Mt. Etna, Sicily eruptng
All was calm as I craned my neck toward the sky above Mt. Etna, half afraid of hearing an explosion that would shake the ground on which I was standing. I’d read that during an eruption, red-hot lava flows out of Mt. Etna’s crater and clouds of ash and smoke cover the Sicilian sky. Last year, Mount Etna was so active that it grew by 100 feet in half a year. And here I was with only two trekking poles for protection, climbing up. Would it erupt like Mount Vesuvius? Would I end up being a body frozen in time like those in Pompeii?
Slogging up Mt. Etna
That was highly unlikely because our guide, Carmelo, Professor of Volcanoes at the University in Catania, promised we’d be safe on this side of the mountain. We didn’t even need to don the helmets stuffed in our backpacks. We traversed the dark solidified lava terrain looking out and up to black mountains and craters everywhere in the distance. It looked like a scene out of the movie, The Martian, except the start terrain was black, not ochre-colored. As we arrived at the peak of one crater, Carmelo pointed to Africa in the distance and Europe to the North.
Looking down at some of the craters of Mt. Etna
There were more than 1,000 small lava cones everywhere we looked, each representing an eruption on Mount Etna. Tiny Ladybugs scurried around the ground looking for insects to eat. The orange beetles were in stark contrast to the back lava rocks. We climbed up the foreboding landscape, finally arriving at the summit, jubilant. We each found a rock and pulled our lunch from our backpacks, staring out at the unearthly dark landscape surrounding us. On the way back down, one minute we were sliding in black sand, the next, stepping over boulder-sized lava rocks. I smiled to myself. I’d done it! I’d made it to the summit of Mt. Etna with the other intrepid souls in our group.
The top of Mt Etna with eight other intrepid souls on …….