I was up very early this morning and packed my stuff for the day in darkness before driving the 20 miles back to town to meet up with Danny, the guide from Hawaii Forest and Trail, who would be taking a group of twelve, including myself, on a tour of the Kilauea Volcano.
This had been organised by Becky at the Big Island Visitors Bureau, in response to contact from Debbie in Oregon about my visit here.
We drove across the island, and Danny told us stories of the history and culture of Hawaii, as well as facts on volcanos, and the formation of the Hawaiian Islands chain.
Our first volcano stop was to overlook the huge Kilauea Caldera, a crater which is three miles long and two miles wide. Smoke seeps out of cracks in the floor, and the whole scene is quite other-worldly.
Next we took a walk through a lava tube, which is formed when flowing lava develops a skin over the top, but continues to run underneath the surface, forming a tube of flowing molten rock. When the lava stops flowing, an empty rock tube remains, and these can often be miles long.
We also took a look into the smaller Kilauea Ika Crater, and behind that we could see the huge plume of sulphur dioxide which the volcano has been producing for months.
Or final stop of the day was to see the spectacular point where flowing lava reaches the sea. At the water’s edge, the lava instantly boils the seawater, which causes a huge steam cloud. We were very fortunate to be able to see this, which has been occuring at this point only for a matter of weeks, as for the previous few days the wind has been blowing in the wrong direction, and the road has been closed due to the danger. However, today the wind shifted, and the road was opened again – perfect timing. Where the lava meets the water there are often explosions, with new rock being thrown high in the air.
As the lava meets the water, it is cooled and solidifies, and becomes new rock, and the Big Island continues to get bigger – what an amazing process to see in action.
The whole experience was quite incredible, and the views stunning. Huge thanks to all who have helped make this possible, Debbie for acting so efficiently as my personal organiser, Becky for arranging the trip for me, Danny for his incredibly well-informed guiding services, and all at Hawaii Forest and Trail, and Barbara for her kind offer of accomodation for my stay here.
I went in a lava tube in central Oregon once. Once we were well in, my friend and I took turns going around a corner with the lantern, which allowed us to experienece true pitch-black darkness. The tube got progressively smaller, and about a mile in, you have to get on your hands and knees to continue. At that point I suddenly had a flash of claustrophobia and headed back out. Highly recommended experience for the adventurous!