Saturday, May 19, 2012

HAWAII PART II: LAVA

On Monday we hired a Kalapana resident to guide us out to the active lava flow. We drove out to his house ridiculously early. It was located on top of the 1980s-90s lava flow that covered up the subdivision that used to be there. A handful of independent spirits have rebuilt houses on top of the lava and are living pretty much off the grid, but not uncomfortably.
Hiking out over the lava field was fascinating but really difficult. The slow moving pahoehoe lava flow hardens in such interesting patterns and shapes that are a real pain in the ass to walk over.
Sure, we were smiling at first. But blood was drawn, the sun was merciless, and about half-way there I had one of those "I'm not as young as I used to be" moments. We soldiered on nonetheless.
When we got there, I felt the heat before I saw the flow. Our guide took us across some very recently cooled lava and you could still feel heat emanating up from the ground. It was a little unnerving, but awesome.
We all regressed to childhood and wanted to poke the lava with sticks and throw rocks into it. Watching it was mesmerizing. Although it moves slowly it just keeps coming and we had to retreat several times as the lava overtook our viewing area.
We sacrificed a banana to Pele.
It was mesmerizing to watch. Maybe it was part heat-stoke and/or post-work-out euphoria, but seeing new land being formed before my eyes was both awe-inspiring and humbling.
The hike back happened. No one got injured and we all made it. We rewarded ourselves with cold beer and margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in Pahoa (which also had excellent, though non-traditional, fish tacos). We had to complete the volcano circuit, so we visited Volcanoes National Park and got a look at the caldera before we called it a day.

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