Former ODU women's soccer player and current assistant coach Jen Holton is playing professional soccer in Iceland this summer. She'll be checking in with OhioDominicanPanthers.com with updates from her travels this summer.
Hey everyone! Okay so last week I mentioned taking my family friends up the dormant volcano, Mt. Thorbjorn. In this blog I want to share with all of you how awesome this mountain is because it is probably my favorite part of my entire time here in Iceland. This mountain sits right at the entrance to Grindavik and is one of the very first mountains that I had seen when I first got to Iceland. It is pretty nice that in my town I not only live right on the coast line and can walk right up to the ocean, but I am also fortunate enough to have mountains such as Mt. Thorbjorn in walking distance to hike and enjoy the view from above.
Mt. Thorbjorn has a paved pathway that leads right up to it and then continues all the way around the mountain. Many people walk, jog, skate, or ride bikes along this pathway because it leads from in town straight to the mountain. The mountain is about 1.2 miles from my house so occasionally I will get a run in or a nice relaxing walk to it and back home in my free time. Once at the mountain there is a little parking lot where people can drive up to the mountain if they do not feel like walking. A dirt and rock path is somewhat leveled out for people to walk up the mountain as well as trucks to drive up for certain events that may take place on top of the mountain. The hike up the mountain is about 1 mile and at a steady pace takes about 20-30 minutes due to the increase in steepness at some points and loose rocks at others. People here will take young children up the mountain, which was somewhat shocking to me because it is no easy hike by any means. Not everyone climbs the mountain on the path, however: some people tend to create their own path and hike at all different sides of the mountain, some sides steeper than others, some covered in grass and moss while others dirt and rock.
The hike seems long and somewhat demanding while doing it. Man, on my first time up I wanted to quit halfway through, but once I got to the top it was completely worth it. When you reach the top there is a box with a guest book in it. The pages in the guest book are labeled with the date and then are followed by signatures of all the people that have climbed the mountain that day and choose to sign the guest book. This is a really cool idea, which I took part in by signing my name "Jennifer Holton (USA)."
As you continue to walk along the path, one can then see where the United States Army had camped out on this very mountain during World War II. In 1941, the United States Army, as well as the British Royal Army, teamed up to use this mountain during this war in the site that they called Camp Vail A' þorbjarnarfelli. The US Army put up tents in somewhat of a dip in the mountain where they would be protected from the wind but could also see out for long distances and set up air defense radar surveillance. The somewhat leveled pathway up the mountain was actually created by this group to help get army trucks and equipment up Mt. Thorbjorn. The US Army stayed on this mountain for four years and moved out in 1945 when the war was coming to an end.
Then you continue walking and you will notice a bunch of poles and electrical wires. I asked what these were for and was told that it was somewhat like our Hollywood sign but not as culturally known around Iceland. In the year of the millennium, the town of Grindavik set up a display at the top of the mountain that would light up the year 2000 at 12am on January 1, 2000 to celebrate the millennium. Ever since the millennium year, every New Year this sign lights up the New Year so this year will obviously be 2015. I will not be here on New Year's Day so I will not get to see it lit up, however it seems to be an awesome idea and the whole town is able to see it.
Lastly, when you finally come to the end of the dirt trail you can then look out and see the beautiful town of Grindavik. This is my favorite part of the entire walk because the view is unreal. You can see the coast line along the entire town, the harbor and where the ships enter and leave to go out and fish, and all the boundary lines between stores, house, streets, etc. You can look out and see boats far off into the distance of the ocean, glacier rock, and just the calm serenity of the water. This is by far the most relaxing place I have ever been to. You cannot hear anything besides the gentle wind that surrounds you. I like to sit on top of the mountain and just get away from everything to help clear my head and relax while enjoying the most amazing view of my trip. This type of location is not something that I can easily find and just walk up to at home and that may be part of the reason I enjoy it so much. It is always fun to experience new things especially ones as calm and peaceful as this.
Well, now you all know my secret spot, if you ever make it out to Iceland be sure to visit Mt. Thorbjorn! Now I've got to go get ready for an authentic Icelandic meal, lamb, at Siggi's house! I will blog again soon!