Friday, March 6, 2009

The Volcano

The Volcano we hiked, Mount Bisoke is not active. The
Volcano in nearby Congo is. It erupted in 2002 and buried
a big part of the town. It was slow moving lava so most people
evacuated. It's possible to hike there and spend the night, and
see lava. When I went to Goma I half hoped to find some UN people
who were going to go do that and join them, but it didn't happen.

Bisoke has a lake down in the crater. When you get to the top
there are signs that forbid swimming. Methane gas is being
released into the lake and there are areas on the surface where
there is no oxygen. It's the same deal in Lake Kivu to the west.
People have died swimming in Lake Kivu. You also can't walk around
the rim as Bisoke crosses national boundaries, I think into Congo.
The hike was really tough. Age is starting to catch up with me - I
was the laggard of the group and in the end the decision was made
(with my acquiescence) that a porter would carry my backpack. I did
make it to the top fine. The previous day when visiting the gorillas
at 10K feet I could feel the altitude. For a few minutes I was a bit
lightheaded. Going up to 12K on the volcano I was fine, just slow.
Altitude affects people strangely that way. A guy on the hike
organizes tours up Kilimanjaro. He's been up seven times. The first
three and last three were fine. On the middle try he got altitude
sickness and he said "I thought I was going to die."

Since people like gorillas, I added a bunch more pics. There's
a nice picture of a silverback, though not the boss of the group.
According to the guides when the boss passes away, there will be
no primacy fight among the other three silverbacks. The ranking is
understood by all. The first picture is Mt. Karisimbi, taken from
the *top* of Bisoke. It goes 2500 feet higher than Bisoke! It's a
two day hike to the top.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the additional gorilla pictures;The guides must be acclamated to the heights,so it does not bother them;Now I understand why serious mountain climbers spend a few days at high altitudes to get their bodies adjusted to the thin air.
    Glad you are having fun,exploring the volcanoes,mountains,lakes etc.