Trekking Iceland – Volcanic Trails – Strútur to Hvanngil

Our day started in the usual fashion – a breakfast of muesli, porridge, crackers, cheese, processed meats and various spreads, followed by the making of our packed lunches out of more-or-less the same ingredients.  Then, once Kjartan had showed us our route for the day on the map,

Daily summary of trail we will hike - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Kartjan showing us where we would be hiking today and pointing out the key features of our route

off we set up the relatively steep hill behind Strútur hut.

Climbing the ridge above the Strútur Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

You can see Strútur Hut below us in the river valley

 The first part of today’s hike saw us traversing the black volcanic sand plain of Mýrdalssandur

Crossing the black volcanic sands of Mýrdalssandur - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Crossing the black volcanic sands of Mýrdalssandur

with a stone cairn marking one of the old travel routes from the 9th century (did you know it is illegal to add rocks to cairns in Iceland?)

Stone wayfinding cairn from the 9th century- Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

This cairn has been here a long time! We are hiking in the footsteps of 9th century travellers

and the Mýrdalssandur glacier bordering our southern side. 

Mýrdalssandur glacier above the black volcanic plain- Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to get a good picture of the glacier. Aaarrrgggghhh the contrast! Some things you just have to be there to see for yourself

We took our lunch at the base of a small pass

Lunch on the black volcanic sand with the Mýrdalssandur glacier in the background - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Our lunch spot on the black volcanic sands of Mýrdalssandur with the glacier in the background. Desolate place! But very beautiful!

and I hiked up the hill behind to see what the next valley looked like from on high. Wow! What a view! And completely different to the valley we’d just been hiking through.  Absolutely worth the effort of the climb!

View into the next valley from the hill above our lunch on the black volcanic sands of Mýrdalssandur - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

View into the next valley from the hill above our lunch on the black volcanic sands of Mýrdalssandur. Definitely worth the climb!

In both the trek schedule provided by Icelandic Mountain Guides and in Kjartan’s briefing that morning, we’d been warned that we would need our river shoes handy for the next section of the hike.  We started hiking across the river valley in our normal boots

Hiking towards a wide series of river channels - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Hiking towards our major river crossing for the day

but at some point, even the most stubborn of us (hello Leigh! 😉 ) had to admit defeat and change into our river shoes.

Trekking companions wading through river channels - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

None of the river channels were deep, but there were a lot of them one after the other

Those who had sandals would take them off to walk on the soft, cushiony moss between the river channels

Trekking companions walking barefoot between the river channels - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

The moss was so soft and spongy underfoot and most of my trekking companions hiked barefoot between the river channels

as we slowly worked our way through the marsh for the next half hour.

Arctic cottongrass in the river valley - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

The presence of Arctic Cottongrass is a dead giveaway for extremely wet ground

We then climbed one final small pass

Climbing the final pass of Day 4 - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Climbing from the river valley up the final pass of the day’s hike

to end our day at yet another very comfortable hut at the mouth of the Hvanngil valley.

Hvanngil Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Approaching (top-left) Hvanngil Hut (top-right), and how lovely most Icelandic trekking huts are inside

Trekking Information

Distance = 14.3km

Time taken = 6 hours

Map

Basic Map of the hike from Strútur to Hvanngil in the Central Highlands of Iceland - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude Profile of the hike from Strútur to Hvanngil in the Central Highlands of Iceland - from Strava

Read more about hiking In the Shadow of Vatnajökull

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of the 7-day trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Iceland and around the world.

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