Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Big Island: Volcanoes!

Some busy days and lack of internet for a night means we fell behind on logging. Let's catch up.

Sunday was a travel day. We flew from Kauai to Big Island and then drove south along the Kona coast on the way to Volcano, where we are staying for three nights. We stopped to get coffee and chocolate, but since it took two hours to get the rental car, things were closing as we came through. We did make one longer stop to snorkel at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, which not only has cool black sand but also TURTLES! We only saw one turtle, actually, but it was still wonderful. Also, there is cold freshwater that bubbles up from just offshore and floats on the top. This is cool, but it creates a haze when trying to see anything while snorkeling.
Real black sand - a finite resource
As we were driving toward Volcano we could see a red haze in the distance and knew that it was the vent within Halema'uma'u Crater. We of course immediately went there and gazed at the red glow with everyone else, waiting for something more exciting to happen.

The next morning we headed back to Volcano National Park and ran on most of the trails near the top. The best was running through the Kilauea Iki crater. I thought we got a late start, but we were the only people in the crater for most of it. Steam was rising from small cracks in the lava floor.

Steam Vents
 Then we drove the Chain of Craters road and stopped at all the things one should stop at - craters, sea arch, lava flows and petroglyphs.

Of course, the day ended with cheap and awesome sushi in Hilo, just as it always should.

So now today. Another slow morning, because sitting here and eating breakfast is just too beautiful. 

Today's run was by Mauna Lau, which erupted between 1969-1974. We continued onwards to the Napau Crater, which is the closest you can get to the current eruption on Pu'u 'O'o. It was an awesome run over the lava flow and then through dense tree fern rain forest. The lava running was great. I could do that all day. 

But the ferns were not so fun. The trail towards the end isn't well maintained and my legs were being scratched to pieces by dead ferns. Unfortunately, after we struggled down the trail (with many conversations about how we really should have a machete) we arrive at the crater and it's covered with vog (our new favorite word). We knew this would probably be the case, as we could smell the tell-tale lit match scent that comes from vog. Vog is mostly harmful because of the sulfur dioxide, which I'm hoping does not have any lasting effects as we breathed it in for about 2 miles. 

After running and a quick shower we went back to Hilo to see the sites. This meant three waterfalls and a lave tube. The Kaumana lava tube was by far the coolest thing I have done in a long time. There is just a sign saying don't die at the top, and then you're spelunking. We hiked both directions, stopping when we came to a junction because I didn't want to get lost forever down there. I only hit my head two times - I now see why they wear helmets. 
Flip-flops worked, but were not ideal.

Don't be fooled - the light is only from our headlamps.
Then the waterfalls. My favorite was Rainbow Falls, but not for the falls. I loved the mango trees dropping mangos on the ground and the giant banyan trees. It felt other worldly.

Moving north tomorrow!

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