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Hiking Through Iceland

In Iceland, we experienced so many different activities. We hiked glaciers, went extreme off-roading, took incredible hikes, visited geothermal and hydroelectric plants, explored the largest city Reykjavik and much more. I would like to focus on our hikes that we took on this trip and the amazing things we discovered along the way.

The first hike was a three hour, two mile hike up rural mountains. Our end goal was to make it to the top where we could then swim in natural hot springs. Before that hike I figured that would be the only thing we had to look forward to, but I was definitely wrong. On the way to the top of the mountain, I saw more breathtaking views than I had ever seen in my life. Once we finally made it to the top, we hopped into 90 degree Fahrenheit water. This spring is heated by geothermal energy underneath the mountain and initially comes to the surface of the mountain at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. It was truly nature’s hot tub.

Another memorable hike was to the top of the Gullfoss waterfall. This hike was three and a half hours and roughly three miles long. It was a tough hike that took good endurance, but the view at the top was truly breathtaking. This view had to be one of the prettiest things I saw on the whole entire trip. My favorite hike was the glacier hike. We navigated along Iceland’s second largest glacier called Hvolosskali. It has always been a dream of mine to be able to see a glacier, so to actually be able to explore this one was awesome. We saw many gorgeous views and we learned the history of the glacier. A group of students started marking how much the glacier was receding each year and their findings are not only astounding but very scary. Just last year alone the base of the iceberg receded 110 m.

The last hike we took was truly a once in a lifetime experience. One particular night we were in Iceland, forecasters said there would be a 48% chance of seeing the Northern Lights. While 48% doesn’t seem like much, the locals informed us that it was about as high of a percentage as you will see. Therefore, our group leaders took us on a hike that night to give us the best chance of seeing the lights. With headlamps attached to our gear, we hiked two miles in the dark to the top of a mountain. We sat and talked for about two hours and just truly enjoyed every minute. Finally, one of the group leaders said, “Everyone they are here. Look to the left.” We all quickly turned our heads and to our surprise there they were, the Northern Lights. Many people have been to Nordic countries before, but not everyone has been fortunate enough to be able to say they saw the Northern Lights. I am very grateful that I was able to see them while I was there. They truly are a wonder to behold.

Overall, my trip to Iceland leaves me at a loss for words. The people there are very friendly, the landscape is gorgeous, and what they are doing to help save the environment is unmatched. I would highly recommend putting this gorgeous country on your bucket list. I will be forever grateful to NCSU, the Enrichment Fund, my parents, and all who helped make this dream become a reality. I hope that one day I can return to see what else this incredible country has to offer.