...and everything volcano.
25.09.2010 - 25.09.2010 27 °C
Gordon is waiting with a massive breakfast spread at 7 am sharp. We stuff ourselves full of fresh fruits and homemade breads, before heading on our way to the Puna Region. Our first stop is snorkeling in the calm tidal pools at the Waiopae Marine Conserve. Julie find another octopus hiding beneath rocks. The pools are full of life, but impact from development and septic beds is taking its toll.
We stop for a quick soak in the spring fed thermal pond at Isaac Hale Beach Park. It's amazing that we are sitting in water warmed by magma. We don't stay too long since the water is just warm and we were hoping it was going to be hot.
Our next stop is the natural lava steam rooms. We pull off the side of the road, and hike past the “No Trespassing” signs and onto the property. The trails are very over grown, burrs scrape Julie's legs along the way, but we know it'll be worth it when we get to the caves. As we search for the perfect steam room we run into Melanie, we met her when we hitched a ride with to the top of Mauna Kea. Very strange to cross paths on this vast island again. Through the maze of trails, we find a cave that suits us. The cave is small and there is just enough space for 2 people to have a seat on the old bench inside. It is very warm, and the cave is dripping wet. As we sit on the bench we feel the steam on our backs, it comes in puffs, as if the Goddess Pele (the legendary volcano goddess) is breathing. The steam comes from deep within the earth.... Our bodies are dripping wet ... I'll stop there....that sounds too x-rated for this blog. After about 40 minutes of complete relaxation and amazement that we are in a natural steam room we decide to head to see the lava. We are rejuvenated and feel fabulous.
The final stop on our days tour of the area where everything seems to be influenced by volcanoes is the island's highlight, piping hot lava pouring into the ocean. We start hiking across young lava flow, about 10 years old. It's very scary to witness the result of the mass destruction of the lava's path. But the odd house still stands in the midst of this lava, either the lava travelled around them, or people are already rebuilding! I should explain, that the pictures from the previous day at Halema'uma'u Crater are at the summit of the Kilauea volcano and the source of the lava pouring into the ocean is from that same volcano. There is no lava flowing out of the Halema'uma'u Crater, just steam leaving the crater. The lava flows underground by the crater, and then through a lava tube, coming through the surface at the Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) vent. It came through the TEB vent to the surface in 2007 and the red hot lava has been slowly flowing along land from this vent to the ocean 700 m (2300 ft) away. Destroying anything in its path. Just recently the lava reached the ocean and as a result of it cooling on contact it is making the island bigger in size.
So for the entire hike, which takes about an hour, we could see the steam barrelling from the lava tube to the heavens. When we reach the safe viewing point with about 6 other people, we watch in awe at the hot lava emptying into the Pacific. Night sets in fast and the show intensifies. The fiery hot lava, sometimes boiling at 2,100 degrees, collides with cold sea water exploding like a grenade. Watch the uploaded video for full affect.
I get adventurous and poke around closer and closer to the flow with a couple other guys. We find fresh lava right under our feet! The cracks are glowing bright red and insanely hot. More people keep creeping up to the hot spot, some with marshmallows! It is one crazy sight. I drag Julie to the lava site, but one look at the red glow, and see bolts back to her comfort zone. We call it a night and make the long trek back to the van in the moonlight. That is the most powerful spectacle of nature that we have every seen. Incredible.