Furnace Peak

Sunday, April 23, 2023
Saint Denis, Saint-Denis, Reunion
The Prodigues were at the hotel at 09:00 to pick us up. We started driving east, then south toward the volcanic peak.  As we drove, we continued our conversation of the day before about many things. I asked if they had slept well, and they both said yes, both from fatigue but also the resolution of their fellowship status. That was a big relief, they said. I was very happy for them and for the Church in the region.
The weather was bright and sunny with puffy white clouds in the sky. We drove through verdant forests as we left the Saint Denis area along the coast. When we turned toward the interior, the climbing began. As we climbed, I receive a warning message on my phone: the authorities announced that they expected an eruption within minutes or hours. Hikers were to evacuate, anyone in the enclosure (l’enclos) was to evacuate immediately. The enclosure is a very large flat caldera, which has dropped several hundred feet around the peak, leaving a sheer rock wall around half the cone.
The scenery became breath-taking. Reunion is a young volcanic island. It has practically no protective reefs, and the vertical lines of the mountains are sharp and abrupt.
We came to a feature called the plain of sand, a huge waste of volcanic sand and rock. The pavement ended here.  
We continued on, over a washboard dirt road, climbing still father. Finally, we reached the viewing area where had a clear view of the volcanic peak (8635 ft). The enclosure looks like a giant fortification from Middle Earth. The whole scene was most impressive. The Prodigues had brought me here many years ago, but the weather was socked-in and we couldn’t see anything but fog.
Now, we could see it all clearly. Knowing an eruption was imminent, even if the chances of anything being visible here were low, added a tension and suspense to the experience. This is one of the five or six most active volcanoes in the world, along with Kilauea on Hawaii, Stromboli and Etna in Italy and Mount Erebus in Antarctica. It’s a huge tourist draw for Reunion.
When our eyes were satiated, we started the drive down, stopping to view the Commerson Crater, a caldera named for Philibert Commerson, a French explorer. There is a viewing platform out over the void, which allows rather frightening views almost 800 feet straight down. At times like this, one realizes how small and delicate human beings are. It would take so little….
We headed farther town the mountain to a village called La Plaine des Palmistes where we stopped for lunch in a little restaurant where they had eaten before. Since it was Sunday, it was buffet only. They offered a good selection of first and main courses. I had goat curry on rice and beans, which was very good. We started back down the mountain. When we reached the coast we had to make a decision, turn right and go to the grand brulé, “the big burned place”, a giant lava flow where the liquid rock often makes its way to the ocean.
That would have added 90 minutes or more to our way back to the hotel. It was after 4:00 pm by this time and Marjolaine was tired. We also have a morning departure tomorrow and a long day and night, so we asked to be taken back to the hotel.
We thanked them very sincerely for the lovely day, the visit to the volcano, the lunch and the enjoyable fellowship.
They said they would both take us to the airport tomorrow morning.
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What a joyous reunion with old friends! Prayers continue for your and Marjolaine's health and strength.


Praying that He would give His angels charge over you for the remainder of the trip.


Wow, all the great photos. It must be unsettling to look out over the Commersion Crater. The photo show a lot of color there.

Tess Washington

Great to hear you all had a great day! Thank you for taking the time to write this blog and all the photos!