Saturday, March 3, 2012

Turtle to Angahuan - Paricutin Volcano

We realized Patzcuaro is only a couple of hours north-east of the Paricutin Volcano, so even though it is a little out of our way, we thought it would be a shame not to head over to see it.  

I can't get over how much it looks like northern Ontario here.

Patzcuaro is at 6,800 feet above sea level, the trip to Angahuan had us going through Uruapan which is at 4,800.   We dropped 2,000 feet fast.   I'm not sure what the red line in the middle of the road means, but there were even flourescent bumps on either side of the line.    The highway even has the run away lanes for trucks when their brakes fail.

The change in pressure caused the air in this water bottle to compress, it reminds me of scuba diving.   


We didn't stop in Uruapan, but we made a wrong turn down a back road...another tight squeeze.   

From Uruapan it is a quick drive up to 7,600 feet to Angahuan, another native Perepecha town.  

From our campground we can see the steeple from the church in Paricutin that is buried in lava rock along with the town.    The Paricutin volcano can be seen in the background and is one of the seven wonders of the natural world.    Beginning in 1943 it erupted for 9 years, burying 2 towns.  

We were told it is a half hour hike down to the church from our campground, so we packed some water and headed down.    It took us 1 1/2 hours because we made a wrong turn.   We ended up walking all the way around to the back side of the town and found a road that led to the church.    This is truly something to see.   

This is inside a chamber that is almost completely buried under lava rock.   

This is the outside of the above chamber.

The church was still under construction when the volcana erupted.   This steeple was completed.

This steeple, from the other side of the church was not yet complete.   

The Perepecha have a small market set up just outside the area covered in lava.  

We thought we could hike up to the top of the volcano.   This was the only house we saw between the church and the summit trail leading up. 

This is a view of the steeple from the other side. 

After a short hike we came to this lava field.   In order to get to the volcano you have to cross it.   There was no chance Gerry and I could make it across this, so we headed back.    We learned later that you can take a horse to the base of the volcano, it is a two hour ride, then it takes another 40 minutes to climb to the top on foot.   
Gerry is demonstrating how deep the volcanic ash is in the area.    In many spots in the area it is as if you are walking on the beach...except the sand is black aash and it makes your feet very dirty.
We were struck with all the vegetation growing in the area.   


I grabbed this picture of Paricutin erupting in 1943 off the internet.   It is a fascinating story and I encourage you to look it up.    The volcano rose 1,391 feet out of a corn field over a 9 year period.   The first week it rose 5 stories and was 1,102 feet within the first year.    

We are both so exhausted after our 1 hour hike, which turned into a 2 1/2 hour hike down and up, down and up, down and up.    I fear we will both be crippled up for a couple of was worth it. 

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