Mt. Esja, Iceland

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View from Mt. Esja, Iceland

If you can somehow finagle a trip to Iceland on your way back from Europe as I did, be sure to explore its nature. Young, still nervous about solo travel and nearly out of money after 5 months in England and abroad, I barely left Reykjavik. On my second and final full day, I knew I had to search for Iceland’s natural beauty. Without venturing too far, I ended up here, at Mt Esja. It’s small–just 914 m (or 2,999 ft), only 10km from Reykjavik and dating back to the ice age.  Much like the rest of Iceland, it’s volcanic. It’s brown, dusty, dead. The tree line is low, the winds are unforgiving, the cold becomes bone-chilling, even in May. Yet, there is something special about climbing a desolate mountain with a fellow solo-traveler, a Scandinavian you met on the bus to Esjurnelar. Life seems to stop at the mountain’s summit–in every direction you can see the evidence of what happens when the earth gets angry and spits fire. Ashy and grey, I’ve discovered Iceland’s true beauty.

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