This is something I just had to share because it really tickled me!
To set the scene: I’ve spent the last four-plus hours walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (19.4 km, highest point Red Crater, 1886m), with the last three of those hours in the rain, and I’m striding forward in all my sogginess, knowing I’m on the last kilometre-ish of the walk. I would include lots of lovely pictures for you here, but in fact I had near-zero visibility so there was precious little to see! First thing I did on returning to the hostel was to check on Google Images to see what it should have looked like... wow! Here's the start of the walk, anyway:
So I walk forward. No stopping, it said. I hurry up. Imagining hazards everywhere, but what?
There’s water rushing close to the track... does lahar mean a sudden flood, water rising out of nowhere? I gauge the distance between river and track... seems fine.
Is it some kind of animal? I prepare for something wild boar-esque to leap out of the bush at me.
Some kind of insect? Is something large and many-legged more likely to drop on my head during these 700m than elsewhere?!
Is it the name of a machine, maybe involved in earthmoving work? Likely to slip?! Or is the land likely to slip?
Or maybe it's a natural disaster, such as a mini-volcano? After all, I’ve spent the last four hours walking on volcanic terrain and marvelling at black lava shapes, and am currently at the foot of a huge dormant volcano (Mt. Ngauruhoe, or “Mount Doom” as it has now been known for some years, thanks to one Peter Jackson).
It’s a really WEIRD feeling. Walking along, eyes everywhere, ears straining, aware there’s some kind of danger apparently very close at hand... yet not having the slightest clue where to watch for it, what to expect, what to do if it materialises. Such a strange sensation!
After a couple of minutes, I get to this sign:
On we go. Relieved, but no wiser!
Three minutes later I’ve finished the walk. Hooray! Chuffed with my time, too. And someone waiting here for their lift back was able to explain that mysterious warning: lahar means a sudden shift and rise of hot LAVA!