Saturday 18 February 2012

There and back again

It was a great day today, on our guided walk up on the mountain. Not so good to be down on the ground, which was hidden from us by a carpet of cloud, the earthlings scuttling around down there in the gloom and chill, while we were up with the gods in the sun under a blue sky that still wasn't as gorgeously colourful as the crater lake, in all its turquoise, hot, PH 1 glory.

I especially appreciated its colour after toiling hard for about 2 hours from the top of the chairlift, over violently splintered rock and smooth glacier-striated boulders all the way to the crater rim - a bleak, barren, stark landscape that was Mordor through and through: black and brown and ochre, with drifting steam that stank of sulphur. We heard about some of the drama up here, soldiers frozen to death, a tramper losing a leg when the volcano erupted in the night and a boulder landed on him where he lay asleep in Dome Hut, climbers fleeing down the slope and disappearing inside an ash-cloud. It wasn't till we were on our way down that the guide told me about 'blue-sky eruptions', that occur with no warning whatsoever, making a bit of a mockery of the GPS sensor systems that have been set up.

What I didn't appreciate was the usual reaction at the start to Ryan's saying, "Now, it's not a race," which was followed by a surge of flying boots up the mountain, while I panted behind, further delayed by stopping for photos and information. It's always the same. And this time, when we got back down again, someone said, "Wow, 2.30! You made good time - some groups don't get back till 4 o'clock." Pisses me off, actually, me who goes tramping to enjoy the scenery, novel idea though that clearly is.
On another note entirely, I was diverted by the top hat, waistcoat and flares get-up of this chap, who turned out to be a German journeyman carpenter with a taste for the traditional, doing a world tour in his attention-getting uniform. And he's from Frankfurt!

1 comment:

Brazil Adventures said...

I was going to comment on the beautiful scenery, but I got distracted by the top hat. There's nothing better in the world than a top hat, especially if there's mountain scenery in the background.


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