The initial ascent seems a bit uneventful with nicely manicured trail ways and little incline. That changes as you complete about and hour of of the hike and while the incline was still not much concern the ground cover now begs your constant attention as you tread your way upwards. A forested, almost jungle-like trail breaks open to an everlasting hardened volcanic flow. It’s easy to envision a red hot flow here merely 50 years earlier – the year I was born in fact. Then you disappear back into the forest, the trail narrows and turns with more regularity as it winds around trees that survived hundreds of years and emerging rock and volcano. Don’t blink or you will trip on something. Then again, and again, we cross gigantic volcanic rock – more hardened lava flows. After a couple hours the trail applies a more intensified angle of ascent and slows our progress. Many points are careful grinds up nearly vertical inclines, leveraging roots, small rock ledges, and my trusty climbing sticks to make my way up. I questioned if I needed all of my camera gear in my back pack. I hear my climbing partner slip and grunt from time to time, I miss a few myself. It isn’t getting easier. After more than 4 hours we arrive at a small shelter, nothing much but it’s a break for some lunch. We ascend further and the terrain turns to mostly volcanic rock and glacier snow. Our hired mountaineer rips across rock ledges like a mountain goat, we stop and then gingerly make our way behind him. After another hour we sit on a rock ledge looking down over miles of terrain, now observing the many lava flows from atop. Reaching down I can grab a handful of refreshing water that is flowing from the glacier melt. Here is awesome. Here is where only a small number of people on earth get to go. If you can – do it.