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Saturday, April 23, 2011

HAWAI'I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Day 152: Friday April 15, 2011

I took the picture above off of a sign.  Currently, there is no active (visible) lava flow.  We drove around Crater Rim Drive and hiked a few small trails and snapped some shots:

Steam Vents

Just past the Kilauea Visitor Center is a place where you can park and walk along the vents.  When you get right up on them, it feels like a steam room at a fitness club.  There is a lookout over a crater but we arrived in the early morning when the Vog was real thick.  The first couple of hours in the park was mixed with light rain but as the day grew older, the vog rose higher and cleared the way.  I cannot be certain but from the feel of it all, I suspect the vog from these steam vents create the atmospheric pressure and moisture in the air, which creates the rain forest and weather over Hilo.  By late day it rises higher than the 13k+ foot Mauna Kea mountain, which I once wrote about when I was keeping track of my daily elevation gains.  If I recall correctly, Mauna Kea is 33k+ feet in height from the ocean floor, which makes it the tallest mountain on the planet.  I did not climb it on this adventure, but as our former Cali Governor once said, I'll be back.  

 On a previous post I mentioned Tsunami dates.  Oops, guess they were lava dates...

 Outside Jaggar Museum

We then drove back past the visitor center and toward the Thurston Lava Tube.  We opted to hike the Kilauea Iki Trail, which is a 4-mile loop +400 feet elevation gain/loss through a rain forest and crater.  The Kilauea Iki Crater was formed from the 1959 lava flow...

 Trailhead from parking area

 After 30 minutes of rain forest hike/jog; we entered the crater




After the crater, you switchback up through the rain forest.  You will reach the Thurston Lava Tube parking area so we crossed the street and checked out the tube.  It's only a 5 minute walk to the tube.  The opening was welcoming and well lit.  You then have the option of exiting back into the forest or begin your decent toward the center of the earth.  I chose to explore.  Problem is, I did not have a flash light!  I didn't get too far because there was absolutely no light.  I was told by a local that there is an unknown lava tube just outside of Kona.  He said that it's a small opening but as you go lower, it opens up to a brilliant large football field size cavern.  Totally pitch black, you will need multiple 2-million candle watt flashlights to really absorb it.  The lava tube then continues and further down, an even larger cavern opens.  He said beyond there, you will need rock climbing gear to continue.  Hmm, maybe next time...
    
 Thurston Lava Tube Entrance

 Back into the rain forest.  Is this a lava tube?

 Where's Jessi?

Kilauea Iki Crater
 

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