Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sea Kayak and Volcano Trekking

In three intense days me and Charlie paddled along the lava cliffs of the Catania coast and climbed on the top of the highest active volcano of Europe: Mount Etna.
The first day, paddling 15 km of black cliffs, from Catania to the protected area of Acitrezza's archipelago, was relatively easy despite the 35° Celsius and the high humidity, close to 90%.
Than, the meeting was at 5:00 am, and we started to walk with our backpack and mountain boots at 7:00 am from 1741 meters a.s.l.. Following the 1928 lava flow, the landscape change from the birch woods to the grasslands and than to the volcanic desert. Except us, only few ladybugs are here.

With surprise the smoking summit craters were sprayed with snow and we reached the top (3300 meters a.s.l.) after five hours of hard trekking. On the crater rim we finally hear some loud explosions and we can sense the depth of the pit.
Before we reached the summit the clouds started to pile over the south flank and on our way down hail and lightning started to fall. Reached the old rim of the Ellittico Caldera we started to run down into a canyon with a sandy bottom, the lightning touching the rocky ridges...

The third day we have 20 km to paddle but despite the heavy humidity it is like playing after the effort of the climb. We just start the day with an almond granita with brioche, a sicilian classic breakfast, and we finish with eating in the same place some salty food. In the middle there is paddling, swimming in a sea spring cold water, more paddling and a lovely break with a plunge in the past in the fisherman village of Santa Maria La Scala.