Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hike on the rooftop of Sicily; 10000 feet above sea level

Sunday morning we had planned to take a short hike on Mt Etna and watch the sun rise. We began our hike across the lava, along the flattened area where the 4WD buses transport tourists to the top of the volcano. It was early and we were the only souls around. The moment was perfect!

Evidence of the 2002 eruption. This eruptive fracture destroyed the area Piano Provenzana at the base of the mountain. Tourist attractions including skiing and hiking were completely wiped out. I can remember my first trip to Etna, back in 2003, when the streets were closed off by a massive river of lava. Years of hard work have now brought this area back to life . The Ski slopes are active again and all the streets have been rebuilt.

From below it looks as if all the snow has melted. However, the mountain is still covered with thick icy snow just covered with a layer of ash.

We later gave up our first idea of taking a short hike just to watch the sunrise. We were now on our way to the top!
The 9th of June starts the 4° edition of one of the greatest Sicilian running events: The Etna marathon. While hiking our way we encountered a few men preparing for the The Etna marathon, a distance that goes from 0 to 3,000 meters of height. Beginning at the beach of Marina di Cottone (Fiumefreddo) and finishing 3000 meters high at the North-east crater of the volcano. I can't even imagine... This year we will be there to see this event. They run right through our town!

This was the last bit of vegetation before the climb crossing the ash desert.

There she is!
This is the "Bottoniera", a composed volcanic formation similar to the buttons on a shirt. It is composed of 25 craters that were created during the eruption of 2002.

We met a few friends along the way. Here, Antonello sits and chats with his new friend Mario, who just happens to be from Riposto.
When we arrived at the "Belvedere", it was possible to observe from a panoramic point the famous and huge volcanic depression "Valle del Bove" caldera's rim (7x5 Km).

The sights from here were amazing. Unfortunately, my camera was always to slow to catch the eruption, but we witnessed the fire shooting out from the crack of the earth. The lava flows down into the "Valle del Bove".
We must make another trek in the evening for that is when the lava's piercing flames are evident.

The red is where the eruption is happening right now. Above there are the four main craters.
My camera could not capture the view clearly, but in the distance we could even see the eolian islands, Catania gulf, Taormina, Peloritani mountains, and Milazzo in the distance.

Whenever we would drive up to the mountain, from the car I would always see a little white speck in the distance at the top of the mountain. And now, here I am standing right next to it! This is the Observatory. Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia Osservatorio di Pizza Deneri, quoto 2820 m s.l.m

Ariel view of the craters.
In a place black and barren, without any sign of life, there was one thing that I did see. Ladybugs were everywhere??
Our decent was a pleasure! We were stopping along the way as other hikers inquired how much further it was to reach the top.
We did it!


Scintilla said...

Wow, I can imagine the silence up there. Its amazing you found ladybugs on the volcanic rock!

chiara76 said...

Gosh, such a bog experience!:)
I added some photos from Paris on my blog if you want to see them you can visit it. Greetings from Warsaw;)

Martin said...

We live on Gozo. We can see Etna on really clear days. We plan to go there someday. Great Blog :)

Jilli said...

Scintilla- I know, wild to see them everywhere!

Chiara- It was amazing! I'll have to check out your pics from Paris.

Martin- Thanks for stopping by! I had no idea Etna could be seen from over there? We have a few friends in Malta, and I plan on taking a hop over there soon... Try to stay cool!