Kilauea is about 4000 feet above seal level and is one of two active volcanos on the Island. Kilauea stands in the shadow off Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The Two huge volcanos whose mere presence on the island controls weather patterns. This smaller Volcano at 4,000 feet is in a lush rain forest created because Mauna Loa prevents the water systems from passing to the other side of the island. Today when we arrive at Volcano National Park we are told there are various warnings and closings. Sulphuric acid gas makes certain areas unpassable and other areas simply dangerous. Parts of the park and the Hike I went on previously are closed. One road was destroyed recently by lava flow. Closing off certain area.
The Rain is cool here and the air temperature is lower than we expected. We enter the visitors center and pretty quickly realized we are not prepared to go on any real hike. We need to be dressed both warmer and be able to change to lighter gear. And Thyme wore flip flops and there are several notices saying do not wear flip flops. Hiking shoes and sturdy boots are preferred. We need rain gear and flashlights. But we decide to press on to see what we can see today and then come back perhaps tomorrow.
First after watching a really informative movie at the visitors center, talking with a ranger and fighting with Thyme because she is refusing to do the junior ranger program despite all my pleas and attempts at coercion it seems to be a non-starter with Thyme. We head as far as we are allowed around the crater, the Caldera of the volcano. The air is thick wet and smells strongly of suphur. Rain, vog (voclanic fog) cover the crater largely but we see steam and sulphuric acid rising.
We then decide to follow the road back around the crater and follow the flow of lava to the ocean. This is a 20 mile drive starting at 4,000 feet descending rapidly. First we stop at a large lava Tube. Formed by lava the tube acts as a conduit for more lava. Lava can travel quite expediently through these tubes clocked at 30 mph + and about 2,000 degrees farenheight.
The area here is a dense rain forest, Ferns reaching as high as 20 feet are the low plants of the forest. As we head still father along we come to the "chain of craters" where the lava moved from the Volcano and or smaller eruption starting places downward and into the ocean. We stopped along the way at many of the craters. Huge desolate holes. Then continued until we met a flow area that went in both directions as far as the eye could see and in one direction all the way to the ocean. We could and may hike this when we have better shoes and equipment. The temperature at the top of the crater in the rain was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. As we reach the lava fields the temperature is raising quite quickly with the air perhaps 80 but the land now closer to 100 about half way to the water now we are still getting sprinkles of rain that is now pleasant.
We continue through this landscape that is reminiscent of Death Valley or how I think the moon may look. We continue dropping in elevation through clouds of vag where we must close our windows. My throat and chest feel the way they did in New Dehli think. There are health alerts all over for those with pulmonary or cardiac conditions, the very young, sick or elderly. We press on. Ahead there is an area where Petroglyphs have been discovered. Pu'uloa petroyglyphs. We hike into a lava flow area the sun is hot and the land is dry now arid even. As far as the eye can see there is this great valley of lava flow. The ocean on one side, ahead of us is the active lava flow a solid stream of molten rock stand between us and our Hostle to get home we must return 20 miles back up then 45 miles around. Our Hostel is in an area that is threatened by the current lava flow. We hike in to see these Petroglyphs. I am really taken back by them. People living here amongst these rocks and very few plants making these pictures. What do they mean? There are images of people? Tiangles, circles circles with in circles, circles seemingly lined up pointing. Do they represent the stars are they directions they travelled? For so many days? We continue to the ocean the cliffs made from when the water hits the lava. What a site where an unmovable object reaches an irresistible force or virtually so in each case. Again signs of caution are everywhere. At the visitors center above there were notifications that people have died by standing on volcanic shelving that abruptly falls into the sea. Pieces many times the size of football fields drop off in an instant. Also we are told the water itself becomes super heated so waves have crashed over the walls scalding visitors. A hard and unforgiving landscape.
We spend the entire day following this route and back. Tomorrow or soon we plan to go back to hike down into the volcano but we need to be better prepared and on Friday nighte a guide will take us to where we can view active lava.
Next week Surfing.
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