We spent the night at the Chalet Kilauea in Volcano Village, just minutes from the rim of Kilauea Caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We were up at 6:30 am to get ready for the breakfast bus, which took us to the wonderful Kiluea lodge. The dining room has wonderful views of the rain forest and has a big fireplace with a wonderful warm fire.
Our first hike was to walk through the Sulphur Banks. At places along the sulphur banks you can see the smoke and smell the sulfur coming out of the openings in the ground. It reminds me of Yellowstone National Park with sulfur smoke but without geysers.
We were able to see the gradual slope of the extinct crater, Mauna Kea, in the distance. When we returned to the Ranger Station we had lunch of turkey and cheese on tortillas. There were chips, dips, and cookies. There’s always plenty of food.
Next we hiked the Kilauea Iki Trail across the lava crust formed by the 1959 eruption of the Kilauea Iki volcano. The entire trip from the Sulpher banks to the Lava tubes via Kilauea Iki Crater as 5.5 miles.
Once we walked on the flat ground of the Kilauea Iki Crater, one of our group treated us all to a beautiful rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and he dedicated it to his wife, Helen. It was a wonderful gesture and very nicely sung.
While we chose a route that
descended down to the lava crust; some of our group chose to hike along the rim of the caldera. Their mileage from the sulpher banks to Lava tube via the Crater Rim was about 5.0 miles. Our leader asked us to come up with a song and dance routine so that those of who took the rim route could see us from above and hopefully hear us. I thought of singing “Papa u mao mao” song because it sounds Hawaiian.
Everybody went along with the idea. Luckily, one member of our group knew some of the words to the song and it sounded pretty good to us to be singing backup to the lyrics. There was really no one around to hear it. When we met up with the rest of the group, they said that it sounded good but from the rim they could not make out the words we were singing.
Once across the lava crust we ascended the side of the volcano until we reached the rest of our group. Many Hawaiian flowers and ferns were seen along the trail. We all went together through the Thurston Lava Tube (lava tubes are formed when the lava is cooling and some spaces are formed which are large enough to walk through).
After lunch we drove to “the road that is no more” because of the lava that has flowed across it in the last 10 years. The name of the road is Chain of Craters Road. We walked about .75 miles to where the lava flowed across the road as recently as 2004-2004 and portions of the road are still visible under the lava. We laughed and photographed a sign that says “Road Closed”, stuck in the lava. It rained on us like crazy and I was wishing I had carried my rain poncho. I was afraid I would drench my camera but it was ok.
Along the hiking trail we were able to see a family of endangered Hawaiian Geese searching for food.
Total mileage for the day: 6.5 miles. It was so wonderful to get back to the hotel and take a shower and warm up. We were off to dinner and then to bed for the night.