A Walk from Varmaland to Bifröst
While in Iceland, we’ve learned that bad weather isn’t sufficient reason for modifying plans. If you insist on a sunny day to do anything, you might be waiting a very long time. So, despite the terrifying storm front rapidly approaching from the south, we zipped up our rain jackets and set out on a hike from Varmaland to the nearby town of Bifröst.
As we discovered upon arriving, Varmaland isn’t a “town” so much as a spattering of houses set around a geothermal greenhouse. We weren’t exactly sure about the location of the trail leading to Bifröst, and hunted around for somebody to ask. Finding a person in Varmaland is not an easy task, but finally we saw a guy working on his truck. “Bifröst?” He took a look at the sky, incredulous. “You’re going to get soaked. Why do you want to walk to Bifröst, anyway? There’s nothing to see.”
Not the most auspicious start to our big day out. Now, in addition to rain, we had the prospect of a boring hike to contend with. For the first hour, our path was just a dirt road leading to a remote farm and, just as the Icelander had warned, there was nothing to see. “At least the rain’s holding off,” I said to Jürgen, glaring at the clouds.
My fearsome stare must have intimidated Freyr, the Norse god of weather, because the rain never came. And then, once we had gotten past the Einifell farm about halfway through the hike, the scenery improved markedly. We entered a truly lovely landscape along the ridge of a lava field, overlooking the valley of the Hvitá River.
Soon enough, Bifröst appeared on the horizon along with the Grábrók Crater just to its north. This crater sits just alongside the ring road, and is a popular stop with tourists. We were feeling good, and completed the ascent in ten minutes. After checking out the view, we continued into Bifröst.
This is a university town, although as with Varmaland, you’ll have to stretch your definition of “town”. At least there’s a grocery store. We spent the night in Hotel Bifröst, which was an excellent place to recuperate after the hike. The beer at the hotel bar was cheaper than normal, and guests have access to a pool, billiards and ping-pong, all of which we used. Jürgen won in ping-pong, I won at billiards, and the beer-drinking ended in a draw. A perfectly fair ending to a surprisingly fun day.
The Greenhouse at Varmaland
Ancient Stables at the Foot of Grábrók