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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My Hawaii Nature Journal -- Day 3 -- 12/20/2007

Day Three was my Volcano Day. Mauna Loa, from whose loins springs Kilauea caldera and Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, was looming over all as I left Emma and Manny's house south of Hilo and started west. It wasn't a LARGE loom, just a persistent mound up which the road kept rising for thirty miles until it crested at the park entrance.

I wish I could have seen that caldera when Mark Twain saw it -- apparently it was quite hellish, red and roiling, gnashing its teeth, lacking only visible devils. Now it is quiet, black and hard, with some steam fumaroles and other vents around the perimeter belching miniscule white clouds.

Nevertheless, the drive around the rim and down the Chain of Craters Road revealed some superb vistas of both pahoehoe (puh-HOY-hoy (smooth and ropy) and a'a (ah! ah!)(sharp and cutty) lava.

There are several places you can stop along the road to see steaming vents. Shortly past the visitor center, a nicely fuming hole in the ground emits what may be pure water steam -- it has no scent I could detect. Around the west side and on the south edge, however, the vents are putting out much more noxious stuff. I hack-hacked for some time before getting smart and moving upwind. Duh. The photo with ferns, here, is looking down into the water steam vent, while barren earth surrounds the sulphurous vents (makes sense, huh?)

There are numerous flows of varying ages on the Chain of Craters road leading from the caldera down to the sea. It was a fascinating drive, with some really interesting lava deposits. One volcanic vent, about 6" across, was particularly compelling, being composed of red lava, while most of the other lava is black. The red makes it look H.O.T!

At 2:30 there was to be a nature walk at the Kipukapuaulu Bird Trail so I finished my caldera circuit in time to make that tour. There were over-arching tree ferns with furry bases, a huge hollow tree at whose base someone had left an offering tied up in leaves, and a ti plant, which is used for lots of things (like tying up offerings). More about ti plants later, and I'll put up the ti plant picture I took here when I do that.

I had taken a room for the night at Kulana Artist's Sanctuary near Volcano Village as I was hoping against hope that I could go back into the volcanic park after dark and see flowing lava, get the soles of my feet supernaturally hot by standing on a thin sheet of lava over a seething red lake of molten stone (okay, okay, that's a bit much, but I did really want to see flowing lava....).

But it turns out that the lava, which is currently flowing, is emerging in a roadless area. The closest visitors can get was some six miles distant. At the Visitor Center they SAID it would be a fabulous view of glowing red in the distance, but when it started to rain I opted to spend the night working on my journal and chatting with Cristina, who runs Kulana. All things considered, it was an excellent choice.

By the way, sometimes the journal page entries get slightly out of sequence when I need a place to write. The journal page with the caldera postacard glued to it has an entry written on December 21, after I left the volcanic park. Sorry 'bout that!


Unknown said...

Note to self...if there's nothing growing around the probably shouldn't be there either or at least get upwind! Thanks for the tip Irene!

Irene Brady said...

Hi ebear,
In this case, NOT getting upwind was not an option -- I was really surprised how much the sulphur made me cough! Guess I thought I would be superwoman.....

Here's a grab-bag of other entries...

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