Friday, March 7, 2014

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 2014

We keep coming back to this park. There's trails at sea level, there's a trail going to almost 14,000 feet to the snow-capped summit of Mauna Loa, and there's plenty trails in between.

On two recent trips, we backpacked to remote areas where we pitched our tent. 

This time (March 2014) we stayed at the newly earthquake-proofed park lodge (Volcano House) for two nights. We started all our hikes, right there, without having to drive to a trailhead. 

I will never tire of the contrasts as we hike down the side of Kilauea caldera through a fern forest, only to have the view open up to huge lava fields.

For me, hiking is not sightseeing. Sightseeing, with its marketing-speak, is destined to fall short of expectations. Hiking, on the other hand, does not come with this baggage. Whether it's a lava field, or an abandoned industral site, it's my job to walk and absorb. 

This park, though, has plenty obvious sights to see and appreciate.

Within Kilauea's caldera there is a a second caldera, Halema'uma'u Crater. Many years ago we we could walk right up to the edge of Halema'uma'u. These days it is quite active, emitting molten lava and a poison gas plume.

In the evening, at dinner in the Volcano House, we could see the red glow of the lava reflected in the plume.

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