Monday, my last on the Island, was another day of stupefying wonders; courtesy, again, of the Volcano.
It all began with yet another drive up a winding one-lane mountain road – this time, the South flank of Mauna Loa. The road is fine (i.e., not bumpy) for the entirety of its length; which ends at about 6,700 feet. Here awaits those wishing to summit the trailhead for the multi-day trek.
The view from here is great, of course. But also there’s a fairly profound feeling of serenity at that height (and surround by trees, rather that lava) – the breeze and the birds are the only sounds to be heard.
Speaking of birds, next stop, a coupla thirds of the way back down the road, was Bird Park. It’s a short but sublime one-mile hike through a kipuka (a forested area, so I’ve just learned, saved from lava flows owing to its being atop a mound). The birds are out in force, as advertised; and the trees typically beautiful.
Near the bottom of the hill is an area of Tree Molds. These are created when very wet trees withstand the lava’s ire long enough for it (the lava) to begin to harden before they (the trees) give way to incineration. The result is fascinating!
By the way, don’t you wish you could write like this?
Moving right along, a kinda long-ish hike covering the immediate area surrounding the 1969-1974 eruptions at Mauna Ulu. Here’s where it all began.
The area here is just absolutely ca-razy. Must be seen to be believed. The hike continues to the top of the Puu Huluhulu, which serves as a nice viewpoint for Mauna Ulu itself. Pretty interesting times, if you wanna read up on it (the link is to the .pdf for the trail guide).
The hike also features many lava trees – similar to tree molds; but instead of forming pits, the lava forms into the shape of the trees. Way cool (just trying to use some different adjectives here – everything in the park could be described using the most magnitudinous of superlatives).
Up, now, to the Crater Rim Drive to look at the Art Gallery, visit the Museum, check in upon the Steam Vents and Sulfur Banks, and pay the last respects to the Halemaumau crater.
Thence to charge back down the Chain Of Craters Road, to the very end of it all. The road used to run straight through to Highway 130 in Kalapana; but was eaten up in the 1986 flow.
Apparently, events at times proceeded with greater rapidity than expected.
Hiking back from the lava to the Holei Sea Arch (as far as one is permitted to drive), here’s a pretty great sight: a rogue stand of Coconut palms amidst the devastation.
Also, it ain’t only Kona: the East side of the Island can present with some pretty magisterial sunsets as well.
An unexpected surprise, then. Three Nene feeding by the side of the road. The Hawaii state bird; apparently only three hundred of them are in existence.
To ice the cake with, we gots to see a full moon in one direction, and fire on the mountain in the other.
I car-camped it down at the Sea Arch; and woke up bright and early to take in the setting of the full moon and the rising of the sun. The later was largely thwarted by clouds – though certainly worth sticking around for.
No way was I going to take off without looking at some more pounding waves! See the Io (Hawaiian Hawk)? There were two or three circling around out there.
Heading back to the car, and thinking to myself that it was a bit surprising that nobody had wanted to come join me of the early morning…and no sooner had the thought entered my head that some old friends turned up, just in time for breakfast.
One final awestruck gaze at the ocean…
…and it was off to buy some Longans at the market, drop off the guidebook at the library, gas up and return the motor-car, and check in at the airport.
The flight to Honolulu was fine.
But here’s the last step in the resolution process for when things aren’t fine.
Check out dude in front, running his ass right out of the frame! What, is he blasting through a time portal or some shit?
The flight to Seattle is boarding, so away we leave from Paradise…
(Post written on Tuesday the 17th.)