Home » 2017 Blog post » Takeaways from Hiking Mount Etna

Takeaways from Hiking Mount Etna

Posted by on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in 2017 Blog post, Blog posts.

Hiking Mount Etna was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. When I saw a hike on the syllabus, I was expecting an easy, leisurely walk around the volcano. When our guide appeared on our bus with a warm hat, mittens, a rain jacket, and walking sticks, however, I realized that the hike was going to be more intense than I originally expected. I have been lucky enough to travel a fair share during my life and hike some great trails. In America, I’ve hiked in the Rockies, on the Appalachian Trail, and through smaller mountain ranges in the Southeast, but none of those experiences prepared me for what we experienced on Sunday. When I hiked these mountains, I was hiking through trees on dirt and gravel under blue skies. Mount Etna challenged me with her unique terrain and weather conditions. As our guide mentioned on our bus ride up to our starting point, Mount Etna experiences a wide variety of climates between its base and the craters that occupy its summit. Our guide explained that the weather is so diverse that essentially every kind of crop can grow on the volcano! During our 3-hour hike, we got to experience some of the variety of weather on the volcano. We went from rain, to (brief) sunny skies, to sleet, to hail, to 45 mph winds, and back to rain as we made our way up the volcano and across lava flows to one of the craters. As we hiked, we admired the striking scenery created by the volcano’s 2002 eruption. Extensive fields of black rocks and sand dominated the volcano’s terrain, and we even saw the remains of a hotel that was destroyed by the eruption. I’m not sure what I expected a volcano hike to look like, but the scenery and conditions that we experienced certainly defied my expectations. Because of the hike, I gained a much greater appreciation for the power of volcanoes and the force behind volcanic activity (especially because I’ve never seen any of the volcanoes in the U.S).


The most memorable part of the hike was reaching the crater. At this point in the hike we were completely exposed to the wind, so many of us huddled on the ground to avoid being knocked over! Despite the dirt that made its way into my hair, eyes, nose, and mouth, I still loved every second of my time on the crater and throughout the rest of the hike. Yes, the conditions were arguably miserable, but that did not change the fact that I was lucky enough to be hiking the highest, most active volcano in Europe.


The past two weeks here in Sicily have flown by; it is hard to believe that we’re more than halfway done with our Maymester! I have learned to appreciate every moment during my short, action-packed time here, and hiking Etna was definitely one of the highlights. If I take nothing else away from my study abroad experience, I hope to take this seize-every-moment mentality back with me to the States.

Lava flow

Sunny skies


Wind on top

Hotel ruins

Comments are closed.