Hawaii 2012

Hawaii (Hilo)

3 July 2012

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Photographs and Commentary
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As we pulled into Hilo Harbor, the skies were gray and threatening. Not a good omen for a day that required good visibility for what we had planned to do today. We had reserved a car at the Hilo Airport and planned to drive to Hawaiian Volcano National Park and in particular Kilauea Volcano, the most active volcano in the world in the world.

We were among the first to depart the ship and caught the rental car shuttle to the airport, 3 miles from the port. No sooner did we make the turn to the airport road, the skies opened up in a downpour. We got in the car and drove up Highway 11 to the Visitor Center. The rain was intermittent on the way up and stopped completely when we got to the Visitor Center. Park rangers gave us information on park conditions and some idea of where to stop.

The Rim road was a way of completely circumnavigating the caldera but now only half of it is currently open to the public. This is due to high concentrations of Sulphur Dioxide gases being discharged from the Halema'uma'u Crater. Other areas of the park are also off limits to the public because of volcanic activity... Kilauea has been actively erupting since 1986. We drove west on the Rim Road stopping at the Steam Vents and the Jaggar Museum, the furthest point west currently accessible on the Rim Road. At the Jaggar Museum we got our best view of the Halema'uma'u Crater. At night you can see the glow from the lava pool (we had to be back on the ship long before nightfall).

We backtracked on the Rim Road past the Visitor Center and stopped at the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook. There is a trail that would lead us down to the floor of the crater. Unfortunately time and other factors prevented us from attempting the trail. A bit further down the road is the Thurston Lava Tube. We walked down to the tube, through it and looped back to where the car was parked. The Rim Road is closed at its intersection with the Chain of Craters Road. We passed a number of old craters, lava flows dating back to 1969 - 1974. We hit a bit of rain but it ended before we got to the end of the Chain of Craters Road. The Lava Flows from the ongoing eruptions have blocked the road and the area is considered to be hazardous because of high levels of volcanic gasses. The end of the road is on the southern coast of the island and the cliffs created by the various flows can be seen. What can also be seen is how the ocean is trying to recapture the new land created by the flows. The cliffs are being undercut by wave action and there is always the risk of collapse.

We thought about walking to the point where the lava flows from the current eruption crosses the road and walked a short way when we saw the rain coming our way. We made it back to the car before the rain came but it caught up with us as we were climbing back up the mountain. When we got to the Visitor Center it was still raining and we headed back towards Hilo.

There was one place Susie wanted to visit before we got to Hilo and that was the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut processing plant. We sampled some of the different "flavors" they enhance the nuts with and purchased some to take home. We dropped the car at the airport and were back on the ship by 3:15. This gave us some pool time before dinner and the evening activities. Despite the rain, it was a great day.

Steam vents adjacent to the Crater Rim Drive

Kilauea Caldera Steam Vent Overlook. The Halema'uma'u Crater is steaming in the center of this view.

Halema'uma'u Crater as seen from the Jaggar Museum


Kilauea Iki Crater last erupted in 1959. The eruption filled the crater with a lava lake 400 feet deep.

Fifty three years after its last eruption, hikers explore the crater floor


Susie at the entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube

Exiting the Thurston Lava Tube
Picture by Susie



Thurston Lava Tube. Color of the image is false due to the sodium vapor lights in use in the tube.

The path to the Thurston Lava Tube appears almost prehistoric. We took these pictures of a giant fern to show how the fronds form. The fiddlehead, at left is the beginning of the process. The picture on the right shows a partially formed frond (Picture by Susie).

Lava flow dating back to 1974

Small plants like this fern are among the first to get a foothold in the lava

New land formed from past eruptions. It was raining when I took this picture, but I wanted to show what it looked like. I was standing on an overlook about 1000 feet above the new land.

Lava cliffs at the southern end of the Island of Hawaii

Wave action is constantly eroding the cliffs. New lava flows from the Pu'u 'O'o crater continue to create new land at a faster rate.


Holei Sea Arch

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