Watch out, it’s gonna blow!

If you’ve visited Saddle Mountain Hostel then you’ll know that the walls contain a photo gallery of our travels. The kitchen, though, has only photos of volcanoes and lava, but why?

It’s because we love volcanoes. It started with Helen. As a postgraduate she spent a few summers working on Mount Etna in Sicily, surveying the mountain with a party of vulcanologists. As it happens, Greg was on Sicily too during those summers, searching out gelato and ancient Greek ruins. When we met it was the first thing that we had in common. We ended up spending our honeymoon on Etna and Stromboli and this year we go back again for our twentieth anniversary.

During the intervening years we have seen all the volcanoes in Italy (Europe’s volcano hotspot) and have been working our way round the Pacific Ring of Fire. Overused word though it is, there is something genuinely awesome about a real volcano. They are mountains, which is a great start, and because of the lava they are usually bare of vegetation. That makes them look more dramatic and gives better views. The best ones will also have the classic cone shape. Only Helen has experienced an actual eruption (on Etna) but there is always the thought that just maybe the one you are standing on could go off soon. We have actually been on the summits of two Chilean volcanoes which have since had major eruptions.

Lower down the slopes, there is often the chance to relax in hot springs. That was one of the unexpected pleasures of a trip a few years ago to the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, USA. They are a beautiful long chain of volcanoes going right up the spine of the state – lots of great walking and not at all busy when we went in September (see our blog photo).

Sadly, we don’t make it to a volcanic range every year, but there are always the movies. We are suckers for a terrible volcano disaster movie, and there are an awful lot more of them than you would think (thank you Syfy Channel!). Hollywood has also tried its hand at times, with Dante’s Peak and Volcano (tagline “The coast is toast”). It’s not the same as the real thing but it will have to do until we get our next fix!

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