Hawaii’s volcanoes are “shield” volcanoes. They don’t explode and spit lava, they let it gently flow out creating a beautiful landscape worth seeing.
“The volcano is erupting!” I heard someone shout. PERFECT I thought. How do I get there?
I asked around and after 20 minutes someone gave me a number of a local, who said he would bring me to the lava flow. He offered to do it for around 40$, which seemed to be a fair price considering I could put a stick into flowing lava, haha. Less did I know that I could have organised the whole tour on my own, not paying shit. But I had not known, so I happily followed the waving locks of my new to be tour guide into his jeep and off we went.
We parked the car close to the ocean at the East Rift and started to walk down the street south the coastal area until we hit Volcano National Park. A road sign was buried into cold lava and read “Road Closed”.
Yes, I guessed so.
We walked along fields of black lava and admired the shapes it has formed whilst cooling down. We walked and walked and walked heading towards the active lava flow bubbling out of the Kilauea crater. We couldn’t see anything yet, because it was still too bright, so we continued walking waiting for the sun to go down.
We stayed close to the ocean as the breeze prevented us from inhaling the toxic fumes we could barely see. Four hours had passed and we were still on our way. Walking and walking. It never seemed to end.
The sun was setting and a beautiful landscape emerged in front of us. Dark pink skies with blue clouds above a black ground made out of cold lava. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen.
We crossed another sign telling us, the road ended here and that we were not allowed to go any further. We passed the sign and followed the lights of our torches. Along the black ground were light spots that reflected the light of our torches so we wouldn’t get lost. We jumped over cracks in the floor and saw smoke coming out of them. Lava was below us, we just couldn’t see it yet.
It had gotten dark by now and we were moving inland towards the lava streams. We could see them glowing in a distance. Our tour guide wanted to turn around because we couldn’t see the toxic fumes anymore. I was willing to go on and so we did for another hour. We were too slow and it was too dangerous to continue, so we had to turn around.
Turning around in this case meant walking back for four hours with a sad stick in my hands that was not melted by flowing lava. Damn I was disappointed! We started to walk back and only now did I feel my feet. They were bleeding inside my shoes. I could see the lava far away. We hadn’t made it.
Kicking away my stick I swore to myself to come back and get close next time. At least I have an excuse to travel to Hawaii again now.