Hawaii is a series of islands created through volcanic activity. However, when we honeymooned there seven years ago, it was the one major thing we didn’t fit into our itinerary, despite Aaron’s affinity for geology. Therefore, we were determined to explore it this time.
We had a delayed start after being up so late for the sunset and stars atop Mauna Kea the night prior. We were additionally groggy from the early morning wake-up call kindly provided by the vociferous chicken coop across the street from our rental. Throw in a stop in Hilo on our way to admire the banyans, and it was after noon before we reached the Volcanoes National Park.
A large section was closed due to toxic vog (volcanic gas – fog), but we were still able to hit a few of the major sites.
We started with the Thurston Lava Tube. I was surprised to find it rather lackluster. The paved trail dutifully herds the tourists in a short loop through the electrically-lit tube and back out. I took a few pictures, but we didn’t spend much time there. As an avid hiker, I much prefer the local Ape Caves for my lava tube adventures.
Next, we hit Devastation Trail. We weren’t out for a major hike, so we only hit a couple key sections. We stumbled upon a beautiful spider, and I found myself wishing for a macro lens (not for the first time, and next on my list to join my equipment lineup).
We walked along the road up to the closed section to admire the rising steam. This wasn’t quite close enough for a couple of our group, but I wasn’t feeling in the mood to ignore the “closed” signs (and I wouldn’t advise readers to do so). I was content to be ready to document their falling into a hidden lava tube.
Next on the list, we wanted to get down to the sea arch and the petroglyphs. However, we were short on time as we were also trying to catch sunset at the rim. We got about halfway down the hill before we realized we simply wouldn’t make it down and back up in time. Reluctantly, we turned around. Next time.
On our way back up the hill, we came upon a field with several steam vents that the adventurers couldn’t pass up. I wasn’t going to be left behind, so I cautiously followed, mildly fearing that each step would punch through hollow ground. We were worried a ranger might yell at us, but we escaped unscathed and with steamy pictures in-hand, so all was well.
We made it up to the rim in time for the sunset, and nature decided to gift us with a beautiful double rainbow.
Most departed after that, especially as it began to rain. We stuck around for true darkness to fall, taking refuge in the Jagger Museum. In the absence of sunlight, the crater showed its true colors (literally), and I was surprised to see that it glowed so brightly. We snapped a few pictures, but it was kind of miserable in the rain, so we didn’t stick around long.
Overall, I would have liked to have had a bit more time to explore, and I would have preferred clear skies (does it get dark enough to capture stars over that fiery glow?). We should have dedicated a full day, but I’m not disappointed with what we were able to accomplish.
I suppose this just gives us a reason to go back!