The lovely little town of Garachico should have known better than to set up underneath a volcano with a name as ominous as “Black Mountain”. In 1707, they found out why. La Montaña Negra erupted, and as the lava flowed downhill to the ocean, the town was almost completely destroyed. And right now, you might be thinking, Mike and Jürgen should know better than to hike around a volcano with such an ominous name… but we did anyway. Would we survive?! Find out the thrilling conclusion later in this post!
A Landscape of Striking Contrasts
Alright, yeah, we survived. And better than that, we had an extraordinary day out. Three hundred years might be a handful of human lifetimes, but it’s nothing in a geological sense, and we walked through some bizarre, lava-strewn landscapes, unlike any other we’d seen. It was a day of contrasts, with pitch-black rocks against the pale green of fledgling pine trees fighting for life, with the Teide looming in the background, and the conical Montaña Negra as a centerpiece.
The hike started from a recreative area called Arenas Negras (“black sands”). The road to the parking area was so poor, though, that we pulled over and parked over a kilometer away from Arenas Negras. The extra hiking wasn’t actually a bad thing, as the area was forested and already beautiful. And it was cool to emerge from the tree line, into the picnic area, where the lush forest immediately gave way to a lifeless landscape with a small, black mountain as its centerpiece.
We needed probably three hours to complete this hike, and could have extended it to include a loop around the mountain of Chinyero, just to the south. The trail was wonderful and surprisingly varied — taking us into the pines, and then up and around magnificent and bizarre collections of volcanic rocks.
A Reminder of the Earth’s Power
All too often, we think of the Earth as our kind and patient protector; a provider of life, and an all-knowing, benevolent mother. But walking around a place like Montaña Negra is a stark reminder that Momma Earth has unimaginable power at her fingertips, the slightest release of which can utterly destroy us, our towns, and all our great works. Stumbling around the cooled wreckage of her wrath is a humbling experience.