Tag Archives: Kilauea

Halema’uma’u trail and crater

A view of Halemaumau Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Recently, for this month’s Becky’s Squares theme of “Walking” (See more responses here), I’ve been posting some local walks. Today, I thought I’d revisit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and one of my current favorite trails there.

The top photo is taken from the Byron Ledge trail which crosses the edge of the Kilauea Caldera to join the Halema’uma’u trail. From this junction, the original Halema’uma’u trail traverses the caldera to the edge of Halema’uma’u Crater. That trail has been closed since 2008 because the volcano has been, and currently still is, erupting there. Kilauea Caldera is large and the eruption is two miles from the trail in the top photo, but I always get a bit of a tingle from walking across the caldera floor so close to volcanic activity.

That’s not the only reason I like this trail though. It arrives at the caldera floor by winding down from the rim though some lovely tropical foliage and a moss-covered cutting through rocks that I always stop and photograph even though it doesn’t change from one visit to the next.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Switchbacks

A switchback on the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
A switchback on the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most popular in the park, but I’ve never found it crowded when I’ve been there. It features two very different environments, the walk around the heavily wooded crater rim and the crossing of the barren lava on the crater floor, about 400 feet below.

Since the trail is a loop, one has to descend the steep crater wall at one end and climb up the equally steep crater wall at the other. At both ends, the trail is heavily switchbacked to make this possible. For the hiker, the positives of this are that the trail is less steep than a straight shot would be, and the switchbacks are good spots to take a break and get a variety of views.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/. Posted for Becky’s Squares theme of “Walking” (See more responses here).

A switchback on the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The trail across the crater floor.

A look back at 2021

A Hawaiian monk seal resting
January: Hiwahiwa, a male Hawaiian Monk Seal born in 2020, rests at Upolu. Haven’t seen any monk seals since this encounter. (Link)

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘2021 in Your Rear-View Mirror.’ See more responses here. I’ve gone with a favorite photo from each month of 2021, with a caption and link to the post the photo first appeared in.

Wainanali’i lagoon at Kiholo, Hawaii at Kiholo, Hawaii
February: I love hiking at Kiholo Bay. There’s plenty to see and shady spots to rest awhile. (Link)
Spinner dolphins in the waters off the Big Island, Hawaii
March: Swimming with dolphins! Need I say more. (Link)
An I'iwi calls in a forest off Saddle Road, Hawaii
April: Another favorite hike, on Pu’u O’o Trail off Saddle Road, and an endemic I’iwi singing its heart out. (Link)
Close up of a coastal manta ray approaching
May: This inquisitive Manta Ray kept returning, probably wondering how something so clumsy-looking could survive in the water. (Link)
A Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly perched on a twig
June: I like seeing little creatures, such as this Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly, and I’m thrilled when the photos turn out. (Link)
Three palm trees in Hawaii
July: I like palm trees and word play so this was too tempting to pass up for Becky’s Tree Squares. (Link)
A school of mackerel scads, or Opelus being hunted by a rainbow runner off Hawaii
August: An instant in the water – a school of Mackeral Scads chased by a Rainbow Runner. They went by in a matter of seconds. (Link)
Red-masked parakeets at Kohanaiki Beach Park.
September: These Red-Masked Parakeets are not native, but they’re oh so tropical. (Link)
Early morning lights at the port of Kawaihae, Hawaii
October: When I have time, on my way to work, I stop at Kawaihae. I might see anything from a glorious sunrise, to a tiny crab on the beach, to these port lights. (Link)
The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021
November: Kilauea erupted again so I had to go look. The eruption is still going, but a little erratically these days. (Link)
A Green turtle, with a slender remora on its shell, checks out the photographer
December: A recent encounter and maybe my favorite Hawaiian Green Turtle photo. (Link)

Going to see the fireworks

The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021
The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021
The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021

Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day in Britain and to celebrate I finally got to see some fireworks, albeit of a very different kind and in the wee hours of the morning instead of the traditional Bonfire Night.
I got up just after 1 a.m., left the house around 2 a.m. and drove over to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I mostly had a beautiful starlit night for the drive except for about 15 minutes over the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa when I was driving through cloud and not entirely sure whether there was any other traffic despite barreling along at 60 mph.

I made good time, arriving at the park around 4:30 a.m. and the viewing point about 15 minutes later. There were around 20 people already there, but a prime viewing spot was open so I set up my tripod and camera and began taking photos.

The viewing area was a place I’d stopped by during the previous eruption in December 2020. That spot only allowed a view of the glow of the eruption, which was lower in the crater. This time the eruption was higher up and the trail had been extended so that a good view could be had of both the eruption site and the crater floor the lava was flowing onto.

The eruption began on September 29, 2021 through a series of vents, but by October 4 this had settled down to two vents and by October 6 to the single vent in the west wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater seen in these photos.

The eruption has added about 184 feet of lava to the previous lava lake level and though it appears to have slowed a tad lately, it still put on a good show with a good deal of spattering and some smaller fountains of lava. The active vent has formed its own cone with lava spilling into the lake through a gap in the cone. Recently, a bridge formed over that cone so that the lava spills out though a short tunnel as can be seen in these photos.

I stuck around until the sun rose high enough to illuminate the slopes of Mauna Loa and then headed back to the car. After a spot of hiking, the return drive and some shopping in Waimea. I got home around 2:30 p.m.. A long day, but well worth it in my book.

Later that same day

A view towards Hualalai volcano
A view towards Hualalai volcano, obscured by vog

I took the top photo on my way to work one early morning. It’s a tranquil scene (the reason I go down there) shot from the beach below Pu’ukohala Heiau in Kawaihae. The second photo was shot on my way home in mid-afternoon. It was taken from the same beach in roughly the same place and looking in roughly the same direction.

Astute observers will see past the similarities in the photos and notice something is missing. Hualalai Volcano has disappeared. Now, it’s not unreasonable to think that those puffy white clouds in the second photo have something to do with this, but that’s not really the case. True, they might mask the upper reaches of the volcano, but the whole thing? No, the culprit is the fuzzy band between the clouds and the land – vog!

The latest eruption of Kilauea Volcano, which began on September 29th, is churning out vog, which forms when volcanic gases interact with sunlight, air, moisture, and dust. Two days later, when these photos were taken, it was having a visible effect. I’d noticed the vog drifting up the west side of the island during the morning and by afternoon visibility was greatly reduced. But it’s not just visibility that’s affected. Vog is especially troublesome for people with breathing difficulties, but can also irritate the eyes and skin of just about anyone.

Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Past Squares – Time.’ See more responses here.

Kilauea erupts again

Activity at Kilauea in April 2018

Yesterday afternoon, around 3:20 p.m., Kilauea Volcano began a new eruption. Like the previous one, from December 2020 to May 2021, the eruption is in Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at the summit of the volcano. That eruption created a lava lake in an area that collapsed in 2018 when the main activity moved down the east rift zone to the Leilani Estates Subdivision. This new eruption has reactivated the lake in the crater.

These photos are from the 2018 activity in Halemaʻumaʻu crater shortly before the level of the lava lake dropped and the crater floor collapsed.

Activity at Kilauea in April 2018

Halemaumau Crater

A view of Halemaumau Crater and Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The latest eruption at Kilauea Volcano has recently been declared paused. It was never an especially dramatic eruption, but when I went down a few days after it began (here) the sky was illuminated by the activity. In recent weeks though, the lava lake formed by the eruption crusted over completely and lava from the active vent was also hidden from view.

The photos are two views of Halemaumau Crater, taken before this latest eruption. In the top one, the collapsed floor of the crater is on the left. This is what the new lava lake was filling up. On the ridge, to the right side of the photo, is the low profile of the Jaggar Museum, which was closed after the 2018 eruption and likely won’t reopen.

The bottom photo shows the easternmost edge of Halemaumau Crater, which wasn’t greatly impacted by this eruption or the events of 2018. Consequently, the walls of the crater are quite green and the floor is dotted with plants. These plants are mostly ohia trees, which are among the first plants to grow in lava fields, in part because their roots will tap into lava tubes to find moisture and nutrients.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea’s eruptions, go to nps.gov/havo/.

A view of Halemaumau Crater from the Byron Ledge Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park