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Mount Etna

Posted by on Monday, May 22, 2017 in 2017 Blog post.

Experience Blog 4

Roaring winds filled with an onslaught of rain greeted our group as we stepped off the bus and onto the volcanic base of Mount Etna. We had barely been exposed to the tallest point on Sicily and we immediately ran into rain after not seeing a drop for the past two weeks. Regardless, I was exhilarated to be climbing Mount Etna, my dream destination when I read about this trip. As an avid hiker, I loved backpacking in America from the Grand Canyon to the Smokey Mountains and Mount Etna would be my first opportunity to hike in a foreign country.

We begun our hike, thinking the rain would be remain a constant downpour. However, as our guide explained the origins of the volcanic Etna, the rain instantly disappeared and was replaced by an almost-warm burst of sunniness. As we progressed, the asphalt road transformed into the volcanic rock, a slightly sturdier form of sand. Trudging this mixture, we began the steep climb to reach one of Etna’s four craters. As we took breaks, our guide explained the importance of Etna’s explosion to the ecosystem surrounding us. She also discussed the impact of the 2002 explosion, where built-up lava found 42 new exits and formed numerous lava flows around the mountain.

Admiring the Scenery

Once we reached a level ridge to hike around, we were greeted with unrelenting powerful winds. These winds still seemed manageable but it wasn’t until we reached the crater that the winds picked up to greater speeds (I want to see at least 70 mph but my wind speed estimation skills are quite poor). The wind was blasting us with such force that the dirt particles are being hurled against our faces! I felt certain that I would have lost my phone if I let go of it. The trail continued but the guide deemed the winds too unsafe.

The Winds of Etna

A little off topic but I had the chance to “recreate” one of my favorite scenes from Lord of the Rings. All the volcanic rock reminded me of the scene where Sam carries Frodo up the slopes of Mount Doom and I felt the need to redo the scene with my roommate, Michael.

I can’t carry it for you but I can carry you!

It’s difficult to make a comparison between American and Sicily in this geographic regard but I will say this. Despite being an active volcano (and carefully monitored at that), there were a lot of households surrounding the base of Mount Etna and even the major city of Taormina was close. Had Mount Etna been in America, it would most likely have been a national park with restrictions on living proximity. Also, Sicily is renowned for its mountains but I had yet to seen a mountain covered in volcanic rock like Mount Etna. Given the geographical diversity of America, I can’t directly contrast the two places but Mount Etna reminded of Mount Lassen in California which had some volcanic fields.

Hiking Mount Etna was an exciting journey and I can’t wait to hike other places across the world. Even though the weather was not what we expected, nothing could have dampened what we saw on Etna.


Easy E checking out

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