Sunday, January 26, 2014

Volcano National Park

Back to Kilauea this aft, to descend Crater Road to the sea.  After our diminutive little Mazda struggled up to 4,000 feet, we rolled down Crater Road inside the Park to sea level, passing a number of Craters and an eerily dated series of Lava flows that intersected the road.  A little reflection reminded us that we were sitting on top of 40,000 feet of lava, all the way from the sea floor which had been depressed by the shear weight of the island's volcanoes.  The scenes of devastation were monumental.

After 19 miles of road through the lava fields to the sea, we turned about, climbed back up and started towards home. The way was strewn with signs about the danger of the seafront cliffs being unstable and subject to collapse,  Tsunami Evacuation Zones and even one stretch of road that warned us that it was a rift zone and we should be on the lookout for cracks in the road!  Wouldn't want to drive over the edge of one of those and fall into an active volcano!

In spite of increasing fog and mist, Reg wanted to take the turnoff to Mauna Loa Lookout so off we went up 4 miles of narrow road to 5,000 feet altitude where the road  became even narrower.  One-lane in fact. Startled pheasants and wild Nene geese (Hawaii's National Bird, related to the Canada Goose), not used to cars stood in the road until waved at.  Four more miles of that were enough to convince Paul that the expedition was fruitless in the decreasing visibility, so we turned around, stopping to see lava tree molds on the way back to the main road and home.

Scenic East coast of the Big Island

Surf near a park beach.

Determined tree growing out of a lava cliff

Aptly named "Devastation Trail" for hiking across a lava lake in Volcano National Park.

Hikers on the trail

Active steam vent alongside the trail

Reg in one of many lava fields

Convoluted pahoe'hoe lava

Where Kilauea lava flows meet the sea.  Note isolated "island" of trees surrounded by lava.

One of many craters along Crater Road

Holei Pali Scarp left by primeval flow out of Kilauea to the sea.

One-lane road to Mauna Loa lookout

Erckle's Frankolin birds on roadside.  Introduced to Hawaii for hunting, they spend most of their time on the ground, in the woods (no natural predators).

Tree mold left when molten lava surrounded a live tree.  The dampness of the sap cooled the lava enough for it to set before the tree burned away.


  1. Looks quite desolate there...! I guess Hilo is the place to go for action on the big island. Google Earth shows a bar and restsaurant near you called the Shaka Restaurant. Its claim to fame is that it is the southernmost bar in the USA....... Mixed reviews regarding the food, atmosphere and service though.

  2. I see lots of black, dark landscape down there but up here, it is white, white, white. Just came back from Cornwall, experiencing total white outs and extremely slippery roads. I envy you. Enjoy!