I once climbed the cone of an active volcano at night. Back when I was a teenager. Specifically, during the summer of 1968 before I started my senior year in high school (which I hated, by the way).
I was participating in the Amigos de las Americas, which was a medical charity that provided free inoculations for villagers in Honduras and Guatemala. Most of the volunteers were high-school students. (Don't ask me how I was allowed to participate. I couldn't even speak Spanish!
) I was sent to Guatemala, where I ended up staying with staff personnel at the town of Jutiapa on a Guatemalan Army base.
One night we all went out to climb the cone of an active volcano. Being as dumb as I was at that point in my life, I didn't think to bring along a camera!
When we had arrived at our destination, we first climbed up a steep hill that was covered with dense underbrush. Half the time I couldn't see where I was stepping. Soon I got stung by something, but it wasn't serious. Like I said, I -- no, I take that back -- we
were quite stupid. One of us could have been bitten by a snake if our luck hadn't been good. The climb was a strenuous one.
Eventually we reached an area where the ground leveled off quite abruptly. I still remember the gritty feel of the ground beneath our feet. Might have been pumice.
About seven yards ahead of us, the ground dipped about three or four feet; and the incline of the volcanic cone began at that point. We intended to climb all the way to the top of the ridge so we could look down inside; but, thankfully, we eventually decided to not do that. That was something that actually made me nervous.
I said the volcano was active. At one point on the cone, there was an opening of some kind where lava spewed out like water shooting up in a park fountain. A gnarled dead tree stood against this background of bright orange while behind us was the darkness of night, the lights of Jutiapa lit in the far distance away from us. Truly a bizarre sight!
I have regretted since that I didn't think to bring a camera, but at least I didn't get bit by a snake!