31 December 2012

Volcano National Park

Today, we slept in a little bit and got a late start.  It was 11am by the time we hit the trail, but we made up for it with a 6.5 mile hike.  We started out at the visitor center of Volcano National Park, where we walked along the rim of the Kilauea Caldera, a huge depression that houses Halema'uma'u crater, one of the active volcanos in the park. Because of eruption and activity, much of the caldera was off-limits for hiking. Here's Halema'uma'u smoldering in the distance:

Along part of the ridge hike, we walked along what used to be a two-lane road encircling the caldera, until some volcanic activity in the '80s destroyed part of the road.  Now the road is pedestrian-only, and you can see how nature is slowly reclaiming it:

The middle section of the hike was around and through Kilauea Iki Crater, which had lots of steam vents and lava ridges.  Part of the hike went right through the crater:

After that hike, we grabbed a quick lunch of some quiche before beginning a drive down Chain of Craters Road, which is a 40-mile round-trip road down from the caldera to the coast. Along the way, you pass a bunch of craters of varying states of awesomeness. Towards the end, when the coast is in sight, there's a pull out where you can have your mind blown by the vastness of the lava fields:

Also towards the coast is a hike into the lava fields to see some of the petroglyphs that the ancient Hawaiians made.  Not much is known about these carvings, except that one set of them were used as repositories for umbilical cords. 

When we got to the end of the road, the sky had cleared, the sun was setting, and it was beautiful.

After we reached the end of the road, we parked the car and continued on foot down the road. The Chain of Craters Road has been rerouted a number of times because of lava flows (the Ranger Station down there is a mobile home so it can be easily moved), and at the end of the road we reached a section where the lava had completely covered the street. All that was left was this forlorn sign:

After a long day of hiking, we were pooped! Thai for dinner, then home to chill out and go to bed early. Happy New Year to all of you out there!

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