Tag Archives: Lava

Home is where the tube is

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians
A sign in front of a lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians

The public parking area for shoreline access at Mauna Lani is some distance from the ocean. From the parking lot, the trail meanders across some old lava, but off to one side is this interesting little spot.

It’s part of an old lava tube that was used as a shelter by early Hawaiians. Lava tubes are created when lava flows crust over on top, creating an insulated tube that lava continues to flow through. When an eruption ends and the supply of lava disappears, the lava drains out of the tunnel it’s been flowing through and a hollow tube is left.

As the sign at the entrance says, the tube would have been cool during the heat of the day, but would also protect from wind and rain. These days, the floor is strewn with rocks, but when used for habitation, any rocks would have been removed leaving a reasonably smooth floor. In the photos, the ceiling looks low, but I’m over six feet tall and didn’t have to duck. It’s a big area.

The top photo shows the entrance taken from the back of the tube. The bottom photo is taken from the entrance, looking toward the back.

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians

First visit to Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Meaningful Memories.’ See more responses here.

This seemed like an opportune time to revisit my first visit to Hawaii, back in 2010. My wife and I stayed in a vacation rental near Captain Cook, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. The sky was hazy with vog from Kilauea Volcano, but the place was awash with colorful flowers. Just down the road was the Painted Church and at the foot of the hill, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park celebrates Hawaiian culture and history with its wooden ki’i and towering palms.

We traveled the whole island from the black sand beach at Pololu (even if we had to pass the carcass of a dead whale twice) to the black sand beach at Punalu’u, dotted with resting green turtles, and rocky surrounds. There were waterfalls big and small, and roads lined with tropical foliage leading to the active lava flow at that time.

There, signs warned that flowing lava is dangerous (who knew?), but we were still able to get within 10 feet of oozing tongues of red, and saw small fires still burning in nearby brush.

There was even a house for sale: ‘Buy now before it burns!’ We didn’t, though that house still stands while others, much farther from that scene, have since been consumed by subsequent flows.

It was this visit that prompted us to return permanently two years later. Hawaii isn’t paradise – it has its pros and cons like any place – but we haven’t regretted the move and are looking forward to the next 10 years.

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.

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

Mauna Ulu

A view of Mauna Ulu crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
A view of Mauna Ulu crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Burlywood.’ (See more responses here.) It’s a color I’d never heard of before, apparently a shade of khaki. I’ve gone for some photos of Mauna Ulu, a crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The Mauna Ulu eruption took place between 1969 and 1974 and transformed the landscape of the park. A good guide to the eruption can be found here. These days, it’s a quiet area and plants have gained a foothold in the main crater, though the slopes are still mostly barren. And it’s those slopes, seen from the air, that have a pronounced khaki, or burlywood color.

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

A view of Mauna Ulu crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

A tree growing out of a tree

A tree growing out of a lava tree

Becky’s Squares challenge theme for July is ‘Trees.’ See more responses here.

Trees tend to be vertical and thus represent a bit of a problem for a squares challenge. However, I am nothing if not devious, and a rectangle can be nothing more than a collection of squares! By way of compensation, these images feature two trees for the price of one.

The lower part of the image is a lava tree. This is the lava formation that can be left when a living tree is surrounded by a lava flow. But that lava tree then can be a platform for plants to grow in the hollow center. In this case, the plant that’s growing is another tree.

I’d add something about this representing the cycle of life, but that’s circular and thus wildly inappropriate for a squares challenge! For a little more about lava trees, see here.

The great outdoors

A view of Hualalai from the water
Hualalai from the water.
A sailboat enters Kawaihae Harbor
A sailboat returns to harbor.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Great Outdoors.’ See more responses here.

In Hawaii, people spend a great deal of time outdoors. It’s common for people to have an outdoor kitchen, sometimes their only kitchen, sometimes a second one where a barbecue is the featured cooking apparatus. Carports often feature chairs and tables with cars parked elsewhere. The lanai, or deck, is as well-used as any room in the house.

Outdoor activities are popular here, too. Many involve the ocean and its inviting water: swimming, snorkeling, paddling, and of course surfing. Plenty of people go fishing and hunting, longtime sources of food for the table.

For me, experiencing the great outdoors primarily involves hiking and snorkeling. Hiking isn’t especially popular here, especially along the coast where it can get quite hot. I get strange looks when I hike the length of popular beaches togged out in hiking gear, including shoes, hat, and fanny pack loaded with water. For most, the beach is a place for stretching out and broiling in the sun, not actively working up a sweat.

The vast majority of photos on this blog are taken in the great outdoors. These photos are a small selection of things I’ve seen while out and about, from sweeping views to birds and bugs.

A view of Kohala Coast from Koai'a Tree Sanctuary
A view of the south Kohala Coast from Koai’a Tree Sanctuary
View of Mauna Kea from Pu'u Wa'awa'a bench
A view of Mauna Kea from Pu’u Wa’awa’a.