03 January 2013

Tuesday: Lava old and new; Wednesday: Hilo and waterfalls

TUESDAY was a big day. After falling asleep Monday night (new years eve) well before midnight, I got up and took a nice run through the neighborhood here in Volcano Village, passing by farms and ranches on my way. S and I got started by visiting Thurston Lava Tube, a tunnel formed by lava cooling from inside itself. The tube is fairly horizontal about 15 in diameter, so you can walk right through it!

Then, we backtracked to the Visitor Center and took a few short hikes up and around the main part of the park. We hiked through a field with steam vents, and another with sulfur vents:

And after we went through the Jaggar Museum (focused on volcanic activity and Hawaiian activity in particular), we got a better look at the churning lava pit in the center of Kiluaea Caldera:

Then, it was off to the city of Hilo on the east coast for lunch and a sojourn.  We had some time to kill, so we took the long way down the coast from Hilo, stopping at a few swimming holes to check them out (note: walking around a swimming hole, fully clothed, carrying a camera makes you look and feel like a creep).  Ultimately, our target was a trailhead that would lead us to some hot lava. We got to the trailhead about an hour before dark to start the 2.5 mile trek across the lava fields. Along the way, we saw this drain shape that had formed about 30 years ago:

The 2.5 mile trek took about 90 minutes, and by the time we arrived, the sky was dark. The lava glowed orange. The air around it was warm (as was the rock in some places). We could hear it popping and sizzling. We had managed to maneuver ourselves very close to the coast, so we could see the lava cascading off of the cliff, hundreds of feet into the sea.  It was beautiful.  Just, wow.

After the lava show, we hiked the 2.5 miles back to the car, aided by flashlights and the stars to find our way. The wind had picked up, and there were few lights on the ground to guide us. Thankfully, S could read the stars.  Back to the car, then to Hilo for a light dinner.

WEDNESDAY started with an early rise to get some field recording done. Unfortunately, between the wind and the choppers buzzing in the park, the rain forest beds I was hoping to get weren't quite so pristine.  They'll require some editing.  

After I got back to the cottage, S and I took off for Hilo. We had a diner breakfast, tooled around the Hilo Farmer's Market, and hit the road up the coast.  We hit a few waterfalls (this one took six composited photographs to make into one image):

Then, we found a beautiful botanical gardens where we killed two hours photographing anything that would fit in the frame:

Up the coast some more stops for snacks (a smoothie to go with the coconut buns and apple bananas we bought in Hilo) and more coast.  Laupahoehoe Beach Park is on the grounds of an old school. In 1946, the island was hit by a tsunami, and 21 students and teachers from the school lost their lives.  The  surf is beautiful, but it's severe.

We watched the day turn to dusk at Laupahoehoe, so it wasn't long before we turned around and headed home to Volcano for the night.  We stopped in Hilo for a light dinner.  Tonight, we'll sleep good.

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