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    Posted December 13, 2012 by
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    Kilauea Volcano- our yearly pilgrimmage

    Since almost dying on Kilauea April 4, 2004 on the giant Mother's Day flow, my wife and I have returned again and again: mesmerized by Pele's beauty, fire and magic. We have more respect for her now and realize our freak encounter on a lava flow and being surrounded and cut off by a massive lava event was a freak of nature and this has not diminished our passion for exploring the various areas of its activity.
    From Kalapana to the heights of the Pali and Pu'U O'o I have made nearly 50 trips into the volcano over the past 10 years and still do not tire of her splendor.
    I have more respect now that I have met her. Right now one can drive to Kalapana and take an evening boat ride to see the night entry of the lava inot the Pacific. It is very safe and affordable.
    The flow is active and massive now on the coastal plain and we are returning for a month in February.
    I have since learned much about the gelology of this volcano and its unique mannerisms. I normally hike in with 3 gallons of water, flashlights, two days of food and three cameras and lenses. Burns are frequent when one does macro work with the lava as it reaches 2200 Celcius. On the flow you are on your own. There is no rescue, no wardens and no cell phone use (satellite phones do work). But using common sense one can have a raft of fun and see and hear things beyond this world.
    For me Pele is worth every trip, every return and always will be. The last scene is from Saddle Road, it is the road back to Kailua-Kona and safety. This road runs between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and is one of the finest 3 hour drives on the Big Island.
    VOG (volcanic gases) which are mailny Sulphur Dioxide can form large pools in low lying areas and overcome one suddenly: they are deadly posionous. We only aproach the flow from up wind, never down wind and will not go in if the air is still. As these heavy gases wil kill you quick in a valley or depression.
    Learning the lay of the land and the way of this volcano makes the trip safer. But to see this volcano is enough to change the way you think about living and life. It is magical and a dream come true.
    The sixth image is the gorgeous road to Kalapana. It runs into a little fishing village which lets one hike but two miles into the active lava flwo which is now outside the park boundary. About an hour's walk will get you to the flow. Indeed, Kilauea Park has a daily update site on the volcano activity so you can plan your trip ahead knowing what activity is going on at the ocean. Daily aerial photos are supplied and infra-red night images give you the lay of the land and safe routes. Detailed maps of the area are available from US Geological Survey. Oh, and you need hiking boots with neoprene or rubber soles to insulate from the hot flow you will be walking on. I use Vibram soles. Wish you might one day be able to see her magic.
    The last photo is of giant rivers of lava that poured off Kilauea Volcano 2004 on Mother's Day. That moment defined and changed our lives and priorities. We have never seen anything so beautiful, so big, so hot, so intensely moving as that night on the volcano. It was life changing.
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