18 July 2006

Into the Fire: Volcano, Part One

As I mentioned in my last post, the guest cottage in Volcano was quite tiny, but the monkeys found it very romantic.


They were also fond of our host, Ira.


So they decided to stay in while we spent our first day exploring the park. We initially walked a bit of the rim of Kilauea caldera & got to see the Halema'uma'u crater, where the goddess Pele is said to live.


Despite being fairly sunny at first, it was a very windy day out and a bit brisk. On our way to the crater overlook, we passed these Red Hat ladies sitting near the caldera rim.


When we were returning to our car a short time later, something seemed different about them.


As we continued on around the caldera rim, a cloud began to roll in over the far edge, so that by the time we reached the trail to hike down into the adjacent Kilauea Iki crater, we were right in the middle of the cloud mist and the anticipated heat never arrived. We hiked down the 400 foot vertical drop along a trail that looked like this,


but at the bottom, the lush vegetation abruptly gave way to this.


Anyone up for storming the Dark Lord's fortress?

One of the few things growing on this crater floor, which last erupted in 1959, were the omnipresent 'Ohi'a trees, which are the first trees to grow and bloom after an eruption.


As we (slowly) made our way back up the steep trail and returned to our car, we saw several large Kalij pheasants, which were imported here from the Himalayas. They were not included in the list of non-native species the Park Service is trying to eradicate from the park, so I assume that their impact is relatively more benign. Although a little bit shy, they didn't seem overly perturbed by our presence.


After that rather exhausting hike, we took a break for dinner before heading down Chain of Craters Road to see the lava flow by night. That, however, will have to wait until next time.