Showing posts with label Aeolian Islands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aeolian Islands. Show all posts

21 September 2013

Stromboli - The volcanic adventure continues


Our visit to the island of Stromboli was for one purpose and one purpose only.  To climb it and see the much anticipated lava spurts of a still active volcano.

The island IS the volcano and has 2 small villages built into the mountain side on the opposite side of the crater,  There are signs throughout the island that inform on the actions to take incase of eruption and/or tsunami and the islanders live their lives day to day in the shadow of a lava spurting monster.  Will there be another major eruption, well yes of course their will be, no one knows when...........Behind our little apartment the puffs of smoke every 20 mins or so constantly reminded you of its presence.

We had paid to climb the mountain with a guided tour as its not permitted to venture up there without a guide but we didnt get off to a great start having been given the wrong time to arrive at the starting point and then having to rush up the fairly steep path to catch up with the group ahead.  The first 20/30 mins of the walk was at a fair pace and in the heat and with the steepness of the path I was just about done in before we'd even really started.  When we'd finally caught up with the group we found they were mainly American with one particular loud mouthed chap who never shut up but talked at a level that all 20 of us could hear.  A bit boastful about his work, the places he'd visited but he was a great distraction from the relentless march up the side of the mountain.  Stromboli is about the hight of Snowdon and we started at sea level.  I've climbed Snowdon a couple of times now but never at this pace and never in this heat.  It was a challenge.
We made several stops on route, one to taste some figs from a bush that was growing at the side of the path.  I found them delicious (albeit minus the nice bit of melted brie that would have made them perfect) but Chris didnt like them at all really.

The light was beginning to fade and just before the final path to the summit we stopped and layered up before the last of the sun dissapeared behind the horizon.  The last part of the walk would be in darkness and beyond the peak we could already see the rising smoke coming from the crater and the low gutteral boom of the lava spurts.  The boom was something that got you right in your chest.  It was a noise that meant danger but exciting, a noise that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and I only wish I'd taken a recording of it as it was quite indescribable.

Arriving at the top we sat in rows on the top of the mountain and there in front of us was the crater with the sparks, smoke and frequent lava spurts of course always accompanied with that boom.  It was mesmerising and you really had to pinch yourself to remind yourself where you were and what your eyes were witnessing.  This is not a sight I'll ever forget as long as I live.

We sat there for the best part of an hour watching the show in front of our eyes.  All to quickly it was time to head down.  The path down was a different one to the one we'd come up.  Head torches guiding our way it was a steep march down in quite deep black sand which was being scooped by the bucketload into our boots as we walked.  There was a guide at the front of the group and one at the back and before long the 20 of us were split up over quite a distance.  The lead guide just took off like a rocket and it was quite hard work to keep up.   There were a few people behind us who fell and just couldnt keep up and by the time we arrived back at the start point in the village we could still see the head torches of people still quite a way up the mountain.  A harrowing descent but we got back safely.

After a lovely meal of pizza it took us quite a time to come down from the adrenalin rush that was our Stromboli trek.  A trip to remember and worth every penny, even if our guides weren't the best the experience was amazing............

15 September 2013

Vulcano - Craters and Sulphar

Having landed on the island of Vulcano a few days into our Italian Adventure the towering peak stood proudly behind our hotel and was just begging to be climbed.  At random moments of the day you could see plumes of sulphur escaping from different bit of the mountain and I couldn't wait to get up there so we could see the crater for ourselves.
So off we set, up the clearly marked path that wound its way up the hill.  Every 100mtrs or so there was a sign letting you know how far you had to go.  It was early so we practically had the path to ourselves which was a blessing as the early morning ferries bringing people to the island for their own walk up the hill hadnt yet arrived.

The path was easy and the best bit was the opening views up behind us.  All the local islands were now on view and we could clearly see all the way over to Stromboli which was another volcano on our list.  As usual and with the heat of the day rising there were plenty of flies so it was best to keep moving as when you stood still they tended to swarm.

In less than an hour we were at the top of the path and at the southern end of the crater.  It was here we could see just how prominent the sulphur plumes were and the gases were escaping from most of the crater rim and bowl.  The smell was incredible, rotten eggs and not a pleasant smell at all.  I guess you get used to it but in some places it was really overpowering.

So we made our way up to the right to follow the path up round the rim and back down the other side.  There seemed to be more people about now and several paths showing different routes on different parts of the hill.

There were 2 routes really to chose from to get us down.  1 was through the sulphur field which was the one Chris too and the other was a path that took you down a little away from the sulphar which was the one I chose.  Never the less I was still able to capture Chris on his suphuric journey down the mountain side and he mentioned it was smelly and a bit hot...........ewwwww!
Up and down in a couple of hours and before the heat of the day and the hoards of tourists that were now clambering up the sides spoiled our day. It was a good call to go early and a truely spectacular experience.