We’re Stupid, but Adventurous

we were sitting at a cafe in Motta and Billy (my co-worker) asked if i had ever climbed etna. now, Billy was a BUDS (SEAL training) washout and Brian worked for security and was looking to go to BUDS when he left italy. next thing you know, we were driving to mt etna at 11 in the afternoon.

we each had a litre of water, i had my jump bag which is set up to handle being outside for 3-4 days. we were hiking up the mountain and 7 hours later, we reached the crater. now, i had been told by numerous locals to NEVER lean into the crater to look. the sulfuric gas would make you pass out and you’d fall into the crater.

now, if you have a penis this translated into “look over the border of the crater!!!!!”. of course, we aren’t totally stupid, Billy looked at us and said, “ok, you guys hold onto my sides and pull me up if i pass out.”

yeah. and we were totally fine with that plan.

Billy laid on his belly and slowly looked into the crater and let out a, “OOOOOH” and turned his head away. me and Brian were holding on to his arms and side of his jeans and he visibly jumped when the scent hit him. we each took turns looking into the crater then we explored the top of the mountain for the next hour. soon, Brian made mention of heading back down.


it was a good 3-4 hour hike down and the sun was already getting low. my inner louisiana boy kicked in and said, “dude, we’ll never make it down in time and we’ll be stuck in the woods with no daylight. we’re better off up here.” being stuck overnight in unfamiliar woods is a BAD idea if you can avoid it. we were in a clearing, and surrounded by forest. i told Billy to gather wood for a fire, and i was going to get some food. i tasked Brian with setting up a camp. he was from idaho and also grew up outdoors.

i ended up running down 2 rabbits, and billy was working on the fire. i had given him some kindling (dryer lint) and the fire starting kit in my jump bag. i showed him how to make a fire bow and soon enough, we had fire. i KNEW it was going to be chilly on the mountain so a fire was key.

we had a fire, we had 2 rabbits, and we had enough water for all of us. me being the smallest of the 3, i ate a fore quarter of one rabbit and left the rest for the Billy and Brian. i ate and gathered more wood for the fire and Billy helped Brian finish the lean to (hit the link up via Jack’s site).

soon were were embraced by the night sky, had noses full of sulphur, a slight headache, and were exchanging stories of our youth. tales of outdoors bravery and well, stupidity. i’m amazed i’m still alive. you could ask my mother how many times i should have died and she’ll exhale and have a look of complete exasperation on her face.

boys do dumb shit. we usually only see the turn in front of us, not the road ahead. that night proved it. sure it was great watching the lava shoot into the sky. but at the same time-


it never crossed our minds. it was cool to be outside. we were battling nature. we were men.

and we were fucking stupid.

i’d NEVER do something like that again. i was so fucking bereft of sanity regarding our situation that it’s ridiculous. i was also the oldest, and militarily, the most senior. we broke camp around 8am and made it down around 4 hours later. we stopped at a tratorria back in motta and laughing about the previous night. Billy was amazed i found 2 rabbits. the waiter asked us what were talking about and i explained how we’d spent the night on top of mount etna.

he looked at us like our heads were on fire.

“are you crazy”, he asked. “you could’ve been killed up there. never go up mount etna without an expert.” we just laughed and said we had a good time, that we all knew enough to make it for one night out in the wild. he looked us over and muttered, “americani estupido” (stupid americans) and walked away.

billy and Brian didn’t speak italian, but they knew exactly what he’d said. we all laughed and sipped our coffees.

stay up.