Kjalvegur

The interior of Iceland is rather barren and notorious for being the place where exiled criminals would escape to and try and survive on their own. That might sound depressing, but if your goal is to take a vacation from civilization and explore the Icelandic wilderness, there is no better opportunity. I had to see it.

The Kjalvegur trail is a flat, 3-day hike between Hveravellir and Hvitarnes, connected by mountain huts along the way. You can walk the trail in either direction. The bus connections are a bit easier if you start at Hvitarnes, but that means you you must stay the night at Hvitarnes which adds a day to the trip (it's a fantastic setting though, so this is not a big hardship!). However I chose to start at Hveravellir because I needed to save the extra day for a different hike.

Hveravellir

The bus drops you at Hveravellir which is famous for its active volcanic features and hot spring. The surrounding area is covered by overgrown lava fields as far as the eye can see in all directions.

One notorious criminal hid in an underground home at Hveravellir with his wife and survived by stealing sheep that would pass by. His cave is still there today and it's surprisingly warm inside (sorry forgot to take a photo).

Volcanic features

Hot spring

The heated water from the volcanic area is drawn down through the pipes you see here...

...right into this fantastic hot spring pool that people can relax in! Makes for a wonderful dip at night when the temperature has dropped and you have a chance to glimpse the northern lights! Every 5 minutes or so, the hot water pipe gurgles, starts thrashing about of its own accord and some extra-hot water comes out! Best not to be sitting too close when that happens!

On the way to Ţjófadalir Hut

The next day I set out to Ţjófadalir hut. The day started out sunny, but as is so often the case in Iceland, the rain was inevitable. I made it to the hut before the worst of the weather hit, and then hunkered down for the night.

It must have been a combination of the bad weather and the time of year, but surprisingly I had the hut to myself.. until one other person finally arrived in a haste right before darkness fell, soaking wet and very grateful I had turned on the heat in the hut. Although I enjoyed the company, I was slightly disappointed I would be missing out on a chance for absolute solitude in this extremely remote location... (other than the sheep that were roaming around freely and scaring the bejeezus out of you when you went to/from the outhouse, of course).

Around Ţjófadalir Hut

The next morning the temperature in the hut was back down to 6 degrees since we had switched the heater off overnight. This did make it a bit easier, however, to get up at sunrise - which I like to do in Iceland. You never know what the weather will do in Iceland, it changes so fast. This trip alone I'd say it rained 90% of the days, was sunny 75% of the days, with the odd snowstorm and hailstorm thrown in the mix, and windy 99.9% of the time.

My philosophy is to make sure my stuff is all packed the night before, wake up at the crack of dawn, look outside.. if it looks good, then I walk. Don't pause for breakfast. Don't wait to boil water. By the time you've done that the weather has changed and you'll be stuck an extra hour in the rain. Luckily today the weather looked incredible, as you can tell from this panorama:

So I did a side trip and hiked up the mountain behind Ţjófadalir hut where I got simply spectacular views of the Langjökull glacier and surrounding valley! Seeing this view in this unbelievable weather really makes you feel extremely lucky to be alive!

On the way to Ţverbrekknamúli Hut

To Hvitarnes

The last leg of the hike took me to Hvitarnes hut, and then on another 8 km to the crossroad where the bus would pick me up and take me back to Reykjavik. The weather was not great, and having the deadline of the bus pickup looming over me made for a somewhat stressful hike. But I made it with time to spare.

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