Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

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New earth appears at the edge of Big Island, these days, as lava flows down to the sea and solidifies beneath waves and geysers of steam.

The only way to obtain a close-up view of this primeval event is to hike three miles across some wicked geological formations of not-so-old pahoehoe, any of which can trip you up and leave you with extremely nasty cuts and bruises, lying there enjoying the smell of chorinated gases eminating from vents further up the hill side.

Because Shelley's with child, she stayed away from the nasty air here and let me do this hike alone, which I did in an hour and fifteen minutes. Yeah, I booked. Once out there I spent an hour gazing upon an angry ocean that didn't stand a chance of pushing Pele's fire back.

Visiting during daylight hours means a less awe-inspiring show, so many people go out at night. I compromised and left very late in the afternoon and thus arrived at dusk. Night fell during the way back, but thanks to a bright moon it took only two extra minutes to hike the three miles back, again over some of the nastiest terrain I've ever experienced.

On the way back, numerous bright orange hotspots lit up the hillside, toward the volcano, like so many bonfires in the night. I have no photo of them for nothing would do it justice.

But I do have a photo of a couple guys going idiotically close to the lava/sea interface and cooking hotdogs atop a cracked lava tube that's carrying molten rock only some twenty feet below them. Stay too long here and your shoes may melt, if the chlorine-laden air doesn't drive you away first.

I would truly like to see lakes of lava as others have in the past, so will watch the news for more visible activity and catch a plane back when it happens.

Here's some of the easier terrain I crossed on the 3-mile hike to good viewing, in dark much of the way back.

Pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) lava looks like thick ropes and in this area is all shiny black and brittle, both attractive and grotesque at the same time.

Lava versus ocean. Lava wins.

The glow of Pele's heart, emanating from lava flowing some twenty feet down. A couple guys cooked hotdogs here where the ground temperature causes one to worry about one's footwear. Also, aromatic gases waft by.

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