When I was in my junior year, Hunter College introduced a new requirement for graduation – you had to have 7 hours of credit in a science. For this flute major, it was a good reason to panic, until my faculty adviser said, “Geology, Pat. Any boob can learn to identify rocks.” So I signed up.
And one of the highlights of Geology 101 was a slide show that our professor put together from photos he took while flying over Kīlauea Iki, an active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Then he followed up with a film the US Geological Survey produced. And at that moment, I decided I had to see it for myself someday.
That someday was yesterday.
First, we went to the actual crater, or at least as close as they will let people get. We saw the plume of steam that forms a constant cloud over the caldera.
Then we took off on a walk through an old lava tube. I got a little claustrophobic but the beauty of the place helped me to get over it pretty fast.
After that, we drove to the recent lava field, took a hike of a couple of miles across the amazing formations, and from a safe distance we could see the glow from where the current lava flow was hitting the ocean waters. It was better than the 4th of July fireworks (in Washington, we have pretty good displays, too).
This place is completely amazing!