Sea to Summit: Featuring Ice Cream, Lava, and Ladybugs

This morning was one like no other I’ve lived before.  I woke up before 8:00am, ate ice cream for breakfast, and then took a bus from the beach to the top of a 11,000ft volcano.  I know what you are probably thinking, “Ice cream?  For breakfast?!  You can’t be serious!”  But no, no, I shamefully admit it’s true – almond flavored to be exact.  However, thank God I was off to hike around the summit of an active volcano, or else the ice cream could have really upset the normal flow of my daily life.

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This was in fact the first live volcano I had ever visited.  And I’m not going to lie…wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped to be.  Never before did I think I’d be standing a few hundred away from the edge of an active volcano and the only thought running through me head would be, “do more.”  With my camera in hand, I prayed that the steaming bluff would at the very least hiccup for me.  Half for the picture and a story, and half because if the molten earth did happen to find my feet…at least I wouldn’t have to re-board that bus.

I think that my graphic below perfectly represents my expectations versus the realities of my volcano visit:

volcAs childish as it may be, I was hoping for, and expecting, a private tour through the gates of Mordor with a picnic on Mount Doom.  I don’t know though.  I call it an adventurous spirit, the rest of the world calls stupidity.  But whatever it is, I wanted to see some lava.

My father came too - dressed to impress

My father came too – dressed to impress

There was some good in the experience though…seriously.  Three things, actually.  The first is that I now know what it is like on Mars – the place was desolate.  As you can see in the pictures.  There is truly nothing but charcoal colored lava rock.  Light, porous, and as sharp as razors.  For thousands of yards down, around, and all the way to the summit there was nothing but black.  Naturally this made for exciting photo opportunities.

0A9A8815The second was that just inches beneath the surface, on top of this earthy cauldron and under the summer sun, was a few million tuns of ice.  During the winter the volcano is elevated enough to receive snow – and if fact there are lifts in place for skiers.  However, at some point the volcano had erupted during the winter and covered the ice in a layer of ash, which insulates the ice from the heat, never allowing it to melt.

Snow glaciers in the distance - each approximately 12ft tall

Snow glaciers in the distance – each approximately 12ft tall

And lastly, out of all the creatures a person could imagine that would inhabit this barren highland, I was shocked to discover the one I did.  It wouldn’t have been my last guess – because it wouldn’t have even been a guess.  But the critter than in fact calls this place home is the ladybug.  Yup, ladybugs.  Strange, right?  And I don’t mean that I saw just one or two.  Every single rock I flipped over held a small cluster of them on its under belly, shielding them from the hot sun.  I was particularly excited to find the ladybugs up here though.  The reason being that their colorful body contrasted beautifully with the landscape.

A group of lady bugs on the Volcano

A group of lady bugs on the Volcano

A ladybug finds home in the porous rock

A ladybug finds home in the porous rock

-Sepp

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