On hiking in Iceland
I once spent a year living in Iceland and I quickly came to learn a couple of special things about this place:
- in winter most walkways are ice-free due to intelligent piping
- the country’s culinary specialty is rotten shark which instead of chewing is swallowed down with Brennivín (really strong alcohol)
- the consumption of Coca Cola per capita is higher than in the US
- knitting and partying compete for the title of „Most Popular Way to Cope with Winter“
…really, I could go on for days.
While I stayed in Reykjavik during the winter months I partied and knitted, ate rotten shark and drank Brennivín, I walked on ice-free walkways but all too often fell regardless, because the steps to our house had no smart pipes running through them and therefore were covered in the slippery devil pretty much every morning.
However, winter passed and summer came, the exams were over and the days were as long as you could imagine. Soon the girls and I planned our first hiking trip up the city’s „Hausberg“ Esja. Unfortunately, Odin or Loki or whoever, got into our way and brought rumbling rain clouds with him. Hiking had to be delayed.
On a beautiful day in May we decided to give it another try and got on a bus to a little town south-east of Reykjavik, called Hveragerdi. Road-Tripping in Iceland does not necessarily include renting a car. There is only one main road around the island and in summertime bus service is good enough to get you from A to B to C in no time.
Coming to Hveragerdi by bus was easy, but reaching the starting point of the hike by foot took us another hour. Don’t hesitate to hitchhike the way – many Icelanders have huge trucks and are very helpful if you ask kindly.
Hiking the Hveragerdi route in and out is easily manageable in one day, but if you have the time, bring a tent along, stay overnight and hike out on the next day. You will make your way into a little valley, always following the stream; it’s never steep, which makes it a perfect hike even for the not so fit ones. However, it is all about the reward you will get eventually.
Geothermal energy is one of the special things about Iceland which you can only love! At the end of the route you come to a river crossing: a hot and a cold river meet and mingle into one lukewarm stream. At several points we had to cross the river to follow the path – being used to the ice-cold streams of the Alps I was rather unwilling to get in there, but in the end I would have loved to take all my clothes off and relax like in a giant bathtub.
In fact, that’s what we used it for at the end of your hike – of course with our bikinis on!
So in addition to finding a perfect end of my semester and proving the uniqueness of a hiking experience in Iceland I even ended up with my first little sunburn of that year coming from a place so close to the Polar Circle.