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  • Day14

    Hilo and Hawaii Volcanoes national park

    September 24 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

    Last night we had quite the symphony of I don’t know what bugs, frogs and others chanting us to sleep. They provide earplugs at the Inn if it’s too distracting. I was tired enough from the day, so I quickly fell asleep. What did wake me up in the middle of the night was a very powerful rainstorm. The rain hitting the roof was very loud. I eventually went back to sleep until the roosters starting competing to wake me up.

    Today we visit a town called Hilo which is on the eastern side of Big Island. Before we start with our tour guide James, we take a small detour to go visit the macadamia nut company Mauna Loa nuts and see one of their farms here. There have about 250,000 trees at this one. That’s a lot of nuts. We quickly visit as they mostly want to sell high priced items to bring back home. We did not buy anything but quickly visited the factory from windows outside.

    Once that is done, James starts us off by passing at Rainbow falls 🌈 💦. They say that when the sun is right, the mist will magically create a lovely rainbow behind the falls. Today is not the day for us, there sun is currently hiding. Near the falls we get to see amazing Banyan trees. These trees are extremely wide. As they grow, roots come down from the branches and turn into other trucks. The tree ends up looking like many trunks merged together. Mature trees can be up to 150 feet wide. They are very interesting to look at and have a extremely large canopy of leaves at the top.

    We are then directed to visit the Boiling Pots. These pools of “boiling” water, the turbulence gives the illusion, are what feeds the Rainbow falls. There is a Hawaiian story around the pots and the falls but I forget all the details. I remember that Maui a Demi god wanted to save his mother Pele. She was trapped behind the falls by a giant lizard. The lizard was hiding in the water so Maui had the water boil so he would come out. It worked. Once caught, the lizard was transformed into a rock and placed under the falls which to this day is being beaten by the water as punishment.

    We now head over to Kaumana Caves, this place is a Lava tube of 25 miles long. We head in with our headlamp and go in about 500m. We decide to turn off our lights. 😳 Wow, this is a weird feeling, I can’t see anything. It is so dark that it makes me feel unnerved. I know that there is nothing to worry about but my brain is finding it impossible. On our way out we meet a group going in. I suggest that they try turning their lights off as we did. 30 seconds later, we see them coming back out. I thought they were afraid to go any further but unfortunately one of the girls hit her head badly and is bleeding from the top of her head. Someone calls an ambulance to come get her. We decide to leave as everything seems under control. When we left she seemed better but will probably need stitches.

    We find a place for lunch and revisit our plan for the afternoon. The sun has come out. James tells us that it rains on average 22 days a month here. We decide to go up to visit the volcano. We head up the road, there is an accent of about 1.2 km in altitude. The temperature goes down as we drive up. It’s about 20C so it’s perfect for me.

    We enter the national park and go hiking to visit the crater. We are not able to go all the way in as the land has changed since 2018. The Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanos are the only one still active in Hawaii. The Kilauea eruption in 2018 caused the landscape to change and there are instabilities that are still being evaluated before they re-open certain areas of the park.

    It’s interesting to see the crater, the lava rock is very brittle and airy. When you walk on it there is a distinct crushing and cracking sound. As we walk around the crater we also get to see steam coming out of the ground. The sulfur smell is thankfully barely perceptible.

    After our hike, we are guided to drive down the « Chain of Craters » road. On this road we get to see the various lava flows that have occurred over time. There are signs with the year of the lava flows. Once at the bottom, we are back at sea level. The wind here is pretty strong, the waves are hitting the dried lava causing the water to go very high in the air. I would estimate 100 feet. Quite impressive.

    We finish the park by going back up the way we came down as there is no other way. We descend back to Hilo. I almost don’t touch the gas pedal for 30 minutes. We have dinner at a nice local place where I have the « local plate » which usually includes Pork Kalau, beef Teriyaki, Jasmine rice, macaroni salad. There are variations of this in many places. It enjoyed it very much.
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