A Night on the Volcano

The volcano shadow at evening, taken from the refuge

The volcano shadow at evening, taken from the refuge

El Teide Refuge, Tenerife  Friday 5 April 2013

Pack rucksacks and take the bus up to the Teide cable Car. This journey emphasizes how much elevation there is between the coast and  the volcano, and how steep and far to the top. Our internet booking for the cable car is very useful as large queues  have formed – avoiding a wait of a couple of hours. It is possible to walk, but our research shows that this is a long hot and stony slog in increasingly thin air, so we pass on that one. Someone takes our photograph – we aren’t quite sure why and we step into the large cars, to watch the crater landscape become stranger and stranger as we ascend. leaving the cable car station behind. We enter a different world . It really is like a moonscape. Colours, strange formations the smell of sulphur. We walk toward Pico Viejo – the other volcano up there where the terrain is rough and bouldery and the altitude makes us breathless. By about 5 everyone has gone from the mountain, on the last cable car, and we are virtually alone on the volcano.
The volcano night guard takes a crate of provisions across to his little hut and we walk down to the refuge. The path is better going this way and we see steam coming from the top and sides of the volcano and every so often get a whiff of sulphur. There are snow fields, and it looks as though the path has only recently been opened. In the distance we can see the hut, perched on a small plateau, and a fair distance and descent from the cable car. Inside we find a small kitchen where 60 people will prepare meals, a dark woody interior and three rooms with bunks. The warden rules over us, telling us which bed to sleep in after making us wait until 7 pm for the news, during which time we make some pasta. Later we could watch the shadow of the volcano falling as a prefect triangle on the distant crater rim. We can’t get over the colours of the rock, red, purples, ochres, white, black and green. The stars look great but it is too cold and windy to linger out there long. Everyone is in bed by 10 pm. And so we lie, awake all night long, listening to the ambient music of bedsteads and trips to the toilet, and the snores, fantastic snores, so musical, so loud, so volcanic.

Some of the unusual volcanic rocks near the summit of Mount Teide, Tenerife

Some of the unusual volcanic rocks near the summit of Mount Teide, Tenerife

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