The Banks - Half a World Away travel blog

In the middle of a lava field

Also in the middle of a lava field


Hilo Volcano Hike

Honolulu (yesterday) is on O’ahu. Altogether there are 7 inhabited islands (ok 8, but one is privately owned) O’ahu is kind of medium sized and near the west end of the chain.

Hilo is on Big Island. Yes, the biggest, and the furthest East. If you put all the other islands together, they would not make up half of Big Island.

90% of Big Island is volcano. Mainly still active. Mauna Loa. Erupted in 1984. Famous.

Our “hike” consisted of walking around part of the rim of the caldera of a sub-volcano to Mauna Loa, then down, down, down into the bottom of the top, if you see what I mean, and across the volcano floor, then back up the other side. Wow.

From the top, the bottom looked grey and flat and featureless. Then you walk over it and it is the most treacherous surface, all cracks and chasms and loose bits, with plants starting to regrow after the last eruption here in 1959. They are, as our guide helpfully said at the start of the day “overdue another big one”. However we didn’t let that keep us away from the holes here and there “letting off steam”, and warm air rising in places from cracks and crevices.

Altogether we walked and climbed about 5 miles, including going through a “lava tube”. You may have to look this up, or wait for photos. Amazing.

The instructions for the day included to bring “warm clothes”, as apparently it can get cold up there. Hmm. It certainly got wet, or sometimes very wet; occasionally a bit mizzly. In between, as yesterday, it got warm. Very warm. And if the sun did not come out on time, there was always a warm air vent nearby to do the job…..it is a shame as it spoiled some of the awesome views. However, our guide pointed out they get 140” a year of rain on that side of the island – that’s more than Manchester; possibly even more than Carlisle ! – so your chance of a totally dry day with picture postcard views is fairly low, especially as it is still rainy season.

The walk was very well organised – we all got issued with “Emergency rations” of cereal bars and trail mix, we concluded that “finishing the first mile” definitely comes under the heading of an emergency. Also water, also cagoules, walking sticks….

We also visited a viewpoint for seeing into another active volcanic bowl, but sadly the rain/mist was mainly obscuring this. Might be a plume of steam rising ? Might just be a waft of rain drifting down – who knows ?

We collapsed back into the minibus, only to find the guide parking up and producing lunch – at about 3.30pm ! We had all assumed that the Emergency Rations were by way of being lunch, but hey, if you insist – so it was sandwiches and crisps (“chips”, they said, but fortunately we realised before we got too excited) and drinks…..just timed nicely to induce a short nap on the way “home”.

Hilo is basically a container port. It does not exactly have a “downtown area” – and guess what ? it is raining heavily again….and misting. So we decided to come inside for a nice cup of tea and (well, J has) a nice lie down ! I think today we have actually earned it……..and we have 4 more “sea days” to get over it before we reach our next stop.

By which time, my exhausted readers may like to know, we shall be about half way…….



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