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?”
In this post, I wrote about how night viewing of Halemaumau Crater from the Jaggar Museum is a must see when visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This isn’t the only place to get a great view of the crater at night. Michelle and I were fortunate to stay at the famous Volcano House. This unique lodge is the only one of its kind within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The lodge is located on the edge of Kilauea Volcano, and offers a stunning viewing area of Halemaumau Crater.
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.
If this footage from photographer and videographer, Fred Rackle, left you wanting more, well, I’ve got more for you. I stumbled on this great, vintage film from the 1960’s, titled Hawaii’s Spectacular Valcono Eruptions, by photographer Art Carter. In fact, Rackle is credited with helping with the video. The narration is great, but the video is even better. At one point, they show video of Kilauea Iki spewing a fountain of over 1,900 feet in height. Try to imagine lava being spewed over 1900 feet in the air. I’d love to see that in real life. The final six minutes shows video of the eruption in Puna, Big Island. There’s one aerial shot of the town, and you can see not too far behind (probably less than a mile), the volcano erupting. It’s an unbelievable sight that has to be seen to be believed. What an amazing time to have lived in Hawaii.
Located on the southern flank of Kilauea is one of the largest petroglyph fields in the state. Puu Loa, or, “hill of long life,” contains over 23,000 petroglyph images. Michelle and I decided to check out the petroglyph field after a visit to the end of Chain of Craters Road and the Holei Sea Arch. The hike in is about a one-mile trek on uneven, rocky terrain. However, once you reach the wooden planks at the end of the trail, you are awarded with a unique opportunity to view ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs carved hundred of years ago.
The Halemaumau Overlook at the Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must see whenever visiting this one-of-a-kind national park. We decided to visit the Jaggar Museum on the last night of our stay at the park. It was about 5pm, or so, when we found ourselves at the famous volcanic museum. Unfortunately for us, it was very cloudy with slight showers. The clouds were plentiful and hovering close to the crater, leaving us and every other spectator with nothing to see. So, we decided that we would head back to the Volcano House, wait a bit, and then return to the Jaggar Museum later in the evening with our fingers crossed.
I’ve been trying to imagine what the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Iki looked like ever since I hiked the hardened crater floor a few weeks ago. That’s how I came across the video footage below of the eruption by Fred Rackle. In the early 90’s, Rackle donated the footage to the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. When Kilauea Iki erupted in 1959, Rackle left the camera shop that he worked at in Waikiki and flew to the Big Island to film the eruption using a 2nd hand Bell & Howell Filmo 70-DL that he picked up for $30.
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.