This Hawaiian Hike Takes You Throughout a As soon as Molten Lava Lake

Kilauea Iki, in Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park, reveals the hardened lava lake under. Hikers can take the three.3-mile loop path to the crater ground.

Fabian Meseberg / EyeEm / Getty Photos / EyeEm

As I stroll to the rim round Kilauea Iki, the crater ground peeks at me by the rainforest foliage—a 400-foot-deep crater created by Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii’s most energetic volcano.

I began my day early within the morning, so the three.3-mile loop hike I scheduled is peaceable with solely an occasional passerby. As I make my approach inside Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park, the solar warms the air of an in any other case chilly forest and morning dew.

The path leads me slowly to the crater ground of Kilauea Iki. It is a beautiful, well-maintained stroll, however I am intrigued for the primary attraction—and the occasional sightseeing among the many timber is a giant tease.

Whereas Kilauea Volcano is Hawaii’s most energetic, it isn’t the smallest – that honor belongs to Kamehuekanaloa (previously Lohi), which is at present erupting underwater. A defend volcano that sits low and tall, Kilauea has a number of craters. Its most well-known is the Halemaumau Crater, which is understood for its crimson glowing lava lake.

However on the opposite aspect of Kilauea’s caldera, separated solely by a tree-covered ridge, is Kilauea Iki – which interprets to “Little Kilauea” in English. Whereas the crater is smaller than neighboring Halemoumau, it’s nonetheless a few mile extensive.

The final eruption at Kilauea Iki was in 1959, when a spectacular line of lava fountains 50 to 100 toes excessive shot into the air and despatched the lava down its crater partitions, the place it gathered.

“I see some fireworks that appear to be a person lighting a match on the 4th of July,” stated an eyewitness in a 1959 Honolulu Advertiser newspaper article. “Observers known as it ‘extra spectacular than something that occurred at Halemaumau’.”

After a few month, the eruption stopped and shaped this tough lava lake, which individuals can cross as we speak.

Kilauea Iki erupted in 1959 as lava from the Pupuai vent.

Kilauea Iki erupted in 1959 as lava from the Pupuai vent.


There’s a pause within the timber as I flip to make my ultimate touchdown on the crater ground. As soon as there, I cease. Just a few pedestrians go by me to proceed my journey throughout the lava lake, as if it have been a stroll within the metropolis park as typical, however I can not transfer.

Volcanoes are humble if you stand of their presence. That is what I felt years in the past once I first visited Halemaumau Crater. The extremely giant scale of the whole lot makes you’re feeling so small and insignificant as compared. It is actually no shock that Native Hawaiians used to view these different summits as the house of gods, equivalent to Pelehonumaia – the goddess of volcanoes and hearth.

The arduous lava lake of Kilauea Iki’s crater ground is lengthy and extensive, sure by the 400-foot-high crater partitions I descended from. I take my time strolling throughout it, seeing the sights. Ahu, or stacked cairns, mark the place to stroll safely throughout the nation.

To my proper is Pupuai, a tall hill at Cinder Cone, the place lava blew a document 1,900 toes into the air. I can not even think about what that will have been like personally. However I do my greatest to think about capturing lava “5 occasions longer than Pu Pui,” because the path information brochure says.

Some consider that the explosion was a fiery battle between Pele and an historical god, Ailau, who was generally known as a demon to destroy forests. He dominated the land till Pele arrived, after which he fled. However these battles nonetheless exist. Kilauea’s 2018 eruption was additionally stated to be the work of Ailau, and its main fissure 8 is now named after him.

A hiker on the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

A hiker on the Kilauea Iki Path in Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park on the Huge Island of Hawaii.

Greg Vaughn / VWPix / Getty Photos / Assortment Combine: ALL

After I attain the middle of Kilauea Iki’s crater ground, I wander a number of occasions to marvel on the geological marvel. The hardened lava lake is made up of about 86 million tons of lava. The ground is comparatively flat, other than some raised areas that could be floating islands or components of a pupuai that slip into the lake. Steam nonetheless rises from these ridges and cracks.

As soon as I made it to the ground, I spotted that the final a part of the path might be the toughest half—climbing the crater’s 400-foot wall. Earlier than I go away, I will take one final look.

I spy the native Ohia lehua vegetation sprinkled alongside the crater’s ground. They’re recognized for being one of many first vegetation to emerge from the lava-covered panorama. A brand new forest will in the future reclaim this land, if Pele or Ailau permits it.

I am glad I will stroll throughout this previously molten lava lake, which is able to in all probability be gone centuries from now, because the cycle of creation and destruction begins another time on this turbulent land of volcanoes.

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