One thing Facebook is very efficient at is telling you what you were up to one…three…five…etc years ago. It was one year ago we vacationed on the Big Island of Hawai’i. My son, wife, and I each chose one “big” thing to do while we were there. My “big” thing was to arrange for participation in a hike with “Epic Lava“. The eruption of the Pu’u ‘O’o vent had been going on since 1983, and while changes in the eruptive activity had often occurred since then, the eruption was relatively reliable, for those willing to hike to an area of actively flowing lava. Epic Lava Tours took visitors on hikes, promising to take you right up to active lava flows.
It was safe. It was semi-predictable. So we met the tour group at some ridiculously early time (4:00 AM?), and drove down to the southeastern coast. The road was closed at one point, and thus it was necessary to hike a few miles to get to the area of actively flowing lava. Epic Lava tried to time it so you arrived right around dawn, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. The sun rose just a few minutes before we reached an area where we saw our first actively flowing lava.
It was…incredible. It was mesmerizing watching the slowly moving lava, with sudden “breakouts” getting folks excited as we moved from location to location in search of the latest, newest flow. The HEAT was incredible. I guess we should have expected that, right? It’s molten rock! But it certainly amazing to not only see the lava from close range, but FEEL the heat and energy emanating from it.
A trip of a lifetime! Today…one year later…The Pu’u ‘O’o vent has collapsed, after a 35-year run of continuous eruptions! Today’s activity is certainly much more “exciting”, with occasional lava fountaining and a massive, molten river of lava that dwarfs what we saw. That activity is obviously devastating to those who have had their lives disrupted. The disruption extends to Epic Lava Tours, as that predictable, “safe” Pu’u ‘O’o flow is no longer available, and the owner is fighting for the right to bring visitors to the newest volcanic sights on the island. But once you see it, you’re “hooked”, and want to do it again. We hope to visit the Big Island again some day and see what sights Kilauea has to offer.
For now…today’s photo of the day, an example of the activity from Pu’u ‘O’o from last year.