In this post I'll expand on the Caldera de las Canadas at the summit of Tenerife, specifically my experience of its relationship to the rest of the island. As I mention before, much of the reason the surrounding landscape is invisible from the floor of the caldera is topographical. But, at least at the times I was there, the reason was equally meteorological. The mountains ringing the caldera were usually holding back a layer of cloud; thus, from vantage points on the Montana de Guajara, the island's third highest peak and the highest point on the rim of the caldera, the caldera floor was clear while the other side of the rim was mostly obscured.
So, even while standing at the top of the rim, I felt as though I were in a special world set apart from the rest of the island. But more significantly, the knowledge that I was standing at the very edge of this world was as empowering as the experience of standing at the boundary between any two contrasting landscapes. And, the fact that I could only see one of them clearly - the caldera, but not the forests and semiarid coastline - had the unexpected effect of heightening the contrast rather than lessening it. At times, the mist did dissipate in spots to reveal a hint of pines creeping through gaps in the hills below below the rim, at the ecotone between the pine forest and the alpine highlands. Thinking about it now, this experience of standing on the very edge of the visible world, interspersed with glimpses of another one beyond (as I had originally been hoping for), was probably the one most capable of giving me a sense of "control" over the island's upper reaches.
Several days later, weather conditions similarly muddled an opportunity to experience the ecological transition from forest to alpine - a hike from the pines to the lower reaches of the lava flows at the opposite side of the caldera. Mist hid any views of what lay ahead, and rain ultimately prevented me from completing the route (when forced to turn back, the lava flows had begun to appear, but were still interspersed with bits of forest). But once again, that the full extent of the transition remained shrouded in mystery created an effect more powerful than clear skies would have produced. In my mind, the two places coexisted, but in the real world they remained distinct. The full strength of the contrast was preserved.