Ok, it’s one thing to tell me we’re going hiking, but it’s another to tell me we’re going hiking on top of a snow-covered, ACTIVE volcano. It’s called Volcán Villarica, and it is in central Chile. I was excited to go. I was interested to see this marvel. So many contrasts in one place, and we were on our way there. As we were in the van, we passed by several beautiful places. There was a lake where the water looked like a mirror. It was almost black, but you could see a clear reflection. Then there was another small lake with a waterfall. I rolled down the window so I could hear the tranquil sounds. So peaceful!

I started to feel a little chill, so I knew we were getting close. Five minutes later, we stepped out of the van onto a dirt path at the foot of the volcano. A lady named Angela was there to greet us. She was our guide, and she also had the coolest Chilean accent! We all hung onto her every word. Angela started walking us up the trail and telling us about the Volcán Villarica. She said it’s about the size of Mount Saint Helens in Washington State. It’s also only one of four volcanoes that have an active stream of lava inside. That means when there is an eruption, the lava shoots out of the top and melts some of the snow. And the lava also causes rainstorms from the sulfur ash going into the atmosphere. Pretty interesting, huh?

Snow covered Volcán Villarica

As she was talking, I heard a crunch, so I looked down at my feet. Apparently we’d gotten far enough up the mountain to reach the snow. Angela kept talking, and we kept trekking up the volcano. I could see a sulfur cloud coming out the top of the volcano. The cloud appeared to be getting closer and closer, and the climb was getting steeper and steeper. When I looked back, I could see for MILES in every direction!

Finally, after hours of walking, we arrived at the moment of truth . . . the cone. I was debating if I was actually going to look down at the lava or admire it from afar. One by one, everyone else peered down a hole. I was a little nervous; with my luck, I would get hit by steam be bald like Andy. But I mustered up the courage to creep forward and look down. I took a quick peek and jumped back. That’s all I needed to see! From what I saw it looked like someone cut out the center of a mountain and poured in a little circle of orange liquid. It was pretty cool, but it was cold. So we hiked back down and went to get hot cocoa.

Volcán Villarica crater