susan smitten (chu_hi) wrote,
susan smitten

The Earth's Molten Core

Let's travel back in time, to the end of July. Hawaii!

A main attraction of the island we visited is the volcano that is erupting. Getting too close to an eruption is dangerous business, and that's why children, elderly, and the infirm alike flock to the spot. People hike up this volcano (did I mention it's erupting?) for hours, unsure of how far is too far. When will the ground open beneath them? How long has the rock under their feet been cool? There is no beaten path - there can't be - and the brittle bubbles of cooled lava regularly collapse under the weight of hikers.

On top of all that, the hike is done under the black of night to ensure visibility of the flows. Five beacons bring the hikers back to the road, but beyond #5, one is on his own. A few days before we arrived in Hawaii, a Texan (college student, I think) was rescued after being lost for days out in the wasteland that surrounds the flow.

(**Edit: Don says the lost Texan hiker guy was 40 or so, and wanted to get closer to the lava flows to see them, so he hiked further toward them and got stuck. He found himself in an area where, everywhere he stepped, there were 4-foot-deep lava rocks, exploding beneath his feet into pits of glass shards. Oh, if it rains out there (and it rained every day while we were there) you wind up covered in poisonous centipedes, according to warnings we read. This guy survived by licking plants or something, and was lucky to be found by a helicopter.)

I've seen some pretty incredible pictures of the Kilauea Volcano. These are not they.

Infrastructure has, uh, left the building.

Words of advisement I would surely heed.

This sign, on the other hand... we decided to ignore it, pushing forward for another couple of hours. See the little doomed guy falling into the sea?

After hours of trudging over unfriendly terrain, we reached the final beacon.

Aren't we proud! We turned back shortly after this. Apparently we had a couple hours to go until we could no longer trust the ground under our feet, according to weary hikers passing us on their way down.

This was the best I could do at capturing what it looks like when the surface of the earth opens and its molten core oozes out, running down into the ocean.

In summary, many people think it's a good idea to climb volcanos that are erupting. I'm not so convinced, but if fear and danger are your thing, try it! It's a pretty cool sight.
Tags: hawaii, hiking up volcanos

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