Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Big Island: Volcanos and Caves and Lava Flows, Oh My!

Our cabin in Volcanos was a cute little place tucked into the woods.

The naturalized yard included Azaleas! I didn't know they would grow in Hawaii. My mom always had lots of Azaleas and Rhodedendrons in our yard growing up.

Volcano National Park

Volcanos National Park Steam Vents.

Cora up close to one of the Steam Vents. This one is so big they built a fence around it. We couldn't see the bottom of it.

Up at the Visitor Center we learned a lot about volcanos and had some great views of crater.

We headed out on the trail around the crater and got a few peeks at the bleak landscape below.

That small teeny line below is people hiking across the bottom of the crater. We weren't planning to do it until we saw this view and knew we had to do it.

On the way over to the Crater trail we stopped at the Thurston Lava Tube.

And went for a little stroll through it. It was well lit and large and kinda short. The tube itself is a lot longer but the park doesn't allow access to the rest of the tube.

The trail down into the crater had a lot of trees and then suddenly opened into this. The difference was shocking.

We felt like we were walking on the moon.

Like I said before, originally we weren't planning on hiking across the crater. Then we decided just to hike down to the bottom and then hike back up.  But once we got down and saw how awesome the landscape was we had to keep going.
We were really glad it was an overcast and drizzly day. All the black and rock and steam would have been so hot otherwise. It just kept going and going. I really enjoyed seeing the Ohia trees doing their best to grow back through the lava fields.

Pahoa Lava Flow

From the source of the lava to the end of the flow. We drove out to the Pahoa Transfer station which is the location of the current lava flow view station. Earlier this summer the lava came through here. It is all drying and cooling now.

And there is still steam coming up from it.  Some of this is not steam however. It was drizzling and cloudy but the effect was pretty cool.

Oh no! The lava is going to get us! (The girls really enjoyed taking this picture).

I thought this was interesting. It is an experiment that University of Hawaii, Hilo is working on.  They are trying to devise a way to protect utility lines from the lava flows. It insulates the pole and keeps it from falling immediately.  One pole that has been treated like this has been surrounded by lava. Though it is sinking it was not immediately enveloped as would happen previously. This gives them time to reroute power.

This was an awesome day.  The weather was pretty wet and we got stuck in a few major downpours but all that was perfect for all the hiking we did.  After dinner we went back up to the Visitor Center with Grandma and Grandpa in hopes to see the glowing lava flow.  It was too foggy and we could hardly see a couple feet in front of us. As we were driving back to the cabin, passing the steam vent area, the fog let up and we could see the red glow of the lava in the distance.  We parked and made our way through the dark wet night to the edge of the ridge. It was so dark that we got a little disoriented on the way back to the car and were lost for a bit. Ultimately we got back safely and had fun along the way.

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