I always had a feeling that Hawaii would be a magical place, which is a big reason why I've always wanted to visit, and there really is no better way to get a sense of what that magic is all about than a trek through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Words cannot express the out of worldness that is hiking through, and on top of, a continuously erupting volcano. We started at 2:30pm, continued through sunset to pitch darkness (except for the glow coming from Kīlauea's active lava flow), while going through six different climates (rain, sun, dry, humid, cold, you name it, we felt it), which changes the color of the hardened lava from bronze to silver in a second. 12.4 miles later and it still feels unreal.
Mile 0 starting with a smile and dry clothes...
On my back - 6 bottles of water, 2 sandwiches, 2 cliff bars and 2 bags of chips.
Dom, our awesome guide (it is highly recommended that you do the evening hike with a an experienced guide) from Hawaii Outdoor Guides.
Thank you to Keen for getting me hike-ready and looking like a real pro.
Beautiful, living greenery sprouting out from something so dead(ly) is such a crazy sight to see IRL.
These markings are known as the hair of Pele, the mythical Hawaiian goddess of fire.
The patterns the lava creates as it dries are incredible.
No filter necessary.
When the lava dries, it goes from feeling like walking on crunchy meringue to sharp shards of glass, depending on how old it is.
Time for heat protection gloves, which means we're getting closer to the active lava (the smoke behind me is from the 61G lava flowing into the cold ocean waters). These gloves are also great in case you fall, so you don't cut your hands.
There she is. Imagine the hottest sauna you've ever been in x1000 and that's what it feels like to be this close to active lava.
I still can't believe I did this.
And just like that, it dries and hardens into the earth, within seconds.
In midst of all the excitement, I managed to record some video of the lava flow:
As exciting as the lava is, my favorite part of the whole hike was actually a break we took to rest (haha) before hiking back 6 miles to our car. I've never seen the sky so clear and full of stars before. Dom pointed out where my sign, Libra, was (holla to all my fellow Susan Miller aficionados) which was beyond cool... and I also saw two shooting stars. Magic.
One of the writers I was travelling with, Alex M Howard from Lonely Planet, took this insane time-lapse shot (above) of the stars and the glow from the 61G lava.
Many mahalos to Jessica from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Dom from Hawaii Outdoor Guides for making this, and I don't say this often or lightly, truly an experience of a lifetime.