On our recent visit to the Island of Hawai'i, my wife and I signed up for a tour of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This was a long tour. We got picked up just after noon and got back to our resort just before midnight. Our resort was located on the northwest side of the island, while the volcanic activity was occurring on the southeast side. As a result, we were driven across the middle of the island on the Saddle Road, which roughly bisects the island, to Hilo and then on to the Volcanoes Park, and then returning after dark.
The tour featured two meals, including a lunch that we ate at a state park on the slopes of MaunaKea. Here is one of the trees in that park. I thought the tree, which was literally half-dead, spoke for the park, which featured wind followed by rain that chased us on toward Hilo. On that leg of the drive we experienced a noisy thunderstorm, including hail, a first for our guide.
The time in Hilo included a visit to Rainbow Falls, a nice little falls in a park overgrown with riots of tropical vegetation.
Yes, it was raining, which is par for the course on the east side of the island. And yes, the humidity was fogging up my lens.
After Hilo, we paid a first visit to the Volcanoes Park later in the afternoon. Pretty unimpressive at that time of day. Our viewing area for the active caldera was probably two to three miles away, which meant we could only view the vapors rising from the caldera.
What was impressive, though, was our visit to the Thurnston lava tube. This feature is essentially a naturally made tunnel that runs about 400 feet underground.
It was tough to get a good shot because of the dim light. This was shot at f/4.5 for 1/15 second at a whopping ISO of 8000. Not bad, considering. This lava tube, by the way, was the location of the scene in the first Indian Jones movie where Harrison Ford was being chased by a giant boulder rolling through the tube.
On our way out, I took photos of some giant ferns, still waiting to uncoil. These coils were perhaps 4-6 inches across.
Following dinner at a restaurant in the nearby town of, yes, Volcano, we returned to the park after dark. The viewing area at the Jagger Museum was 1.2 miles from the active caldera, and the light reflected off the vapor rising from the caldera was pretty spectacular. A close look revealed that from time to time molten lava was being thrown up from the caldera. Here are a couple of shots that I got.
Finally, is a shot taken (with my iPhone) of me and my wife by our guide who used a flashlight to illuminate us (including my retinas) with the volcano in the background.
At least my head did not appear to be in flames.