Sunday, August 11, 2013

Iceland Day 2 Continued: Reykjadalur

Day 2 (Reykjavik)

Around five in the evening, we piled into a van with the GoEcco guides and a handful of travelers from Canada and Australia, and drove south toward Hveragerdi to Reykjadalur Valley. The GoEcco guides are a family - a father and his wife, and the father's son. The son, Frederick, was only a teenager but he ended up guiding us on his own into Reykjadalur Valley. I trusted him completely as soon as he pointed out three different plants we could eat, including Arctic thyme.

Good in salads!
Although GoEcco's website was vague about what we might see on our White Night Hike, I had a pretty good idea of where we were going thanks to my pre-trip research. I'd heard of a valley where two rivers meet - a cold one, and a hot one - and blend to create the perfect bathing spot. Tyler and I had planned on hiking there on our own near the end of our trip, but we were happy to have a guide who knew an alternate route - we saw a lot of great stuff.

The hike can be treacherous due to thermal activity. We saw lots of steamy, burbling mud pots.

At last, we reached the river...

And promptly took all our clothes off. (Well, I did, anyway. Some of the others chose more modest places to change than right out in the open, but I was too eager to get in the water!)

Our guide had packed sandwiches, wine, and Brennivin. There is nothing better - nothing! - than eating dinner half-naked as perfectly warm water flows over you. I decided then and there (somewhat foolishly) that whatever came after, this was going to be my favorite moment of the whole trip.

The hike back down was somewhat less enjoyable, damp and muddy as it was.

The whole way back was shrouded in steam and fog. And it rained. I was perfectly comfortable, but Tyler was freezing!

We also found out that someone is in the process of creating a paved road leading to the river, which will naturally result in it getting clogged with tourists, rather than being the peaceful retreat that it was for us. So disappointing!

When we got to the bottom, we were rewarded with a quick visit to a cave featured in the movie "Batman Begins."

"And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

We had a great time on the White Night Hike - hurry and do it before they finish the road to the river!

Go to Day 3: Snaefellsness

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