The images and videos I saw this week of the eruption of the Villarica volcano, with flames shooting into the air and red-hot lava pouring down the slopes, brought back memories of our family's hike to the crater of the then-dormant volcano during a vacation to Chile over the school winter holidays period in 2005-2006. It was one of the great outdoors experiences we have had together, hiking from about 6000 feet to near the 9350 foot summit, then coming down partly on foot, partly sliding on our butts.
We came to the area by an overnight bus from Santiago, where we were staying with family members who were teaching in a local school, to the village of Villarica. There we signed on with a guiding company that would help us get to the top of the mountain. The guides supplied us with snowsuits, in which we posed together before setting off for our adventure
And here is a view of other hikers above us (there were several different groups on the mountain), and the puffing from the crater above them.
Sometimes, instead of gentle white smoke/steam coming from the top, we would see a more ominous brown puff.
Here is Nancy pausing to look up just before we did the last couple hundred feet of elevation game to the summit -- or, at least, the part of the summit that we would be reaching, at the lip of the crater.