Hiker on Iceland’s Witch Mountain

An appropriate name for this steaming mountain! This guy looks like he’ll surely disappear into the crevices of this volcanic landscape, doesn’t he? But he didn’t. He was just hiking, along with maybe 30-40 others, who were all scattered across this steamy mountainside of Kerlingarfjoll, or Witch Mountain, located deep in the Interior.

The entire country of Iceland is known for its striking landscapes and geothermal activity. Most tourists visit the geysers and sights along the Ring Road, but not too many travel through the desolate Interior, a region impassable most of the year. Only in the summer is it possible to visit. And even then, when the frozen highlands begin to melt in mid-summer, 4WD vehicles are necessary to cross rivers, maneuver deep sand, and dodge potholes in this barren desert landscape where Apollo  astronauts once trained before hitting the moon.

Of the 3 interior routes, we traveled along the Kjolur mountain track and spent the night in a mountain hut bunkhouse in Hveravellir (almost the exact center of Iceland) between Langjökull and Hofsjökull glaciers. The geothermal fumeroles and mud pools were fascinating to see, especially at night under a full moon. It was my favorite night of the trip (except for the heavy snoring from some of our bunk mates!)

But the surrounding landscapes were just as intriguing. And hiring a local guide was essential to access sights along the track that we’d never have found on our own, such as Kerlingarfjoll Mountain, where hikers were carefully walking over this steaming terrain.

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