Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Big Island: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Part 2

We drove to the Thurston Lava Tube, which required us to walk down a path into a sinkhole. The sinkhole was absolutely the most lush, green and prehistoric place I have ever seen.




The lava tube was huge, at least 11 feet in diameter.


After walking through the fern jungle and the lava tube, we drove to one of the many marked trails that cross the lava fields on the slopes of Kilauea. By contrast, the lava fields are stark and barren, and there are thousands of acres of them, running all the way down to the sea.

Most of it is tumbled and jumbled, like this example. Hikers are warned about the arduous effort needed to hike any distance across this terrain.


Some lava is smoother, and thus more easily navigated by older tourists with artificial knees. This example shows a smooth lava flow that was partly covered by a flow of blocky lava. That flow is about 8 feet thick.



This is where a bubble of gas burst through the crust as the lava was cooling.


Here is where the flowing lava became so thick and viscous that it globbed over a boulder and formed a small cave. The ceiling is covered with “lava drips.”


Some lava cools to such a smooth surface that it has a pearly iridescence.


One of the first plants to colonize fresh lava is this little fern, known in Hawaiian as ‘ae.


I found this spot where lava had partly covered the road, so of course I had to have this picture.


As we hiked around, my wife and I picked up specimens of the lava, some of which are “frothy” and lightweight. We were able to lift rocks the size of an engine block quite easily. I stuffed my pocket with some small pieces.


But the edges of those bubbles are sharp as razors, so when I got back to the hotel, I discovered that the rocks had poked their sharp edges through the lining of my pocket and sliced up my leg.


On the drive home from the park, we noticed lots of signs warning us about the state bird of Hawaii, the Nene Goose. But during our entire trip, we never saw a single one.



I was seriously creeped out by these Tsunami Warning Signs. When you drive inland from the coast, you see these signs with a little man running away from the tsunami.


But when you drive towards the coast, you see these signs with the same little man running towards the tsunami. What the hell is he thinking?


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