Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hawaii day five: MB, Amazing E, and Pu'u O'o

Day five greeted us with a beautiful sunrise. We got up early on the east side of the island and walked over to the shore to see the sun come up, and we were not disappointed. This is a sunrise double rainbow over Mauna Kea. Aww. Very romantic.
Then we headed to Volcanoes National Park for real. First we stopped by the rim of Helemaumau, Kiluaea's from the 1800's up until the 1960's. Mark Twain was here, and saw this thing seething with lava. Smoke and steam still come out of the floor, and they let you walk around down there. We stopped for a while to let E get some rest.
The day's delay in going to the park allowed us to collect some intelligence about chances of seeing lava. You see, for most of my lifetime lava has been erupting out of the Pu'u O'o vent. The eruption is building a smoking cone that can be seen for miles. BTW, the name of the vent sounds like Poo-ooh Oh-oh. The opening of the vent faces toward the sea, and lava tends to flow down that way and into the water. It's quite a sight to see, and E and I had planned on hiking to wherever that would be visible.

However, sometime this summer a new vent formed on the other side of Pu'u O'o from which lava is flowing inland. You can't get to the lava right now. However, we heard that there was a chance of seeing it from a hill in the middle of the lava field that was formed back in the 1980's. That was only a short hike, so we decided to do it. Boy was it worth it. With the help of some binoculars I picked up on clearance right before we left, we were able to see lava coming out of the new vent. Now, this was not lava flowing on the ground. This was lava spraying out of the earth into the air. Fireworks for the new year! From left to right, that's me, E, and Pu'u O'o.

Next we drove down to see the sea. That's a natural arch of lava.
Lastly, this is the recent area of lava flow going down to the sea. I am presenting it to you with my best Vanna White pose.
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