jen yu: kilauea iki crater

kilauea iki crater

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4 miles
~3500 - 3900 ft.
hawai'i volcanoes national park, hawai'i (big island)
february 3, 2005

On a week-long trip to explore the big island of Hawai'i, our first stop was Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. One of the many short hikes we did in the rain was the Kilauea Iki Crater - which was still steaming! It used to be a lava lake as recently as 1959. We hiked along the crater rim and marveled at the lush tropical forests of ginger plants, ferns, ohia, and other beautiful flora. The trail skirts the northern half of the crater, with a few openings in the forest to gaze upon the crater below. Eventually we wound our way down a few switchbacks on lava rock to the crater floor.

Despite being a molten lake 45 years ago, plants were making their inroads anywhere they could get a foothold. Fissure cracks stretched across waves of rock frozen in time. The trail runs through the middle of the crater and hikers get to pass by steam vents releasing that unmistakable smell of sulfur. Once at the other end, you climb back up to the crater rim passing the occasional orchid in the dripping wet forest. It is the closest I have been to magma. Read more about the day here.

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