The day dawned early and the skies were clear above the eerie terrain. We got up at 6am, tore down camp, re-drove into the base of Hekla and began our ascent around 7:30. It was a damp and brisk 38 degrees. I dressed in lots of layers on my core.
The first 1o minutes was really steep. The trail was loose volcanic gravel and ash so with every step you took forward you slid a little bit back as you went uphill. At the top of the first false summit there were already incredible views. Colors of black and red from the volcanic rocks, bright green from the moss growth on mountains in the distance, and white snow capped peaks and glaciers mixed throughout.
We passed a few craters and places where it was obvious the lava had flowed down the mountain. It was like a giant path down the slope. You could see that the lava had flowed down and then just stopped and solidified in place. It was cool, but creepy. Especially when we started noticing areas all around us where the earth was steaming! We couldn’t identify exact “holes” or steam vents like we’d been able to in other places of the country, it was just the whole ground in some areas where white mist was just rising into the air.
There were areas on the trail where it would suddenly sound hollow. That was eerie too. “Crunch, crunch, thump…. hollow. Ah! Just keep walking.”
We got to areas where the trail led through snowy icy patches up hill. I was under the impression the areas were just thin layers of ice that hadn’t melted, but in one area we could see the depth of where it had been cut away, and it looked like it was 3-4 feet deep! Pretty cool.
We were an an hour and 45 minutes in, and surprised and relieved, we reached the top. We honestly weren’t sure how long the hike would take. We had read that it took some people 7 hours, 3-4 hours, so I think that was all based on where you park your car and which side of the mountain you went up. We drove up to the furthest point possible. Not sure why you wouldn’t!
The top was awesome. The views were breathtaking. And it was incredibly windy. In the pictures, it just looks like another mountain. But it was so unique and so different from any other hike I’ve done to date. Even if you can’t hike to the top, drive to the trailhead. That alone was epic.
We made it up and down in just under 3 hours. We were amazed. And we had the rest of the day to kill. Sarah and Levi hadn’t seen the hot river mom and I had gone to before they got to Iceland, so we went and did that for the rest of the day. The river was warm welcome treat, but the wind was blowing an almost constant 30mph which made for a really really chilly exit and change into dry clothes out in the open air.
Sarah and Levi were getting more and more sick as the day went on, and by evening Levi had the same fever I’d had. We opted to stay our last night in a hotel in Reykjavik.
We treated ourselves to Pizza Hut salad buffet before bed ( We’d eaten camp food for 9 days so we were like oh my gosh fruits and veggies what?!?!). That night, with four walls, a hot shower, and a warm bed, I slept like a log. My head hit the pillow and I was out and it felt like seconds later it was morning.
And just like that, our Iceland excursion was over. We had toured, hiked, camped, drove, explored, sweat, froze, laughed and cried.
And all I can say to you is: DO IT.