Following our beach day in the Kona and Kohala coast area, and then our drive to Volcano, HI with a few stops along the way, Laura and I had two full days in the National Park. Unfortunately, it rained like crazy the first day. We were told it was the heaviest rain the area had gotten in years. But we ventured into the park anyway, hoping to catch a break in the downpour. We stopped at the visitor center for some recommendations on hikes, and Mark, a ranger, convinced us that despite the rain, and despite the forecast for 24 more hours of rain, the park was filled with “micro climates” and there could be plenty of relatively dry areas. So we decided to take our chances and go for a hike.
We drove a few miles into the park, and then the weather improved slightly. Seemed like a reasonable opportunity, so we started the Kilauea Iki trail, which was the most highly recommended hike and also happened to begin right where we were when the rain stopped. It’s a 4 mile loop that begins along a the Kilauea crater rim and then descends into a crater where you walk across a hardened lava lake from an eruption in 1959. We enjoyed the first mile, and then the downpour kicked back in. In a big way. So we got soaked for three miles, but the landscape was still impressive.
The weather wasn’t great for photos, but I got a few while we were walking across the lava lake, which looks like a giant parking lot that was destroyed by an earthquake.
The next day we woke up early and the rain had stopped, so we went back into the park to explore a bit more and do a couple more hikes. We first stopped at the Thurston lava tube, which is a tunnel created by lava flow about 100 years ago. It feels a bit like walking through a cave. We arrived before 8am and were the only people there. By 10am it seems to get packed with tour buses, so early was good.
On the drive back, we did another hike up Mauna Ulu. I didn’t get many interesting landscape shots, but focused quite a bit of some of the plants we saw along the way:
Afterwards, we went back to our cabin for lunch, and then ventured out on an 8 mile hike to see some lava flow, which I’ll cover in the next post.