Big Island of Hawaii
January 2010
Pu'uhonau o Honaunau, a faithful recreation of a traditional Hawaiian place of refuge, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Pu'uhonau o Honaunau.
Wood carvings at Pu'uhonau o Honaunau.
Wood carving at Pu'uhonau o Honaunau.
Pu'uhonau o Honaunau.
Wood carving at Pu'uhonau o Honaunau.
The black sand beach at Punaluu.
A brackish pond behind the black sand beach at Punaluu.
An endangered Hawaiian Sea Turtle at Punaluu.
Hilo Bay, seen from the Hale Kai Hawaii, the B&B I stayed at. The city center is at the far right.
Kilauea Iki, left, which erupted spectacularly in 1959. In the distance, the main caldera of Kilauea.
The floor of the Kilauea Iki crater. Notice the straight line across the bottom - that's a hiking trail.
Hikers in Kilauea Iki.
The Ohia trees waste no time colonizing fields of lava.
The trail descends into Kilauea Iki.
Heading across the floor of Kilauea Iki.
There's still plenty of heat in this crater, revealing itself in numerous steam vents. There's magma only a few hundred feet down.
The Thurston Lava Tube, lit for the tourists.
The Puna Coast. The coastal plane consists of very young lava.
The Holei Sea Arch along the Puna Coast.
Waves working on young lava along the Puna Coast.
The road to Kalapana, blocked by the 1990 eruption of the Pu'u O'o vent on the flanks of Kilauea.
The road to Kalapana.
No kidding.
A dull bush at Hilo Airport.
Prepping the Hughes 500 helicopter for my "doors off" flight. They literally removed the hinge pins, pulled the doors off, and strapped me into a four-point harness in the copilot's seat.
Approaching the Pu'u O'o vent on the flanks of Kilauea, the most active lava producer in recent years.
Pu'u O'o.
The Pu'u O'o vent, left of center, and the smoke and steam from its lava trailing off to the ocean, on the right.
The lava continues to eat away at what's left of the Kalapana Gardens and Royal Gardens subdivisions, their neat, straight roads still visible.
Lava doing its bit.
A cul-de-sac.
Lava fires.
Lava fires.
Lava fires.
Hilo Bay.
Waterfalls have carved their way through the older lava flows from Mauna Loa, whose 1984 eruption brought lava to within ten miles of Hilo.
Approaching Hilo Airport. The main terminal is at the upper left.
The main caldera of Kilauea, seen from Waldron Ledge.
On a bike trip, one of my fellow bikers demonstrates why wandering around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park after dark would be dangerous.
Sunrise over Hilo Bay from my lanai. Really roughing it.
Waipi'o Valley. The road leading down into the valley is incredibly steep, over a 25% grade. It's a challenge even for a Jeep, so I chose to hike it.
Waterfall at the mouth of Waipi'o Valley.
The beach at the mouth of Waipi'o Valley.
The beach isn't quite "black sand," but is a very dark gray.
It's Hawaii. Of course there are surfers.
The climb back up out of the valley was, mysteriously, about three times as long as the hike down.
A nene, the endangered Hawaiian goose. They must have been easy pickings for early settlers - they're remarkably tame.
On a drizzly day, I hiked the Napau Trail, which requires registration with the Park Service, and the signing of liability waivers. This isn't fog - it's steam, and the trail was occasionally tough to follow.
The end point of the hike, Makaopuhi Crater, still steaming.
Makaopuhi Crater.
The mineral content of the lava varies wildly from place to place, yielding some wonderful colors.
On a better day, I returned to the Napau Trail to see where I'd been. The Makaopuhi Crater is just below the forested hill, right of center.
This is what I couldn't see when I was hiking the trail - the Pu'u O'o vent, very active and very dangerous, just over the next rise. No wonder I had to sign my life away to be allowed to hike out there.
A lone hiker, far left, on the Napau Trail.
When in the park, you always pay attention to the wind direction, to avoid getting stuck in the volcanic gas plume from Kilauea. They had to shut down the visitors center one day that I was there, because it was directly in the line of fire.
Full moon over Hilo Bay.
Lapahoehoe Point, where the 1946 tsunami destroyed a school, killing 24 students and teachers.
Lapahoehoe Point.
Lapahoehoe Point.
Lapahoehoe Point.
Lush vegetation in Akaka Falls State Park.
A serious Banyan tree.
Akaka Falls.
Akaka Falls State Park.
Akaka Falls State Park.
A one-lane bridge on the road to Onomea Bay.
Onomea Bay.
On the road to the summit of Mauna Kea. There's usually snow up here at this time of year, but while it's been cold enough, the island is suffering from a persistent drought.
NASA tests things like the Mars rovers up here, for obvious reasons.
The summit of Mauna Kea is home to over a dozen telescopes - radio, optical, and infrared.
The Keck I and Keck II telescopes on Mauna Kea.
A popular spot for astronomy, with clear skies and no light pollution.
More telescopes on Mauna Kea.
The actual summit of Mauna Kea, at 13,796 feet (4205 meters). Even though it's only about a hundred feet higher than the road, the climb is tough because you've come from sea level to this altitude in about two hours.
As the sun sets, a lone radio telescope peers out from between extinct volcanic cones.
Time to prep the telescopes for the night's viewing.
Bundled tourists waiting for sunset on Mauna Kea. Very cold, and very windy.
The sunset show gets underway.
Sunset on Mauna Kea.
Show's over - time to head back down the mountain.
The Puna Coast Trail crosses young land along the coastal plane.
Mineral-laden lava yields interesting patterns.
Sometimes, a single lava flow can contain various minerals, like this red iron oxide and green olivene.
Fine-grained lava layers.
The green sand beach near South Point.
Do not adjust your monitor. The sand really is this color, because it's loaded with olivene.
Fishing gear on South Point, the most southerly spot in the United States.
Wind turbines on South Point.
An earlier attempt at wind farming, undone by cheap oil prices.
Cows have taken over the old wind farm.
In need of serious maintenance.
The Kilauea Caldera.
The currently active vent of Kilauea, seen from the caldera floor.
The only indication that proceeding further across the caldera floor is a bad idea.
The active vent within the Kilauea Caldera, the Halema'uma'u Crater, seen from Jaggar Museum. This is as close as they let you get, for good reason.
Humpback Whales in Hilo Bay, seen from the B&B. They put on a show like this every morning.
Whales waving and spouting.
Pololu Valley, at the northernmost point on the Big Island.
Pololu Valley.
The Kohala Coast, much drier than the east coast, but geologically more stable.
Pu'Ukohola Heiau, a temple built by King Kamehameha in 1790-1791, in the belief that it would give him the power to conquer the entire island chain. Nineteen years later, he succeeded.
Pu'Ukohola Heiau. Next stop, the airport in Kailua-Kona, and home.