Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Wow, camping on Iceland's biggest glacier. Erik's camping gear thumped on his back as he loped down the lane where his three friends and their leader waited.

"Hi, Mr. Peterson. Hey Max, Nonni." Erik greeted them as he swung his backpack into the hydrogen-powered SUV. Sliding into a seat he jostled with his best friend, Kalli.

The two, fourteen-year-old boys, had been friends since they were six and shared many adventures exploring their remote country. Erik's fiery-red hair had earned him his nickname "Erik the Red." He didn't mind at all but proudly proclaimed that was was a descendant of the Viking, Erik The Red.

After two hours of bone-cracking, teeth-jarring drive over rough lava terrain, they reached the foothills of the glacier, Vatnajökull. Stark, barren and grey-black from blowing volcanic sand the glacier towered toward the sky. Anticipation and excitement surged through Erik. He turned and saw Kalli grinning at Max and Nonni who were gaping at enormous ice boulders stacked on top of each other.

Seeing the looks on the two boys' faces Mr. Peterson chuckled. "This isn't as bad as it looks. We'll be on a short hiking path, and then we'll be on the ice. We'll need to put crampons on now, grab our gear and get started."

"Yeah, let's go." The boys hollered. Puffing and panting the group reached a black, basalt boulder. Removing their backpacks the boys sank down groaning and rubbing their shoulders and necks.

"You guys did well. This was a long climb." Their leader complimented them. "We'll rest here a bit," he continued, "and then we'll hike to that ice-topped rock up ahead. Looks like there's an ice cave next to it. We'll check it out for a possible campsite."

"Camping in an ice cave, how cool is that." Nonni and Max shouted exuberantly.

"Speaking of cool." Kalli hopped up then rubbed his hands on the boulder where he'd been sitting. "It's ice-cold but this rock feels quite warm."

Mr. Peterson walked over. "Yes, the rock is warm, but I don't see any melting snow on the ground around it. I don't think we need to be concerned."

"Getting spooked by the Trolls?" Max and Nonni hooted. "Forgetting you're an Icelander? We have these hot-spots everywhere." But an eerie tingle oozed down Erik's spine as he glanced at Kalli.

"Okay boys, let's move." Mr. Peterson cheerfully called out.

As they reached the glacier their leader uncoiled a rope from his shoulder and tied the boys in line, behind himself, three feet apart, first Max, then Nonni, next Kalli with Erik last.

"Walk in, or close to, my footsteps while I check for any rifts or cracks that may be under this layer of snow." Mr. Peterson hacked the ice with his ice-axe then motioned for the boys to start following.

Far below, Erik saw the DUKW (duck), a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck, take tourists out on Lake Glacier. The lake was mirror-smooth, reflecting huge ice boulders. Thick, white, fluffy clouds floated lazily in the grey-blue sky. Perfect day.

Suddenly a crashing sound filled the air as an earthquake tremor rippled across the ice field. Frantically, Mr. Peterson hammered a piton into the ice. He had just fastened the rope when another jolt rumbled across the glacier. Erik and Kalli stared, terrified, as their leader, Max and Nonni disappeared into an opening in the ice, their frantic cries echoing in the air.

The rope yanked Kalli to his knees and he started to slide to the edge of a split that was slowly opening all around them. Desperately, Erik dug in his cleats  just as a saber-shaped chunk of ice careened down and severed the rope. They were stranded on a tall, chimney-shaped isle of ice! 

They stood frozen with fright as fear, like an icy blanket, covered them....

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