OHE August 15, 1999 (Kilauea)

Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 23:41:12 -1000
From: Carmen C. (carmenc@pixi.com>
Subject: Kilauea

This past week I was fortunate enough to spend at the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) at Volcano on the Big Island. I'd been there once many years ago and remembered very little of the hiking details in the area but felt confident about waking up early and investigatingthe surrounding trails. By Wednesday, August 11, after three days of investigating, I had talked a group of eleven into an afternoon crater hike. We departed the camp at 12:45 and reached the trailhead of Halemaumau about a half hour later after going through the sandalwood forest.

We were eager to start and chattered our way down the 400 ft. to the crater bed. Most of the people in the group were from the mainland so we stopped frequently for pictures and tell stories as we made our way along the trail to the Halemaumau Crater. The trail wasn't as clear as I had remembered and I used a combination of the Halemaumau Crater and the piles of rocks along the trail as guides. Once we reached the crater, I went to the end and threw my legs over the edge to enjoy the view (much to the dismay of my hiking friends). The views of the active steam vents and the surrounding sulphur made many people speechless and all we could hear were the sounds of camera shutters. (My pics will be on my page soon I hope. :-)

After a little teasing about Pele needing a sacrifice we headed back and decided to follow the Byron Ledge Trail to view Kilauea Iki. By this time the a'a lava was making a dent on our feet and spirits were beginning to diminish. At one point we stopped in the middle of the crater to refuel and talk story. I handed out extra water, li hing mango, and a variety of flavors of life savers. I was asked where we were going to go from there and having never been on the trail before stated that it looked to me like we were going uphill, then back down and back up. To my dismay I was correct. Luckily the conversation and talk about botany kept us distracted. There was a bit of whining as we headed back into the crater but I alluded to my previous speculation about what was ahead (only one person recalled it at this point.) We were back on the lava, all had to use the bathroom but were afraid to use Pele's living room, and the pace picked up quickly. 8.5 miles and 5 hours after we started, we rolled into KMC. I checked my boots out before I went to bed and large chunks were dug out of them from the lava. This might account for the blisters that were on a couple of toes after this adventure.

The following day we wanted to check out Kilauea Iki and the Thurston Lava Tubes and had to decide between that or the bus tour. Of course we chose foot (reluctantly) and enjoyed different vistas than the previous day. The walk was a round trip of about 6.5 miles and we took great delight in pointing out where we had been the day before to a couple of newcomers. Unfortunately all physical problems on all people that had hiked Wed. were exacerbated Thursday, and the hula show that evening didn't help bare feet (I won't go there). I offered an early morning hike Friday for the group but packing, hangovers, sore feet, etc..... made that impossible. I decided instead to take a short hike to the Sulfur Banks Trail and watch the steam baths in the early morning mist. Beautiful.

Last notes about KMC:

- The hiking did very little to offset the massive amounts of food we ate. The KMC cafeteria is great.
- Duct tape your feet before hiking across the crater. A'a hurts.
- Visit the Volcano winery (Had to throw that in, they give great tours).
- If interested, call ahead and ask the forest rangers for advice. They are more than eager to help.

Here's to everyone having a great week.

Carmen :-) (With her feet on ice)

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