Let’s travel back to Hawai’i. It’s March. And Pete and I are in search of sun and new terrain to explore. After hanging out in Kona, we head to Hilo via Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
The first day started with an outstanding meal at the Volcano House. We ate there twice. With a view over the Kilauea Caldera, the Halema’uma’u Crater venting, it was my first glimpse into an active volcanic process. Wait…I’ve been to Yellowstone NP. The Hawaiian chain was created by volcanoes which con’t to add land mass in a more fluid, less explosive manner than what we commonly associate with volcanoes. In this park, 70 million years of activity are showcased. It was fascinating. The visitors center is packed with learning.
We chose the Destruction Trail hike that day. From it’s start, there’s an overlook into the Kilauea Iki Crater. A popular day hike, the Kilauea Iki Trail passes through the crater below. The last violent eruption of the Kilauea crater occurred in 1959. Lava filled to the demarcation of brown and green you see on the opposite wall.
Our trail set off through forest, thick and gnarled, twisted while lush at the same time. This trail is wheelchair accessible.
Pre-historic looking vegetation abounds.
The trail pops you out into this lunar landscape. It’s breathtaking.
Pu’u Pua’i is the cinder cone in the background. It formed with the 1959 eruption. The crater above, for reference, is tucked down behind the cone in this photo.
The view is dry and sparse. Bits of vegetation slowly grow. I found it quite beautiful.
Many sunken spots pock the land. Our knowledgeable friend and natuaralist explained to me the land continues to shift and change.
This is the Ōhelo berry and plant. Related to the cranberry, they are edible but protected in this park, being the food for the beloved Nene Goose. I thought the color against the cinders striking.
Our walk took us to the start of Byron’s Ledge Trail. It was stunning! We parked ourselves here and drank in the sounds, sights and smells.
There’s just no way to capture all that in a photo so I’ve uploaded a video I took, a meager substitute.
I’m not knowledgeable on taking video and making it look great. Imagine the birdsong magnified so it completely fills the space, several times louder than you hear, almost deafening. We gaped. And listened. And enjoyed.
A real treat, Ohi’a lehua flower buds and blooms up close:
The blooms’ nectar feeds the Crimson honeycreeper. Check out this page for some fun facts about the plant and some photos of it’s aerial roots (which don’t reach the ground but collect moisture from the air).
This pretty little plant I cannot find information about.
My mind spun at the foreign nature of the land and the flora.
Later that night we returned and saw the park at night. The gasses from the first photo in this post glowed in the dark. Some lucky visitors see lava. On this night, no lava percolated out. But still, what a thrill!
I’d spend a whole week at this park next visit.
Next leg of the trip, into Hilo.