Where the Lava Meets the Road

At the Southeastern point of Volcano National Park ooze the most active and most recent lava flows.  The road extends only as far as lava has not covered it.  From the end of the road you can hike out several miles over the lava flow to see where the lava enters the ocean, or at least you could in 2006 when Beth last visited the park.  Currently, the lava viewing area is located on the other side of the flow, accessible only by going clear around (a two plus hour drive).  According to reports, lava wasn't visible flowing into the ocean at that time anyway, so we didn't even try to hike out.  But it was cool to see the newly formed coastline. Lava flows have added over 538 new acres of land to this shoreline since 1983.

Volcanic Sea Arch at dusk

End of the line.

Kilauea Iki

Since the larger Kilauea Crater is closed to the public due to dangerous gasses we decided to hike the Kilauea Iki crater (which means small Kilauea).

The crater floor is one big volcanic rock slab, almost entirely flat, except for the upheavals at the steam vents and a few other cracks where vegetation has begun to take seed.

Steaming, flesh-colored fissures at the vents.

'Ama'u Fern (endemic) growing from the rock.

'Ohi'a tree (also endemic).

'Ohi'a Lehua.  So called when the 'Ohi'a tree blooms.  Connected to ancient Hawaiian legend, 'Ohi'a and Lehua were two young lovers.  But Pele, the goddess of volcano and fire loved 'Ohi'a and in her jealousy turned 'Ohi'a into a tree.  Lehua, devastated at the loss of her lover, was transformed into the Lehua flower (the red blossoms) so that they could be together.  The Legend holds that when you pick the Lehua flower, it will rain.  I'm not all that familiar with the legend, and if I've gotten it wrong (beth) please correct me.

Inside The Thurston Lava Tube

As it's found in Volcano National Park, the park service has the first hundred yards or so of this Lava Tube lit.  When we arrived, there were dozens of people rambling through the lit portion, their voices echoing off the stone walls, filling the tube with the clutter of too much conversation.  We walked the tube, did tour with the other tubers and then continued on past the lights, around a high fence with a half-broken warning sign and into the real depths of the Lava Tube.  Since not many people bring flashlights, few continue past the lit area, but it's back there that you really get a feel for the place.  We walked all the way to the back where the tube gets smaller and smaller before it finally ends in a little bubble of a cave with a very low ceiling.  We turned off the flashlight and sat in the pitch black listening to the water drip from the roof of the tube.  It was mostly calming, though the darkness did make me a little claustrophobic.  On our way back out we encountered another small group making their way through with flashlights and I was able to get some interesting long exposure shots.

Group with flashlight approaching.  I didn't bring a tripod so I ended up setting the camera on a large boulder, a small piece of which you can see in the lower right hand corner.  100sec./f4.5/iso400

Group with flashlight retreating.  (there were only about three or four people in the group even though it appears there are more because of the long exposure).   30sec./f3.5/iso100