Iceland Part 3: Hiking the West Coast
Finally, part 3! With the holidays and New Year’s, I’ve been really lazy about keeping up the blog.
Hiking up the west coast of Iceland was a must for me, mainly because they filmed scenes from Game of Thrones there (yes…. these are my goals), and I even schooled our tour guide. (and yes…. I was that person) You better believe I had the screenshots of the scenes saved on my phone so I could compare location shots.
I hiked along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with around 8 other people, got to see Mt Kirkjufell (where they filmed north of the wall in GOT), crazy cliffs, volcanic craters, and had dinner on a horse farm which felt so good after only eating RX bars for the last few days. I did the tour with Eastwest Iceland, and it was amazing.
I mentioned in my last post that I ironically finished On the Road in the air, and although I wasn’t a huge fan of Jack Kerouac’s famous narrative, I was inspired and envious of how adventurous and trusting he was in the late 1940’s. It inspired I guess a few of my own trusting decisions, written below.
I debated for a long time how I was going to share this story, because in hindsight, it was very dumb. I wanted to be adventurous, to just go with the flow of everything in Iceland, and try as many new experiences as possible. After reading Kerouac I was envious of a time that people were so trusting and could hitchhike, that when given my own opportunity, I took it. My tour guide (pictured above) and I became friends throughout the day and I told him I was sad I didn’t get to see the northern lights, and more of Iceland’s nature due to the crazy weather. At the end of the tour after dropping everyone off, after our 10 HOUR long hike, he asked if I wanted to keep going, that he knew of a secret spot that only locals know of, and that if I love hiking, I would love this, oh, and it’s a “surprise.”
Like an idiot, I said yes. Obviously, I’m fine, and this worked out amazingly for me, but in retrospect, probably not the safest decision traveling alone.
I immediately texted my friend back home the blurriest photo of his license plate and a short description of: “hey, off with my tour guide, alone, send help if you don’t hear back from me in a few hours…” Nothing like sending a cryptic text like that with 0 follow up. I was trying to be discrete, to not look like an American jerk texting away…. yes, let’s not offend a possible kidnapper. For the record, I’d be the most polite victim.
We drive for about an hour and half east of Reykjavik (I recognized some of the signs from my hike the previous day. I thought: maybe he’s taking me back there because I had to cut my initial hike short. Nope. We eventually get to this area behind a little village and I see woods. It’s pitch black mind you, and he pulls out a head lamp and says “Let’s go!” I’m now hiking through the woods, in the dark, with a man I had just met. (sidenote: my tour guide was very nice, enthusiastic, active, 100% not my type, also….67! I could not believe his age when he told me…. now that you have a better image in your head and understand there was no flirting involved, I’ll continue).
All of a sudden we get to this cute little shed half covered by grass, and inside I’m thinking, “Crap, this is where I die, but at least I get murdered in a place that looks like the Shire.” Actual thoughts. I was very optimistic with the idea of my murder. As we enter the shed, he asks if I’ve figured out yet where we are. Umm… no. He tells me we’re at a natural geothermal spring that only locals know about and in the summer time it’s used for the sheep. Ok cool, and then nonchalantly goes: “Alright, let’s strip.” UMMMM WHAT? I tell him very politely, I’m going to keep my clothes on for this, and he goes ok, but that did not stop him one bit. I am now basically chilling in a hot tub, in my clothes, under the stars (still no northern lights) with a naked older man. Most romantic spot…. just forever embedded in my memory now for being the most awkward experience. To be honest, it was awesome (not the naked part), I saw so many shooting stars, and the water was perfect. It was such an amazing experience, and I can’t stop laughing thinking about it. He told me this is how vikings bath, and I learned very quickly, I was not cut out for the viking life.
I included a photo I took of the shed at night, and what I found on Google. I was asked not to blog its location so I won’t, but it is ‘Googleable.’ He said since the influx of tourists, this spot has been trashed before by tourists, and I heard that a lot from other locals. People will come, bring beers, and leave the empty cans everywhere. Or they’ll move the rocks that form the pools, and that can mess up everything from temperature to how the water remains contained.