This morning at 4am Tito embarked on a 12 mile round trip hike through some of the hardest terrain I’ve ever hiked on, to watch and photograph active lava flow at Kilauea.
<Lifted from Wikipedia>
Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi.
Kīlauea’s eruptive history has been a long and active one; its name means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language, referring to its frequent outpouring of lava. Kīlauea’s current eruption dates back to January 3, 1983, and is by far its longest-duration historical period of activity, as well as one of the longest-duration eruptions in the world.
The hike took about 2.5 hours to get in and 2.5 hours to get out. As the crow flies, it was probably more like 8 miles, but the constant up/down/winding path we had to take to stay safe and stay on track definitely added a lot of time. The last time I shot Kilauea, lava was pouring into the ocean, this time around it was only visible by hike and I’m glad; it was a much more intimate experience.
These photos are for perspective. It’s hard to imagine the scale of this desolate landscape without people for scale.
Can you see the red glow under the ground around Tito? That’s all lava that has cooled off a bit. You have to be very careful where you step because you don’t know how stable some areas are. In our case we had excellent guides to help us – I wouldn’t recommend going it alone. Even so, by the end, the rubber on our sneakers had melted.
It’s hard to choose favourite shots. Lava is beautiful beyond measure, awe-inspiring and primal. You are watching the earth move, rocks flow, it’s profoundly spiritual.
Anywhere you look below your feet you’ll see the lava on the move.
And to end, my favourite of them all. This giant chunk fell away and I, perhaps foolishly, jumped in front of it to shoot. The heat was so intense that the skin on my forearms burned and my lens got too hot. Afterwards I was nauseated and dizzy for a few minutes. I could only stand there for a few seconds, but for those few seconds I stared into the heart of the earth and it was worth it.
Is there volcano yarn coming when I get home? You bet.