a hut faster than someone who hikes shorter distances.