At the crack of 6:00a.m., I was wide awake. It was probably the jet lag or better yet, the excitement of waking up on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic. As the days get longer moving into summer, it’s difficult to sleep in unless you have total darkness. Perfect. No time for sleep anyways. Cramming into our tiny car, I opened up my little notebook with ideas and numbers jotted down to find our destination: The hidden pool of Seljavallalaug.
My curiosity to find this pool stemmed from a photo someone showed me after my first trip to Iceland. Completely remote and surrounded by nothing but nature. Without an exact address, I entered in the supposed GPS coordinates (63°33’59”N, 19°36’32”W). They brought us to a remote gravel car park, where it promptly started to snow. Continuing on foot through the canyon, we crossed a small stream trickling down from the mountainside. It’s at this point where you need to stop and look at your surroundings. You are miles away from home, familiarity, comfort. You are in a different world.
Only 29°F outside and snowing, we hurried into the abandoned changing room at the base of the pool and stripped down to our trunks. The water was warm and felt comforting against the chilly air around us. Looking around, you could see where the warm water trickled down the rocks and collected into the pool. We couldn’t help but laugh at what we were doing at that exact moment: Swimming in natural geothermal water while it snows in a river valley near to a still-active volcano, Eyjafjallajökull.
Although other adventurers and travelers alike have swam in this pool for years before me, in that moment, I felt like I had stumbled upon a well kept secret. I felt part of a special club, like it had been waiting for me all these years, bearing the elements for me to come along for a quick swim. During that tiny segment of my life, I was genuinely happy, grinning from ear to ear. It was one of those experiences in life that you’ll someday tell your grandkids about.
It was the pain of finding the pool that made it much more worthwhile. Aside from the coordinates and photo I had seen, we didn’t really know where we were going. If there had been signs and well paved roads directing you right up to it, it wouldn’t have had the same special feeling. Sure you can take a bus to the famous Blue Lagoon and pay the steep entry fee (albeit worth it), but finding my own adventure is something that I’ll never forget.
Even to this day when I go online and scroll across a photo of Iceland, I can’t help but smile and daydream about when I will return to this special island.