Last evening, we hiked uphill for an hour to get a view of Mt Etna erupting. It’s been erupting for the better part of two months and we got to see lava spewing from one of its vents (well really, from the safe distance we were standing, the ‘spewing’ wasn’t visible but we did see it flowing down the mountain). Apart from the strenuous hike resulting in a burning desire within me to throw up, it was absolutely phenomenal. On the drive up the mountain, black slabs of rock surrounded us on all sides and but the ground was so fertile that trees and shrubs filled the landscape. We also saw ‘volcano babies’ that Mt Etna had created in past years – little hills that resembled volcanoes in shape. It was beautiful, almost heavenly, and although I had left my camera in the trunk of the bus with my bag, my roommate fortunately took pictures of the scenery.
Once on top of one of the peaks, we took lots of pictures and some celebrated their success of the climb with beer and wine (but not too much beer and wine since we still had to climb down). And though the ascent was difficult for all the obvious reasons, the descent was difficult because we were in complete darkness. Some brought flashlights and we alerted each other of surprise drops, roots popping up from the soil and slippery spots (the terrain was volcanic ash that was dusty and slick). We all experienced a slight tumble or two but it was really fun to help one another and overcome the fear of toppling down the mountain.
The morale on the bus after this experience was a great one. We each felt accomplished and perhaps closer to each other. Soon after, the bus became silent as fatigue caught up with us.
PS: After being in the Smokies back home, the mountains of Israel and after this excursion, I’ve confirmed that one of my favorite places to be is in mountains. I don’t exactly know why but I absolutely love it and I’ve decided my next venture should be to the Rocky Mountains.