Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Volcanoes, Part 2 Volcano, HI, Saturday, 19 August 2006 9:25pm

Due to a glitch in planning, I had to drive back down to Volcano today. My original thought was to rent a car and drive down with the others on their last day and stay in Volcano Village. However, that didn't work with the room reservations and departure times. So, after snorkeling near the hotel with Jenny and seeing more turtles, I got my rental car delivered to the hotel. I had brunch with Jenny, Rusty, and Merin at U Top It, a tasty little restaurant that specializes in taro "pancrepes", then shopped for a little while with Jenny and drove the 2hrs south to Volcano Village.

I checked in at my B&B and the owner gave me the lowdown on the area. Since I planned to try to see lava, I decided to leave right away, stopping only to pick up takeout food from the same restaurant that we'd all eaten at yesterday (there are four choices in Volcano Village, and only one of them seems to do takeout).

I got to the end of Chain of Craters Rd at about 5:30 and hiked in towards the steam plume that we'd seen from a distance yesterday. After about two miles of hiking, I could see red at the base of the plume (where the land and sea meet). When I reached the end of the beacons that the rangers put out to guide night hikers, I decided to take the risk and duck under the rope cordoning off the region that the rangers deemed too dangerous (mostly because of bench collapses, where a section of seemingly-solid ground falls into the ocean, but also because of sulfur and hydrochloric acid vapor released from the lava). There were lots of other people doing the same. After a few hundred feet it became apparent why.

There was molten lava visible where the plume hit the water. It was bright orange when it wasn't obscured by the steam, and otherwise it colored the plume with its light. When the waves hit it right it would fountain up into the air or even float on the surface of the water in glowing blobs for a minute or two before cooling. I stayed at an overlook that gave a good view of the vent as it got dark, eating my takeout and snapping hundreds of pictures (few of which will come out because of the low light).

I hiked back in the dark, giving both my headlamp and GPS unit chances to prove their worth. Yay gadgets.