Up Mount Etna

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Well, my 24-hour trip to Sicily went smoothly, and 24-hours later, I find myself as the only guest in a hotel at 6000 feet. This is very much the low period for hotels high up on the volcano; I guess I’m just lucky that I got a room at all.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Laura and Katherine picked me up at the Catania airport. Then we went to a place that served very yummy shaved ice you eat with a spoon and a piece of bread.

After dessert, it went Laura’s place (I really needed a shower after 4 different flights) and then met some of the professors from the course. We ate in a fascinating place that has a running underground stream in its basement that dates back several hundred years to the last big eruption. There was a stream there before the eruption, and it survived the lava, though underground. And the food was good. Probably the best gnocchi I’ve ever had.

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Today, I left Laura’s apartment and headed up hill, all of way up as far as road would take me: Etna Sud. I’m staying in a great place called Hotel Corsaro. I think I’m the only guest, and this place feels a little bit like The Shining.

Why does this hotel rock, you may ask? Well, after being turned away for dinner at Rifugio Sapienza (“we only serve guests at our hotel at out restaurant.” – crazy bad service – I mean, what part of “rifugio” do they not understand?), the nice guy working the desk opened there closed kitchen to make me a couple of sandwiches. Awesome!

I left Catania at 8 AM to start the long walk through Nicolosi and end up here, in this surreal place. I traveled through lots of tiny towns, a few forests misses by the most recent eruptions, and switchback after switchback, going higher with every step. By the afternoon, I had basically left shade behind, and it was me against the crumbling, black hill.

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All of the eruptions I walked through were pretty recent, within the past couple of decades.

I nearly ran out of water before I arrived at the hotel, and that would be a very bad thing, as there are no stores the past 14K or so, and it got steeper and steeper, and hotter and hotter.

Anyway, I made it, and my last shot of the day is the Silvestri crater just next to my hotel.

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I hope my blistered feet hold up for tomorrow’s attempt on the summit.

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