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Gorely Volcano's trek imageGorely Volcano's trek

Breakfast. Pack your overnight bag and sleeping bag, and roll up your camp-mat, and put them all in the vehicle before setting out for the day's walk. Have an anorak, extra sweater and woolly hat on, or in a day bag. Food is not needed. A water bottle is useful for your own drinking supply.

Gorely volcano (optional excursion, already included)

Again the volcano walk is on a single trail there and back, where members can walk as far as they wish and then return down the same trail. Avoid walking alone; in case of accidents as trivial as a sprained ankle, it is best to be in groups of at least three.

From either campsite, the 6WD bus head north to the track round the edge of the large lake that lies in the unfilled eastern crescent of the Gorely caldera. From the lake flats, the walk up the volcano is about 5 km, climbing steadily to gain 750 m in height. The walk up the huge shield volcano is over a mixture of rough grassy tundra with very low dwarf willow and bare stripes of basaltic a lava. Some lava flow structures are recognizable, and there are also patches of volcanic ash redistributed by the wind.

Aim up the slope for the saddle between the two low summits which are the raised rims of separate craters. Higher up, long gently graded snow-fields provide the easiest route up (and certainly the best way to come back down). The southwest crater, to the left, is dead and rather featureless.

Head through the saddle and then round to the right, along the far rim of the main crater complex. The first large crater contains a cold lake about 100 m below; its surface has ice floes from a small glacier on its internal slope. The walls of all the craters expose profiles through thick sequences of lava flows with a limited component of interbedded pyroclastics. Continue beyond it to a broad shelf that extends inside the very large old central crater. Picnic lunch on the shelf. Just ahead, there is a sudden, unguarded, vertical descent into the active crater. Over 100 m down, a hot acidic lake has active fumaroles and solfataras around its margin and beneath the surface. The recent eruptions of Gorely have been largely steam events produced when these vents heat up and therefore increase their output.

Return back along the outward route to the bus by the lake. The bus head back out of the Gorely caldera, and then return to a hotel in the Paratunka Valley. Rest and swim in pool with thermal hot water.

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