The Red Flag: Hiking Up Þorbjörn On The Reykjanes Peninsula

The Red Flag: Hiking Up Þorbjörn On The Reykjanes Peninsula

Christine Engel Snitkjær
Photos by
Art Bicnick

“Would you like to hike up the mountain alone?” asked Art, a photographer, and my companion for the day. “I’ll park the car on the other side and meet you at the top.” I gazed up at the still mountain from my car window. “Sure,” I said, not willing to admit that he had triggered a red flag in my mind.

The route from Reykjavík to Þorbjörn, the mountain I was to hike, had been straightforward. We took the highway toward Keflavik Airport. We turned left at the sign marked “Blue Lagoon.” Then we kept going straight through wide, flat lava landscapes before arriving at the foot of the mountain. Easy.

The solitary mountain

My solitary hike up the mountain turned out to be equally easy. It only took me 15 minutes to reach its 243 metre summit, where I had a 360º view of the surrounding area: lava fields, green hills, the Atlantic Ocean, and, of course, the Blue Lagoon.

The prospect of the hike itself was not the cause of my concern. The worry was knowing that I would be alone on a mountaintop. Ever since the age of twelve, I have feared being alone in nature. What am I afraid of? Trolls?

If trolls did exist, I imagine they would inhabit this place. A large rift, or a crack, divides the top of Þorbjörn into two. As I traversed through the labyrinth of the gorge, large rock formations enveloped me on all sides, blocking out the sunlight. I almost couldn’t fit through the cramped space.

After exiting the gorge, I basked in the sunlight for a few stolen minutes. No other humans had been in sight during my time at the mountaintop, and I took in the peacefully quiet. Reykjavík was just a faint outline in the hazy distance.

When I saw Art approaching out of the corner of my eye, I didn’t immediately recognise him. I must admit that I was alarmed—but only for a fleeting moment.

Out of place

Descending the mountain was much more scenic than going up. The steep trail led us through a small forest and we happened upon a wooden playground by the foot of the mountain.

Art left me once more to get the car while I followed a small path, heading toward the Blue Lagoon. Lava fields encompassed me, the look of which reminded me of brownish cookie-dough ice-cream sprinkled with pieces of dusty chocolate.

Once at the Lagoon, Art appeared again, and we dined at the LAVA restaurant. Undemanding elegance surrounded us on all sides, from a lofty ceiling to the calming, lounge-like music playing across the speakers.

As we finished our meal, seated among people drinking champagne in slippers and bathrobes, I felt oddly out of place in my hiking attire. It already seemed like the hike was a faint memory, and only my sore feet served as proof that I’d just been at the top of a mountain, completely alone, taking in the landscape in quiet solitude.

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