Awesome! …a word that has become trivialized from overuse.
Yet an enthusiast of national parks expects a certain amount of “awesome.” Each park ought to possess its own special features. When it isn’t on fire, Mount Etna boasts “height and wind.”
Height: Destination UP! Rifugio Sapienza’s cable way, the funivia, provides a pleasant ride for the first leg of the journey. Then makeshift byways, flattened around hills of black-brown ash and rock, lead even further up!
Your teenage nephew, clad in flip flops, urges your group to walk the remainder of the way. Walk? Saner heads eye the Unimog vehicles – buses on monster-truck-sized wheels – and the route ahead. Teenage nephew, overruled!
Ascending by Unimog, a wide-open landscape unfolds, concluding at a half-mile trail. The broad vista is outlined by the distant hazy sea. Not a single tree or shrub or even a blade of grass is in sight! Other Unimogs chug below, impossibly far off.
Wind: The trail features some volcano-warmed vents; fun to lean over! But the wind! Forceful and commanding, one feels diminished in it. A startling gust whisks your nine-year-old’s red cap off, up, and down the mountainside: gone, swallowed into the ashy slope.
Clinging together on a post, as if for neighborly support, is a cluster of ladybugs. Ladybugs, at 8,200 feet elevation?