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Hiking Mt. Etna at Night

March 29, 2017

Mt Etna holds a special place in my heart and although I also love visiting the volcano at night, it is only when I can join some friends and not go alone that I enjoy  its nocturnal beauty.  On the evening of my last last daytime excursion up Mt Etna, I joined some friends and their children for a night time hike up the volcano. At that time,  Mt Etna had been erupting for several days and we decided to hike up an area that would allow to see the lava flowing at night if the eruption were still taking place.

After consulting with experts of the area, the decision was made to head towards Monte Vetore, a mountain formed by a past eruption, at a point which would offer a view of the spot where the recent eruption had been taking place.  That night, the eruption was not taking place, but the hike and the whole experience was well worth the trip!!!

We drove through some back roads known by my friends and arrived at Strada Provinciale, SP, 92, which is the main road that leads from the town of Nicolosi, on the Southern part of My Etna to the Cable Car, Funivia dell’Etna.  At the 14th Km point on this SP 92 we parked on the side of the road where it split.  At this point, on the left hand side is Monte Vetore.  The hike up this mountain from the point where we parked  was approximately 30 minutes; our goal was to reach its highest spot, its dormant crater.  That night the ground was covered in snow and the moon’s reflection on the snow created a wonderful light to lead our way.  We were carrying flash lights, but at one point, we decided to turn them off and let Mother Nature lead our path.

Before reaching the top of Mount Vetore, during the climb up, we walked by an Observatory, the Astrophysics Observatory.  This is a good landmark for anyone trying to make sure they are on the correct path.  Shortly after the beginning of the hike, we ran into a picnic table and benches and stopped to eat our snack.  Then, slowly, we walked up the side of the mountain.  After reaching the top, the crater, we decided to walk around the perimeter of the crater  returning to the side of the mountain we had hiked.  We looked over to the side where the eruption had taken place earlier that week but saw no action, no eruption taking place.

After enjoying the feeling of being wrapped up by the stillness of the night mountain air  and the magical lights cast among the trees by the moon, we decided it was time to walk down to our starting point, close to our parked car.   Upon reaching the final point, close to the car, we sat on the wall along the road to take in one last view of this beauty of Nature.  What we did not expect was to suddenly see a flash of light, a squirt of lava coming out of the mountain adjacent to us.  Yes, right there, the spot we had expected to find the eruption if it had taken place.  There were two lovely children in our group, one seven and the other eight years old.  When that squirt of lava just made its appearance disappearing in just a few instants, one of the children exclaimed: “See!  Mt Etna wanted to say Hello to us and sent out a squirt of lava!”

What an exciting feeling and we all were so glad we got a glimpse of the lava!  After returning home that night I could not take out of my mind the feeling that had arisen from such a beautiful experience.  I plan to return to nighttime excursions on Mt Etna in the future, but the memory of that special excursion on Mt Etna, guided by the moon through the forest, will stay with me for a very long time!!

 

 

 

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