In case you missed it: Part I and Part II
The next leg of our trip in Hawaii was quite a memorable adventure. We knew we wanted to hike around Volcano National Park, possibly to active lava flow, but we weren’t sure if that was an option. At the ranger station we were presented with a list of hiking options from easy 1 milers to challenging 11 milers. But when we asked about hiking to active lava flow we were presented with a different option, that wasn’t in the guidebook, and some pictures of what we would see. The ranger told us to drive down the Chain of Craters road until we hit the road closure that resulted from 2003 lava flow.
View larger map
From there we had the option to hike about 11 kilometers to active lava flow. The first 6 kilometers were marked, but after that we were on our own. And we were warned to stay at least 1/4 mile from the ocean and to be careful where we stepped after about 11 kilometers, because the lava could be flowing anywhere at that point. After discussing our options, we decided to be adventurous and head towards liquid hot magma. We prepared ourselves with head lamps (knowing we would be coming back after dark), giant turkey sandwiches on cranberry macadamia nut bread from Cafe Ohia
, LOTS of water, Breeze Bars
, and a Snickers bar (just in case).
Before making the drive we stopped by the Jaggar Museum to see the Halema’uma’u crater.
Along the drive we could see evidence of lava flow from the Pu’u ‘O’o crater from 1986 to today. At this point it dawned on us that we were going to be walking on Earth that was younger than us! How neat!
When we got to the end of the road, there was no question about it.
And this is where the hike began…at 11:30 am.
Along the way we found the kilometer markers the ranger mentioned.
And plenty of stunning coastline and lava formations.
No sight in Hawaii is complete without a rainbow.
With little to no signs of life and a feeling of walking on the moon, we hiked, for hours…and hours…
Eventually, we reached the point where we could see the lava flow coming down the hillside and into the ocean on the other side.
Knowing we were almost there, and long past the 11 kilometer “mark”, we kept going, making sure to watch our steps as we could step in liquid hot magma at any moment. Eventually, we stopped to eat our sandwiches. As we were eating we could see heat rising on the horizon and we could tell by the texture, softness, and color of the lava flow we were standing on that it was rather “fresh”. We continued walking, until suddenly my ankles were getting so hot I couldn’t keep my feet down for long, and the bottom of my shoes felt like they were melting. Getting a little nervous, we stayed in one spot and looked around until we looked down and saw this…
…and we were standing on it. Suddenly we became overwhelmingly hot and a little freaked out that the “ground” below us could be washed out at any moment, so we snapped a few photos and began making our ~14 kilometer journey back. After about 7.5 hours total, we made it back just after sunset.
And on our way out of the park we stopped by the Jaggar museum again to see the glow from the Halema’uma’u crater.
Tired, hungry, sweaty, and hardly able to walk, we went straight to our favorite Thai restaurant
and recovered with some Mai Tai’s and a spring roll before we went back to our place for leftovers.
I guess I can check “See liquid hot magma in person” off my life list.
What is on your life list?