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Walking on an active Volcano, Big Island

Volcano (2)

Even though I was really tired the last day because of the Manta Ray dive, I couldn’t sleep much because I was stressed about the lava walk. Because I’ve scheduled a tour with a company who promises that you’ll walk on fresh lava and then poke some lava while it’s still flowing. And it was 2 hours drive away and we had to meet at 9am. So I’ve waken up at 5am and started thinking what to bring and do. After getting everything and waking up a bit more I’ve left the hotel at 6am. I’ve stopped by the Starbucks to make sure I don’t fall asleep while driving. Another problem I didn’t anticipated was the road that takes you from Kona to Hilo goes through a mountain called Mauna Kea. The highway goes really high in elevation which you’re not supposed to do after a dive. My ears clogged up and my sinuses started hurting. I wasn’t sure if I’ll be able to finish the road without any problems. Almost to the half way of the road you reach to the elevation of clouds. I know it sounds really cool(And yes it was super cool view and an awesome memory) but you don’t see anything further than 10 feet and it’s a highway with just one lane each direction and passing people is ok 🙂 So you can’t imagine how scary it is to think some idiot might trust himself more than necessary and suddenly show up in your lane with 50 Mph. Luckily there wasn’t anyone like that and safely I’ve passed through the clouds. After 2 hours of drive I was in Hilo.

I’ve met with the tour half an hour earlier than I should which gave me time to go and buy some socks. They told me to wear high socks which I didn’t understand why but didn’t argue. I’ve found a store and then got some socks and then came back. They asked us to sign a liability form that says “I’m ok with dying, being burned, getting arrested or prosecuted”. Yeah we all are used to the I’m dying part but I was really surprised to see the latter part 🙂 I’ve asked them and they said because couple people died in lava walks, government forbid the entry and shut down the forest that we’ll walk through. But they said because the owner of the company owns a land into the forest and also the forest belongs to the native Hawaiian people, the government cannot prosecute you. They said they can only charge the guide because of risking our lives(How lovely :)). I’ve ride with some other people from the tour as I was tired of driving to the meeting location.

Volcano (1)We’ve entered a really long hike(about 5 miles) and it was all covered in mud. We had to jump through the roots of the trees not to get into the mud. I’ve missed the roots twice and I was covered in mud up to my knees(I was lucky not to have more). And as you get muddy the shoes get slippery and you start slipping more and more. There were a lot of trees with sharp endings which was a big security threat when you fall. Luckily we made it to the volcano without anyone getting hurt.

Then we started walking on two weeks old lava. At first it was really scary thinking the lava might break at any second. After a bit of walk we got used to it and also got knowledgeable about the colors of the lava. I was able to tell how many days it’s been since it got out. We walked on couple of days old lava until we reached the fresh flow. It was such an amazing experience. It was burning right in front of our eyes. The lava burns at about 3000 degrees and the second it touches the air, it makes a deep freeze affect and starts cooling off super fast. It becomes like a rock after couple of seconds. We poke the lava with some sticks we’ve got along the way and you should see the fire coming out of it as it starts touching the air. Because there is no oxygen inside the lava it doesn’t start a fire until you lift it with a stick. When you do so, you’re actually pushing oxygen into the lava which starts an incredible fire(like you’re burning a gas oven) into the air. We’ve melted some marshmallows and enjoyed the view for a while. We couldn’t spend too much time as the lava we were standing on was still hot. It was burning our feet and we had to keep watering our shoes to prevent them from burning. Especially fresh lava has such an incredible temperature. The second it’s exposed to air, you start feeling the heat. We were lucky that there  were some cool winds cooling us off. After this great adventure we head back to our cars. The problem was the hike that we took with joy became a misery. We all were tired and just wanted to lay down. My left knee started giving me such a hard time. Luckily we finished the hike without any problem. After saying goodbye to my new friends I’ve started driving back to the hotel. And had to cross through the clouds in the night time this time. Luckily again I didn’t face any unnecessary heroes and safely made it back to my hotel. Such an amazing day and happy to be alive without any burns:)

 

Volcano (3)

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