So exciting! Today, we go up Volcan Pacaya. It erupted the week before we came and flights were cancelled. Thank God, everything settled down and we had no problem flying in. I start wheezing as we begin the 1 1/2 hour ascent, so I get a horse for Q100 ($12.50). A group member calls me, “Princess” as I’m the only one riding. I tell Two-Hats Tom to leave me alone, I’m still on meds for an upper respiratory infection!
My horse, Valente, brings up the rear of the tour. His handler stops often along the trail to break off a leaf here, a bloom there, and explains how locals gather resources from the forest. His English is better than the park assigned guide’s.
There’s a constant vapor cloud. We’re not allowed to climb up to the rim, though I’ve seen pictures of people near its lava flows.
Recent eruptions give locals concern as Pacaya sits on a magma chamber, making it very unstable. It produces hundreds of explosions each day, causing more lava to flow down.
A 1961 eruption was unexpected and lasted almost a month! In 1962, a collapse near the volcan’s summit, possibly caused by a volcanic vent, resulted in a pit crater.
Pacaya’s 2010 eruption was so powerful that it caused the main cone to collapse. The volcan is listed at 8,373 ft., but I don’t know if it was re-calculated after that event.
More Pacaya information can be seen at: www.volcanodiscovery.com/pacaya.html, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacaya and volcano.oregonstate.edu/pacaya.
More shots of our hike: http://www.qwiki.com/v/j3JT6pga
In the afternoon, we take a slow tour at a local cafe finca (coffee farm).