Sometimes when you travel you think about how lucky you are to be visiting a place. There is always another side to things. Yes you are lucky to be here right at this moment experiencing the most picturesque views of Hawaiian landmarks for example, but other people weren’t so lucky at this exact same place.
Inspired by the recent volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaii, I remember the time I went on a hike to that exact volcano. It was a hike full of excitement because it was all new and just unthinkable to be walking on an old volcano. Can you really feel excited and lucky to be somewhere when many people are unlucky to even be living there?
I was “lucky” enough to have visited the Kilauea volcano back in 2012 on one of my adventures.
The Kilauea volcano is located in the south east of Big Island and “it has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983.”
There was barely any volcanic activity back when I was there, only a cloud of smoke that you could watch from about 2 kilometers away. I remember they used to have boat tours that would bring you close to the lava falling into the ocean. Yeah… No thanks. Instead, I chose to go on a road trip with three girls I had just met at the hostel.
I had just landed on Big Island in Hawaii. The clouds were heavy with rain and the sky was dark and stormy. I was alone in Hilo, a small coastal town located east on the island. I had come here on a flight from another island called Oahu, in search of something different and less touristy.
The beaches in Hilo were made of volcanic rock and the rumour was that the waters were infested with sharks. With no sandy beaches in sight, I wonder if I made a good choice to visit this island. There must be something else to it.
The bus from Hilo to Kona is scheduled to take about 6 hours. But I had learned that a schedule is not a thing when you are on island time. I arrive in Kona 9 hours later and I am convinced that Hawaiians live a stress-free life. Kona was lovely and sunny and it was the answer to the sandy beaches I was looking for.
That night I stayed at yet another colourful hostel, where mango trees and a hammock in the backyard were calling my name. Hostels being hostels, I meet three fun girls that invite me on a road trip to Kilauea volcano the next day. I’m in.
The next morning, we leave extra early and there is not one part of me that wonders if I’m being crazy for jumping in a car full of strangers. All of us had just met and that was the beauty of it. I live for these adventures.
About 3 hours later, we get to the entrance of the Kilauea Visitor Center. I’m going to see an active volcano! We visit the museum and decide to take off for a hike on the volcanic rock, to get closer to the big hole. It feels weird to think that all I wanted to see back then was lava, and today it’s all over the place.
It smells of sulfur as we walk on the warm black rock. There are cracks everywhere and I wonder what’s underneath us. As we walk further on the volcanic rock, we start seeing colourful flowers growing out of the cracks. How do they grow there? The flowers are so colourful in contrast to the black rock. It looks unreal.
The further I get into our hike, the more I think there is no exit. All around us, there is smoke coming out of the cracks. Is it lava smoke? How close is the lava underneath us? I am not in control of the situation here. Nature is in control.
We finally get to the viewing point. Far away in front of us, I can see smoke coming out of a hole. Is that what an active volcano looks like? For security purposes they don’t let people approach the big smoky hole. I am slightly disappointed to not be able to see one inch of red smoke.
We decide to go for a bite to eat and come back when it’s dark to see if the view is any different. This adventure was about seeing an active volcano and it was not over until I got to see some colour.
We went back late at night and we got to see a red smoky glow coming out of the volcano. I took pictures, and that was it.
Kilauea Volcano Eruption
“On May 17, 2018 at 4:17 AM, the volcano explosively erupted, throwing ash 30,000 feet into the air. On May 21 it was reported that two lava flows have reached the Pacific Ocean, creating thick clouds of laze, which is made up of hydrochloric acid and glass particles”. (Wikipedia)
More than 2000 people have been evacuated from their homes. These people have no idea what will be left of their home when they get to go back. With Kilauea’s explosive history, we can almost say that we knew this would happen one day or another.
Having been to this exact volcano a few years ago, it is with a different perspective that I look back at this adventure today. The Hawaiian people that live on this land cherish their homes but they also understand nature and her power. If nature chooses her own path, and lava flows in your backyard, then let the lava flow. Nature was here first and it will always make its own path.