John Harvey Photo

Volcano National ParkGo to Slide Show

The newest part of Hawaii


Hawaii had two big draws for me - the telescopes on Mauna Kea and the Volcano National Park.  We woke up early and started the long (two hour) drive from the resort (Kailua-Kona) side to the eastern side of the Island (about half an hour south of Hilo).  The trip around is quite scenic - we traveled through a number of climate zones and small towns, some great views and some desolate places.  After a long drive (and an unscheduled bathroom break), we arrived at the Park headquarters.  Time for lunch!  We left the park, stopped in Volcano (the town) and ate lunch at the Lava Rock Internet Cafe in the village of Volcano and then returned to the park for our tour proper.

Thurston Lava Tube

The first major stop on the circle route is the Thurston Lava Tube.  The 300 foot tube is a remnant from a flow before 1790 - the lave covered over forming the tube, the source blocked up and the tube flowed until it was empty.  In 1913 Lorrin Thurston discovered the tube and it is a now a well developed and traveled piece of the Park.  The park has installed walk ways, lights and stairs to make it completely accessible.
 
 

Giant FernsTrail into Thurston Lava Tube

Thurston Lava TubeUs in Thurston Lava Tube

Exiting the Thurston Lava Tube

Devastation Trail

Our second stop is the was the Devastation Trail.  When the nearby Kilauea Iki Crater erupted in the 1959 it ejected tons of stone onto the nearby jungle.  The light rock burned and buried most of the plant life but a few tree trunks from the original forest is still around.  The rocks buried the trees trunks and solidified around them leaving holes in group.  32 years after the eruption life is starting to colonize the expanse of light rock.

Moist and Dry PumiceTree Hole and WoodTufts of Grass in the Area of Devastation

Walking Devastation Trail

Kilauea Iki Trail

Coming out of the Forest

After the Devastation Trail we were going to continue on the circle drive route but the overlook of Kilauea Crater tempted us to walk down into the caldera and see the environment.  We drove back to the parking lot for the Thurston Lava Tube and noticed a trail sneaking out of the lower end of the parking lot.  The trail is obviously well traveled (wide) and completely tropical.  After about 20 minuets of walking, you come out into another world.

Entering the Kilauea Iki Crater



Pressure Ridge in Kilauea Iki Crater

The surface is like nothing I've ever hiked on - it's like a giant paved parking lot that's been thought hundreds of earthquakes and is venting steam.  The surface is cold - this was a lake of boiling lava in 1959, but it hasn't erupted in 30 years.  The large cracks have moist warm air flowing out of them and have stained regions around the vent.  The rocks themselves are very porous - some look like sponge and are really light.
 

Steam Vents in Kilauea Iki CraterStained Rock in Kilauea Iki Crater

Rocks in Kilauea Iki CraterSponge Type Rock in Kilauea Iki Crater

Walking in Kilauea Iki Crater

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay for long.  The weather was somewhere between mist and light rain and without adequate weather protection, we were getting soaked.  After perhaps half an hour in the crater, we started the 380 foot assent back to the road.

Highway to the Coast

Rainbow in Pauahi Crater


Given the limited time, we cut short the circle tour round the crater and started heading for the coast.  Out next stop, given the huge rainbow in front of us was Pauahi Crater - a double crater that had lava in it in 1973 and 1979.  There is still a distinct ring around the crater showing the "high lava" mark where the lava had filled to.  There are a number of offerings on the lip of the crater.

Crashing Wave at Sea Arch

After a long descent off the bluff, we came down to the ocean.  This land is of varying ages - lava flows crisscrosses the plain with some areas without life, others well colonized.  We stopped at Holei Sea arch and walked around.  The lava formations on the ground were so interesting, we almost forgot to look over the edge to see the sea arch.  Wow!  Small black sand beaches are momentarily exposed and then covered by the next crashing wave.  Being washed up here would be a death sentence.

Crashing Wave at Sea Arch

The End of the Road

Us at the End of the Road

Shortly after the sea arches the road just ends.  Lava from the Pu'u O'o vent flowed downhill and covered over the road in 1983.  Seeing a road just disappear like this is a little strange.   Depending on the flow, lava is usually within walking distance of this point, but not for us.  The lava tubes blocked up a few miles from the ocean and the lava was pooling at the top of the ridge, about 6 km from where we were.  It was near the end of the day so we weren't about to go for hike.

The End of the Road

Solid Lava Waves

We walked around the lava field at the end of the road and watched the sun sink below the ridge.  I was very impressed with this park - some day I hope to return.

Mike and Val on LavaLava at the End of the Road

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Rainbow in Pauahi Crater
Tags: rainbow
Entering the Kilauea Iki Crater
Tags: depth cueing, fog, volcanism
Giant Ferns
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Exiting the Thurston Lava Tube
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Crashing Wave at Sea Arch
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Rocks in Kilauea Iki Crater
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Solid Lava Waves
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Walking in Kilauea Iki Crater
Person: Michael
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Mike and Val on Lava
Person: Michael
Tags: hiking, lava
Steam Vents in Kilauea Iki Crater
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Sponge Type Rock in Kilauea Iki Crater
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Pressure Ridge in Kilauea Iki Crater
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Tags: depth cueing, fog, rock, volcanism
Walking Devastation Trail
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Trail into Thurston Lava Tube
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Us in Thurston Lava Tube
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The End of the Road
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Tree Hole and Wood
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Coming out of the Forest
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Tufts of Grass in the Area of Devastation
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Moist and Dry Pumice
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Thurston Lava Tube
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Stained Rock in Kilauea Iki Crater
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Lava at the End of the Road
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Us at the End of the Road
Person: Mark, John
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Crashing Wave at Sea Arch
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Tags: Hawaii(13), volcanism(8), lava(8), rock(5), cave(4), trail(3)
People: Michael(2), Mark(1), John(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > The Big Island of Hawaii > Volcano National Park

Beautiful pictures! They bring back wonderful memories. My husband (now deceased) and I spent 9 days on Hawaii to celebrate our 40th Anniversary. We toured the observatories and Volcano park, and the coral reef by submarine. We also did a fly-over by helicopter. Wonderful trip!
Joyfulpat
Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 12:01:12

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