Sunday, October 12, 2008

Looking into the mouth of Hell

I was pretty stoked to find out that the lava was flowing to the East side of the lava fields. This meant that we could DRIVE to it, and then a short hike to a lookout, and voila! Last time I was there, the stuff was flowing to the center of the field and the Park Ranger told me: "Yup, it's a 6.5 hour round-trip hike. Well worth it." F*ck that. This was after doing a hike in the park which lasted just over 2 hours, and got me soaking wet when it rained. I took the plane ride instead, and it was great.

This time... we drove to it. And hiked. 1 mile each way. Over lava. Damn. That counted as double. I got freaked out a few times when there was hot steam coming out of the cracks in the lava. And one such area was SILVER, instead of black. WTH??? I later learned that it was lava FRESH from AUGUST. Yeah, 2 months ago August. No wonder... There was no one else out, except two girls that we finally caught up with on the edge of the world. I took their picture, they took my Mom's and mine, they gave me some cool advice, and told me to perch on the ledge above and that was that. I stood on this ledge for a long time, watching the delta below. There was a crapload of steam (and sulpher, gross) from the lava hitting the ocean (it was RIGHT THERE). When the clouds moved out of the way, there it was - a shelf with orange lava flowing across it. Every time I saw it, I tried to take a picture. And every time, the steam clouds obscured it. I couldn't see the lava through the view finder, but I could with the naked eye. We played this game for a good 20 minutes and I finally snapped a few pics. In this one, when I zoomed in, I could see the orange (faintly) on the shelf. Thank God. I sure didn't want to hike back out there for more pics!!!

It was cool, definitely. But it was at least 2 hours of hard hiking to get 2 miles, round trip. And with steam all around, and only the forest to go by (for the safe harbor), I got freaked out more than a few times (and checked to make sure the soles of my shoes weren't melting!!!!). I almost aborted the hike due to concerns (and very few markings, and no other souls out there). But in the end, I'm glad we stuck it out (my Mom had a hard time with the hike and the heat coming off of the lava). We got to look out onto new land being created, see lava flowing into the ocean, and I kid you not: it was like staring into the mouth of Hell.

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