Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a tastefully-edited version of the journal I kept during the time I spent in Iceland. You can find all the entries and more on the “Iceland Transcribed” page.
For now I’m waiting in the lobby of Bus Hostel; the bus to Esjafjall [Ehs-hya-fyall] isn’t for another hour or so. I figured waiting inside was better than outside, in the rain.
I paid 800 ISK ($6.99 USD) for breakfast at the hostel, which consisted of yogurt, a bagel with butter and jam, and a cup of tea. It’s a steep price, but it’s the most food I’ve eaten in one sitting since I had dinner with Patty. It feels good to feel full.
I may go out for lunch or dinner after my hike – I need some protein and veggies in my diet. I texted my roommate last night requesting my first meal back at home be full of crunchy fruits and veggies. Instant noodles are cheap, but not satisfying.
What a hike! Everything hurts.
Fairly early on in the hike, I realized I was essentially playing “leap frog” with young guy in a plaid shirt. We exchanged a few words, and after the fourth exchange or so, I introduced myself and suggested we hike together, since it seemed like that’s what we were doing anyway.
His name is Jack, from southern California. He was on a stayover from visiting family in Europe, and had decided he may as well go on a hike while he was here.
The trail was broken into six sections, each one marked with a sign – written in Icelandic, of course. The only thing I could make sense of was the difficulty level, which was indicated by one, two, or three boots, with one being “easy”, two “moderate” and three “difficult”.
At home, an easy trail means it’s probably flat, possibly paved, and a five-year-old (or seventy-five-year-old) could manage it.
In Iceland, that does not seem to be the case.
Esja has a steep incline right off the bat, and the trails were incredibly rocky, unlike the dirt forest paths at home.
Since I couldn’t find a place for my pack before leaving, I had to carry it during my hike. By the time we reached the first sign post, I had shed all the extra layers I could get rid of. By the time we reached the fourth sign and the trail went from one boot to two boots, I was questioning my decision to hike with such a heavy pack. Beyond that point, I had to stop every few steps to catch my breath.
But I get intense when I’m on the side of a mountain.
At one point, Jack wanted to know how heavy my pack really was. He threw it on his back and exclaimed, “You’ve been carrying this the whole time?! There’s no way I could have done that!”
He’s not a large person, but it felt good to have a member of the opposite sex (or really anyone) be incredulous at what I’m capable of.
I encouraged Jack onward, and he, me. Feeding off each other’s energy, we continued to sign six, which indicated the path to the top was “three boots” difficult. We continued on until we found a mostly-flat spot to rest.
Beyond the sixth sign, the “trail” was really only indicated by a chain to hold on to as you were to then walk along the cliff face, like a mountain goat. I left my pack with Jack as he snacked, and followed the chain for a ways.
The view from the almost-top was incredible. I could see Reykjavik across the harbor, even with the clouds rolling in, enshrouding the world in a grayness that looked like dreams. But the most stunning things were the colors: the gray of the clouds and the icy crystalline of the streams; the green, grassy moss against the black lava rock that forms the mountain; the purple of the clovers and the redness of my heart as it thuds behind my eyelids.
As I ate lunch in the midst of a cloud, it was like dining with the gods.
The way back down and into town was uneventful. I forgot which bus stop to get off at back in Reykjavik, and ended up about a mile and a half away from the hostel, with an empty stomach and a heavy pack. Thankfully, my route took me by one of the countless hot dog stands here in Iceland, so I grabbed a bite.
The sign outside the shop proudly proclaimed, “The Most Famous Hot Dogs In Iceland!” I can confirm that it was… a hot dog. It was food, and I needed it, so it was gone by the time I reached the hostel at the end of the block, regardless of how good (or bad) the food itself was.
After some careful assessment, I decided I didn’t want to pay 700 ISK (somewhere around $6 USD) to do laundry, so I hand-washed the clothes that I desperately needed, and I guess I’ll just smell bad for the rest of my trip.
I should go out and find some food for the next couple of days, but my blisters and I loathe the thought of putting on shoes. Perhaps I’ll seek out a market before my horseback tour in the morning.
I do feel a bit homesick still, but not as much as I did in Akranes. I overheard some Canadian girls on the bus loudly talking about their time in the city. As obnoxious as these girls were, hearing them made me long for home.
But, they repeated multiple times that they wished they had more time than a week in Iceland. And that made me glad for my extended stay, because I can do whatever I want with no worry about time constraints.
Besides, I have the rest of my life to be at home, but only twenty-eight more days here in Iceland.