Gone to a place that is unknown to many...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Volcano, Hawaii

If you ask me for my top moment at Hawaii, I would have to pick the moment when I actually hiked across the lava flows and witnessed the glowing orange molten lava entering the ocean. It produced a huge fume and you would have to see it with your own eyes.

It all started when I entered the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I also made a 20-mile trip from the visitor center to the lava flow. If you ask me, yes, there is an active volcano.

Kilauea Volcano is probably the most active volcano in the world. The eruption of the volcano started in 1983 and is still ongoing. I also learned that there is a submarine volcano named Loihi. As of right now, it is only 970 meters below the sea level. It would take at least dozen thousands years before it finally merge. There is also a chance that it might never merge at all.

An aerial view of Kilauea Volcano

Yes, I did take a helicopter tour around the volcano, but I would strongly recommend you to hike across the lava flows. If you take a helicopter, the excitement isn't the same if you hike across the flows to see the molten lava entering the ocean.

Walking across the lava flows

When I hiked across the lava flows, I noticed that there were many tourists who actually wore gloves. Yes, these volcanic rocks are very sharp! My North Face hiking boots took a lot of abuses and you could see a lot of scratches on these boots.


The picture you saw above was the lava flow covering the road. I would have to say that it is one of the coolest views in the park.

I decided to take a night hike in hope of seeing glowing orange molten lava. Of course, I had to do my homework before I started hiking. I asked a park ranger a lot of questions and stayed updated on the condition for the trail. I brought two oranges and two 1.5-liters bottles of water with me. I would later realized that I should have brought six oranges with me. A flashlight is a must, especially for a night hiking.

I started my night hike at 5 pm and it took almost two good hours before I reached the ending point. I made it right before the sunset, and the view of glowing orange molten lava entering the ocean was really unbelievable!

The molten lava entering the ocean

I stayed there for an hour and enjoyed the creation of God. I cannot think of a word that would describe a feeling of seeing new earth being formed at NIGHT. I would definitely camp there overnight if I had more time. From there, you could see tourists enjoying the view and not saying a word at all.

One more snapshot before I leave the park

Overall, the night seven-miles hike took me about five hours (with one hour of viewing the molten lava). Now, few of you might ask me whether I brought any volcanic rock with me. I was told not to take a volcanic rock with me when I leave Hawaii. I've often heard of stories of people who were cursed for taking volcanic rocks.

When I was a RIT student, I had two Hawaiian roommates - Karl and Jared. I remember how Christine asked Jared to bring sands from Hawaii. Karl warned Jared not to do it or he would be cursed. Jared went ahead and did it anyway. Karl and I do remember how Jared was plagued with a lot of bad luck within few weeks after bringing sands to Rochester.

I don't think I would want to mess with the goddess of Pele by taking a volcanic rock with me! What matters the most is the fact that I left Hawaii with a great memory!