In contrast to yesterday, today’s hike was a long one – 20km worth! Yet we didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get going as we ate breakfast on the bench outside the Álftavötn Hut in the glorious sunshine under bright blue skies.
There were several more river crossings to negotiate
swathes of bright green to cross, with skittish Icelandic sheep keeping a wary eye on us
and waterfalls to admire. Iceland is, after all, the land of waterfalls!
Iceland is also the land of crazy changeable weather (particularly this Summer – the worst in 104 years according to all the Icelanders I met), and 1.5 hours later, the rain started.
An hour after that, the sun came out again – just as Kjartan called a halt for lunch on a plain of volcanic sand with almost fluorescent green moss. I love how the moss cradles the water droplets in its embrace! Kjartan, of course, claimed that he’d specifically timed lunch to coincide with the sun coming out. Yeah, right!
After lunch, we continued our hike through stunning scenery, skirting around the edge of a massive delta
and crossing the relatively deep (mid-thigh on me) and fast flowing river Hólmsá to arrive at our reward for the day. The Strútslaug thermal hot pool!
This natural pool is only small and has a silty bottom (the idea is to try to not move around too much to stir it all up), but it is the perfect temperature for soaking and relaxing in the most stunning environment.
With the cold river only a few steps away, naturally someone in the group suggested a “polar plunge”, something that several of my fellow trekkers decided to brave.
I wasn’t going to, but then Mike threw down the challenge of betting a Kiwi would do it if there were one in the group, so I really couldn’t let Australia down.
It. Was. Freezing!
I had asked Martin to record my plunge into the icy waters for evidence, but I’d forgotten that I’d left my camera on an odd setting. Yes, you guessed it. After braving and bearing it once, I had to go back in and do it all over again!
Refreshed and relaxed, we left the hot pool behind as we still had quite a distance to cover before we made it to the next hut at Strútur. The drizzle mostly held off
as our route took us through more gorgeous scenery
with a view of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier
before finally arriving at Strútur late in the day. Our dinner of baked Icelandic lamb was very welcome after such a long hike!
Distance = 20km
Time taken = 9hr 48 mins
Read more about hiking the Volcanic Trails
If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of the 7-day trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides
- Day 1 – Reykjavik to Hólaskjól via Eldgjá
- Day 2 – from Hólaskjól to Álftavötn
- Day 3 – from Álftavötn to Strútur
- Day 4 – from Strútur to Hvanngil
- Day 5 – from Hvanngil to Álftavatn
- Day 6 – from Álftavatn to Dalakofinn
- Day 7 – from Dalakofinn to Reykjavík via Landmannalaugar