Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fire in the Night Sky

A beautiful sight in the night.
One of the highlights of a visit to Port Resolution is the trip up to the rim of Mount Yasur volcano. And I mean to the rim! There are no fences holding you back! While the volcano itself is an experience, the actual trip to it is one of a kind! Those of you who have done it will be smiling at the memory!

Unfortunately, the volcano tour was cancelled on the first night due to heavy rain. It rained most of the time in Tanna this year. In fact, it seems that WARC 2015 has had a lot of rain on their route. El Nino effect? Fortunately, we have not, so this was the first real socked-in rain we have seen while enroute. We had rain in port in New Zealand, but that was more tolerable because we could get in the car and go to the movie or shopping.
Sixteen of us in one pickup truck!
Since some boats wanted to move along, they were willing to take the volcano tour in a lighter rain the second night. However, we were told it wasn’t worth it because it was too slippery and cloudy that they really didn’t see anything wonderful. And they looked miserable upon their return! We waited an extra day for the tour and it was worth it.

High on the lower ridge before dark.
The only problem was that there were supposed to be two transport vehicles and only one showed up. Werry, the owner of the yacht club, was our driver and he was really mad at the person who failed to show. We couldn’t understand words, but we could understand the emotion in his phone conversation! As a result, we piled six women in the cab of his pickup (it was a double cab) and two women and eight men in the back of it!

A view from the lower ridge
That is only half of it! The “road” to the volcano is a 4.5 mile two-wheel track up and down the mountain and full of ruts and holes. Add to that scene the heavy rainfall filling the ruts and making it very slippery. Needless to say, it was a very rough ride – especially for those in the back. There was nothing for them to hang on to and they had to dodge low hanging branches. At times, I felt like we were going to tip over when Werry was trying to avoid deep ruts and washout areas. I can’t imagine what it was like in the back. Somehow, we made it there and back in one piece, but all of us had numerous bruises and pains!

Dante, as in Dennis, ...
The discomfort was well worth it once we got to the top of the volcano. It was a steep climb up and quite slippery. Dennis and I separated as I didn’t think I could make it up to the higher rim. But when everyone else left me, I decided to give it a try. Except for one very muddy area when I fell and slid down a short distance, I made it to the top – but only because several people helped me. Every time I tried to get up, I slid further down so a couple of the gals helped me get up and then a sweet Frenchman, Victor, from one of the yachts, held my arm until we got to the top. Unfortunately, my bad leg did not want to cooperate in this climbing exercise and I felt like a really old lady!!!
The view from the higher ridge
The volcano is a double cauldron so one side would fire up and explode with a bang, then the other. Against the night sky, it made a spectacular sight. The wind was very strong up there and was blowing us toward the cauldrons. At times, I felt like I was going to be lifted off the ground! We were only three feet from the downhill slope into the cauldron because the ridge was very narrow. Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out up there because I had taken so many photos of the children earlier in the day. Oh, well.

The ride back to the yacht club was just as nerve-racking and uncomfortable as the one up to the volcano, but at least those of us in the cab warmed up. We were all happy to disembark the pickup truck and get back on solid ground. That was enough for a long day.

This is what we saw as we sailed away from Tanna the
next morning on our way to Erromango

Later we learned from sailors who went to Mt. Yasur the next night that it had blown large boulders out of the crater into the parking lot after we left! That is what happened in Hawaii, too. We had been at the volcano during the day and after dinner, then just hours after we left, it blew! It has been closed to visitors since. Is it us?

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