Adventure tour groups offer plenty of hiking excursions through Iceland’s wilderness. One that caught our eye was a guided hike through the Reykjadalur valley, but it wasn’t going to work with our timing and budget. After some additional research, however, we found a way to get there by public transportation. That’s how Jenny and I ended up taking a Reykjavik city bus, a second bus to Hveragerði, and then walking 45 minutes through the countryside to arrive at the base of a trail marked “Warning : Hot Springs.” Families with small children were hopping out of cars around us, adventure bloggers had rated the trail “beginner” – how bad could it be?
The ‘beginner’ hike quickly turned into a glutes-busting 80° incline up a mountain. Jenny marched ahead to take pictures as I stopped repeatedly to “tie my shoes.” At the top of the ridge, we were treated to views of a waterfall cascading into the valley below. Then we reached our biggest challenge of the hike – thick mud pits dug into the trail by guided tours on horseback.
As we continued along the ridge, a thick fog rolled in, obscuring the trail around us. Suddenly, we came to clearing, and the families we had passed bundled in rain jackets and hiking boots were stripping down to bathing suits and underwear! We had reached the convergence of two mountain streams, one hot and one cold, creating a temperature comfortable for swimming.
Later, we made our way back down the mountain, even more challenging than our hike up. We were soaking wet, with aching legs, and I managed to step in mud up to my ankles. Then it began to rain. From the base of the trail, we marched another 45-minutes back to the bus station, while Jenny endured my whining about wanting to hitch a ride from locals. But our adventure ended on a positive note – Next to the bus stop, we found the ruins of a concrete building covered in graffiti.
A bus and another bus later, we arrived back at our hostel with just enough time to pack up and hop on a shuttle to our final destination : the Blue Lagoon spa. We spent the next several hours soaking in the warm mineral water, sipping skyr smoothies, and rubbing clay masks on our faces with new friends from the hostel. It was the perfect conclusion to several exhausting days of adventures.