With ravishing waterfalls among enchanting geothermal mountains, trails taught lessons in geological contrasts and the warmth of Icelanders.

The land of fire and ice, home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe and some of the world’s most active volcanoes, I could have been running aside flowing lava or on a glacial icecaps and, limited vision aside, may have never known. Unorthodox folkloric trolls, elves, ghosts or fairies may have been chasing yet, meshed among the relentless, fog remain mythical to me. That said, I found a magical local who guided me on trails I certainly never would have discovered on my own. Birkir proudly shared insight into Icelandic culture as my endless questions came as quickly as the pace we ran.

Like old college friends, Birkir and I gelled and developed a clockwork routine which saw the weather follow suit. Despite the pattern of low clouds hovering, my smile and excitement remained high for the novelty of each day beyond the weather Mother Nature served.  Trails in the Esja volcanic massif made for footing of fine grain basalt and lumpy porous tuff, through the Heidmork Nature Reserve into the lava tunnel of Burfell where running the ridge of the volcano and down to the crater felt mystical with the city seemingly a world away.  Though the footing, terrain, and incline varied the fog remained relentless.

On my final day, our routine stayed true to form until we approached the parking lot of Reykjadalur, the Smokey Valley, when, like the extreme contrasts of daylight in the Icelandic calendar year, the fog magically vanished and opened clear blue sky. The steam from the geothermal hot pools was surreal as was stopping mid-run to jump in them.  With ravishing waterfalls amoung enchanting geothermal mountains,  the trails taught me a lesson in geological contrasts while Birkir’s company served first hand insight of the quality of life, use of natural resources, gender equality, and democracy in Iceland.

From the local hot pools to the Festival of the Sea, I reflectively strolled in wonderment each afternoon quickly finding a sense of what pride Icelanders have for their native land. The Land of the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun is but a theme park; lagoons and spas, glaciers and volcanoes and with its diverse weather, something for everyone. Seaside paths, technical volcanic ridges, snow traverses and steep crater climbs a loot-bag for trail runners. For all of its contrasts, Iceland served an analogous reminder of my recovery. Like the weather, life can change quickly and drastically; stay tenaciously strong, you never know how close you are to a breakthrough.

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  1. Tom Stevens says:

    I may never get to explore Jill’s adventures other than on the printed page. I look forward to each post and a vicarious visit.

  2. Birkir says:

    Thanks again for the time we shared in Iceland Jill; I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your journey is an inspiration, keep living audaciously! All the best, Birkir.