Okay people, listen up! This was the absolute highlight of our whole trip and I’m pretty sure it will end up being one of the highlights of a lifetime! Before we get started here I want to just query each of my family about what they thought of this lava flow experience. Here’s a sampling:
Walking is not something I do.....as in physically exerting myself much, but if I had to walk for this experience I would have gone twice as far to see this! --Bradley K Beagles
(And that is the truth, I have traveled with this guy extensively and he doesn’t go very far on foot to see anything!)
It’s dope! --Mackay Beagles (Is that good?)
It was cool! One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen --Liz Beagles (She should know, she is the closest thing to cool, hip and happening at our house.)
This should be illegal! --Amanda Beagles (Who does by the way have first hand knowledge about what is legal.....T.P. ing someones house....illegal!)
Well, there you have it. Are you getting to feeling that this was pretty rad? We really didn’t know what to expect. We had heard that basically you just walk out to the lava flow and BAM there it is, you get to see lava flowing. Okay, so, what makes this safe? What makes this sane? What makes this something people sign up for and pay money to do? We will answer all of those questions and more in this lovely little blog post about what I like to call Our Extreme Lava Flow Adventure.
We started out at about 3:30pm on Thursday afternoon at the lovely Arnett’s Lodge (you’ve seen pictures previously in this blog) in our familiar out door waiting room, consisting of some plastic chairs, two bamboo couches and a plethora of vending machines to help you get stocked up on snacks for the drive out to the volcano. We were greeted by our sturdy guides Brandon and Michael. Two native Hawaiian boys who seemed to have made quite a few trips out to the lava flow in their life time. They spent the 45 minute ride filling us with facts about the island and the volcano and prepping us for our 8.5 mile round trip, half of which would be done before sundown and the other half we would be walking in the dark. I didn’t think too much of this as we started out on a well graveled path, until Brandon took an abrupt veer to the right and strode out across the field of lava flow rock. This rock that we were walking on looked exactly like the lava had just flown over it yesterday with lumps and bumps, huge deep cracks and ripples across the surface. It was crazy to walk on, no trail at all because it was all rock and so we just followed along the best we could with one guide in front and the other bringing up the rear, making sure we didn’t leave anyone behind.
About half way there we reached the ocean and from there we walked along the top of the cliffs. This was so cool because it was beautiful watching the ocean and Brandon showed us how Black Sand Beaches are formed. It happens when the Lava hits the ocean and some of it shatters into tiny pieces. It starts out rough but within a few months the ocean rounds the edges of the sand and there you have it the newest black sand beach.
We could see the plumes of smoke and so we knew where we were headed. The terrain we were crossing was so interesting because some of it had no recent lava flow at all and then we would be walking on sections where you could still feel the heat of it and you could see the trees that it took out in it’s path and didn’t entirely consume. It was kind of freaky to think that just a few weeks ago the lava was flowing exactly where you were walking.
|A recent lava flow that took out these trees|
As we grew closer to the smoke plume, our destination, Brandon had us stop and take off anything we didn’t need. Then we all, one by one, crossed a chasm in the rocks and when we came up on the other side he took us a few at a time over to the lava flow. You could feel the heat before you even approached it. He helped us to step up onto the day or hours old lava flow in order to take a picture up close and personal with the lava flow. As I looked down on what I was standing on you could see a red hot glow coming from the cracks. In fact if you stayed on it too long your shoes started to smoke. As Brandon was taking our picture Amanda went to bend down and Brandon said, “Don’t touch the lava rock, it is very hot!” Okay, that freaked me out, just a little. After we took pictures I turned to really look at the lava flow and I was absolutely floored. It was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. We were so close you could see it just pouring into the ocean. The waves were beating against it and causing it to spark and spurt into the air. You could hear the sizzle as the hot magma hit the cold ocean and see the steam pour off of it. It was one of those surreal moments when you say to yourself, I can’t believe I am standing here.....right here.....watching this. Absolutely, hands down one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.
|Up Close and Personal|
So enjoy the video and the pictures, I think we really captured much of the experience to take home with us and remember it. I have to admit here that I had nightmares that night. I don’t know if it is just me but I often have anxiety after the fact. Laying in bed that night and seeing it all again in my head I kept saying to myself, one misstep, one weak part in the crust of the lava we were standing on, one accidental touch, one really high explosion from the lava and.......oh my gosh, I realized how crazy this was.
As we were leaving we paused a little way back to gather our things and just to take it all in. As we all sat together and stared back at the lava it suddenly began to explode high into the air for several minutes. It was as if we got to see the grand finale, one last fireworks display. We certainly got our money’s worth out of this one. There was not one person there that night that regretted taking this crazy, unsafe, insane, expensive excursion. Not even during the long arduous walk back in the dark.