Tag Archives: Kilauea

Signs: Yes, but…

Back in June, I went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to do a little hiking. The park had recently reopened and I thought it would be a good time to do some of the popular trails near the summit that are usually crowded. I was right about this because I saw hardly anyone all day.

One of the trails I hiked was the Byron Ledge Trail and when I got to a junction near the end of it I came across this sign. I knew the park had made the popular Kilauea Iki Trail one way, but I hadn’t known about it applying to any other trails.

As you might have guessed, I arrived at this spot from the pointy end of the arrow. I’d hiked the trail in the wrong direction. The problem was that there was nothing at the other end of the trail letting me know I shouldn’t enter. When I hiked Kilauea Iki later, it was the same: at the parking lot there was a sign saying hike this way, but nothing at the other entrances to the trail.

On my way out of the park I stopped at the entrance and mentioned this to the ranger on duty. When I returned to the park in August, I asked the ranger at the entrance if they were still doing one way traffic on some of the trails. She said they weren’t. I wasn’t surprised. To do it properly, it would require a lot of signage and, with the Visitor Center closed, it would be hard to get the message across to everyone who visits the park.

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

Mossy path on the Halemaumau Trail

The Halemaumau Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park takes hikers from near the visitor center down to the floor of the summit crater of Kilauea Volcano. It mostly passes through trees and some lush tropical foliage, this being the wet side of the island. Part of the way down the trail eases through a channel between two walls of rock, which are covered in moss. It’s a quite beautiful passage and, in this harsh volcanic area, has a remarkably soft feeling to it.

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

Part of Crater Rim Drive in Halemaumau Crater

Halemaumau Crater, at the summit of Kiluaea Volcano, underwent profound changes during the 2018 eruption. When lava drained from the summit vent, the crater floor experienced a series of collapses, radically changing the appearance of the crater and its surrounds.

I had seen this area from the air and posted about it (here). The middle photo was taken during that flight and shows where a section of Crater Rim Drive slid into the crater. When I last visited the park, I got a different view of this.

The recently reopened Byron Ledge Trail has good views across the crater. In the top photo, the chunk of road is clearly visible with its white line running down the middle of it. The bottom photo shows the longer view across the crater with the road in the distance. In the center of the photo, equipment used to monitor the volcano’s activity, can be seen. The tree in the foreground is an ‘ōhi‘a lehua with its brilliant red flowers. It’s an early colonizer of new lava flows and all those little dark spots on the main crater floor are ‘ōhi‘a lehua trees, mostly still shrub-sized at this time.

Kilauea Military Camp

This is a view across Chain of Craters Road, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, toward the flagpole and entrance of Kilauea Military Camp. The camp was founded in 1916, the same year as the park, as a rest and relaxation facility for military personnel. Today, it continues to fill that same function though the facilities are somewhat nicer than they were back then. There’s an array of cottages, a store, theater, sports facilities, gas station, laundromat, even a bowling alley.

While it’s been an R&R post for most of its existence, during WWII it was used as a prisoner of war camp and as a Japanese internment camp.

For more information about Kilauea Military Camp, go to https://www.kilaueamilitarycamp.com/. For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

Kilauea trails

Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recently opened up more areas of the park that had been closed because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. I thought this was a good opportunity to hike some of the summit trails that I usually avoid because they’re more accessible and popular with tourists. I put together a loop hike that would have been great had all the trails listed as open actually been open.

Despite this glitch, I had a good time and enjoyed the variety of landscapes the park has to offer. The top photo shows the part of the Kilauea Iki Trail that traverses that crater. The crater floor is a little under a mile across. This crater used to be much deeper before an eruption in 1959 filled it up another 400 feet. There is some vegetation, but the crater floor is mostly bare lava and steam can often be seen rising in various places.

The middle photo was taken on the Halema‛uma‛u Trail, which winds down from the summit into Halema‛uma‛u Crater. Despite the trail’s proximity to the vent in the crater, which was active until May 2018, vegetation thrives here as it does on many trails in the park.

The bottom photo shows a section of active steam vents alongside the Crater Rim Trail. This section of the trail is paved because the area normally sees very heavy use. When I was there, it was mostly deserted because of the lack of tourists on the island. The buildings on the horizon are the Volcano House Hotel which recently reopened for business, though the restaurant is still closed.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/. For more information about Volcano House Hotel, go to hawaiivolcanohouse.com/.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

Kilauea lava

Lava fountains flare up alongside the rim of the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano.
The walls of the crater illuminated by the lava.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Mother Earth.’ See more offerings here.

The Big Island is home to Madame Pele, who in Hawaiian culture is the goddess of volcanoes. She is the creator of new land as well as a destroyer. These photos were taken on April 24, 2018. (An account of that visit, and more photos, can be found here.) On May 1, the lava in the lake began to drop. Within a week, it had dropped more than 700 feet and continued falling. Lava had also disappeared from Pu’u O’o, the other active vent on Kilauea.

The drop in lava levels was due to magma in the system moving down the east rift zone of the volcano where it emerged in a series of vents in Leilani Estates, a housing subdivision in the southeast part of the island. This new eruption lasted until late August, 2018, since when the volcano has been quiet.

While there has been no visible activity, below ground, magma has been moving through the system, notably into Kilauea’s summit chamber. It’s surely only a matter of time before Madame Pele makes her presence known again on one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

The early morning light shows the crater and land around Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. This is a scene that no longer exists. Since this photo was taken, not only is the vent no longer active, but the crater floor has collapsed numerous times and the walls have also subsided in places.

Colorful pahoehoe lava

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Art Unexpected.’ See more responses here.

This was a timely topic since, a couple of days ago, I went for a hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I headed out on the Puna Coast Trail, one of several longer trails west of Chain of Craters Road, that I haven’t explored before. (I’ll do a post about the trail once I’ve gone through the way-too-many photos I took that day!)

One of the highlights of the trail was the extensive areas of colorful pahoehoe lava. I’ve lived here a while now and I know lava doesn’t just come in basic black. I’ve seen lighter and darker flows; I’ve seen flows with a brown tint; I’ve seen flows with hints of red or green in them. But prior to this hike, I had never seen flows with such a variety of vibrant colors.

Instant Hawaii has a description of different types of lava (here) and they say “All the differences in pahoehoe flows stems completely from the temperature of the lava as well as chemical composition. Since both can change during a flow – it is possible to get all types of pahoehoe flowing from a single flow, over time.” I would also say that, what they call ‘quiet flow’ lava, is an apt description of these areas. When I was walking over them I thought they seemed harder and more metallic than the surrounding black pahoehoe lava, which tends to crunch a bit when walked on.

But the other thing I thought, as I found myself continually stopping, stooping, snapping photos, was that these flows were art, Madame Pele’s art, and that wasn’t something I was expecting when I set out on the hike.

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

Pohoiki beach

The Big Island’s newest black sand beach, at Pohoiki, was formed during last year’s eruption of Kilauea Volcano. Soon after its formation, offerings appeared at the beach and coconuts were planted.

For coconut planting, all that’s required is to plunk an unhusked coconut on the beach and wait. The coconut will sprout, as in these photos, but it can still be moved after it has sprouted as its roots are mostly fairly shallow. It’s tolerant of salinity, but likes regular rainfall, both of which are features of this location.

In several years, this somewhat stark black sand beach will become another scenic palm-lined tropical beach. That’s assuming the volcano doesn’t send another flow in this direction, in which case it might look more like the background of the bottom two photos.