Today was our first day waking up by Skjálftavatn Lake! Everyone woke up at 7:10 am to have a heart-healthy meal of eggs, bacon, and veggies, and toast. Our rustic cabins lost electricity mid-meal prep, but thankfully it came back after a few minutes so we were able to eat breakfast before leaving for tree planting.
At 9:10 am the van pulled up to drive us to the hillside where we spent five hours planting trees. Back in the 800s, a volcano in Iceland erupted that took out the entire population of trees in this region. Eruptions like this along with trees being cut down for ships and homes left Iceland nearly treeless. Over the course of thousands of years, Iceland has only grown back 2% of the trees that it lost. Now, our group is a part of rebuilding Iceland’s ecosystem through reforestation. In one day we planted 2,500 Icelandic birch trees, found only in Iceland, and we used sixty kilos of fertilizer!
At lunch we had sunflower and jelly sandwiches, then we played a quick game of ninja with Daði, the local conservationist coordinating our tree-planting extravaganza. When we were near the end of our planting day, a sweet polish family on vacation pulled their car aside and asked if their sons could join us. We taught them how to plant and use the tools as Daði had taught us this morning. The polish boys laughed and smiled as they planted each tree, showering every single one of us with joy. A little while later we headed back to Keldunes for some chill time and dinner before wrapping up our first day of volunteering in Iceland.