3:30AM they said. Meet outside the cabin at 3:30AM. That’s the conversation that I overheard while quietly devouring my scrambled eggs, courtesy of the Kilauea Military Camp. That’s all that I needed to hear to know that these people, who were also enjoying the same fine eggs, were planning a trip to see the Kilauea lava flow at Volcanoes National Park. I instinctively interrupted their conversation and quickly asked, “do you have room for one more?”
The Sulphur Banks Trail is a short, easy hike, that is accessible just down the road from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center. This would be the final hike that Michelle and I would do during our stay at the park. The trail is in an area known as Haakulamanu, which means gathering place for birds, and is filled with steaming rocks and vibrant mineral deposits. Years ago, native Hawaiian species like the nene and kolea, would flock to Haakulamanu, likely attracted to the underlying thermal field on which the sulphur banks exist.
With the Kilauea Iki and Devastation trails “in the bag,” so to speak, I was eager to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park even more. Puu Huluhulu was the next trail on my list. Translated, Puu Huluhulu means “hairy hill.” To the south of Puu Huluhulu is Mauna Ulu, which is a large shield volcano that erupted from May 24, 1969 to July 24, 1974. Legend suggests that this major eruption was a show of force from Pele’s brother, Keoʻahikamakaua, the spirit of molten fountains. We would hike through the remnants of the Mauna Ulu eruption to the top of Puu Huluhulu.
Just beyond Puu Puai is the trailhead to the aptly named Devastation Trail. This particular trail allows for a peek into the destruction of the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Iki crater. Prior to the 1959 eruption, the surrounding area was a lush forest, filled with ohia. The 1959 eruption destroyed all of this.
Kilauea Iki, meaning little Kilauea, is by no means a little hike. This hike will weave in-and-out of a lush rainforest, bring you down to the remnants of a former lava lake, and then lead you to the popular Thurston Lava Tube. Kilauea Iki was the trail that I was most eager to explore during my recent trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I was not disappointed. There are two potential starting points for this hike, either at the Thurston Lava Tube parking lot or the Kilauea Iki parking lot. The trail is a loop, and so you can choose to go either clockwise or counterclockwise. We chose to go counterclockwise by starting at the Kilauea Iki parking lot and ending with the Thurston Lava Tube as our finale.
The following is a guest post written by Oregon based photographer, Miles Morgan. A few days ago, I was introduced to a Telegraph article featuring intimate photos from the lip of the Kilauea volcano by Miles Morgan. I found Morgan’s photos to be absolutely stunning and captivating. I reached out to Morgan and asked him to share a few words and photos with the readers of Exploration: Hawaii. He kindly accepted.
I’ve always been interested in volcanoes in general, (haven’t we all?) so when I picked up landscape photography in 2009 it didn’t take me long to conclude that it would make an excellent subject. My father got married high up on Mauna Loa, so later I wanted to go visit that spot and made my first trip to the Big Island. The ribbons of older flows that dominate the Kona side of the island astonished me. It was like driving on the moon. I’ve been back many times since, and it remains my favorite place on earth.
Doug Urquhart of Atlanta, Georgia, based The upThink Lab recently put together an excellent collection of timelapse videos taken during a recent wedding anniversary trip to the Big Island and Maui. The video features images from Kilauea and Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Haleakala in Maui.