Hiking through a Lava Field

Dirk, Tracy, Domingos, and I decided to sign up for a guided lava hike. We used Aloha Lava Tours, run by husband & wife team Cheryl and Scott. They were absolutely fantastic – professional, knowledgable, informative, humorous. Most importantly, they found us great lava to view!

It only took us about 20 minutes to drive to Scott & Cheryl’s property in the Kalapana area. They live past the main lava viewing parking area, so we were allowed to go past the guard and continue onto their land. The land had been right in the path of lava flow and the roads destroyed, so for 8 years they hiked a mile to get to their farmland, packing in 50-lb. bags of fertilizer, building supplies, and living supplies.

We checked in and were given a flashlight and pair of gloves for the hike. There were 21 of us on the hike, and I was a little worried that not everyone would keep up (it seems inevitable with a big group), but it was actually a really great group and everyone had no problems keeping up with Scott’s brisk pace.

After waiting for everyone to arrive and signing waivers, we climbed into a cute little vehicle they had put together on the back of a truck bed with a roof and benches. This took us 2 miles down the road so we could start our hike into the active lava area from there. Along the way, we passed lots of little homes right there on the old lava flow, totally off the grid. No one is building anything fancy or expensive – too much risk – but it was cool to see people reclaiming (or first claiming) land and making a life there.

We walked along the road for just a little bit longer before entering the lava field.

Once in the field, Scott and Cheryl had us hike single file, and encouraged us to put the gloves on (which had a outer lining of thick rubber) – this was to protect our hands in case we fell. The lava looks very slippery, but actually has great grip, and luckily we had no falls in our group the entire time. Tracy and I wore the gloves, even though it was hot – I’m not risking my hands! The lava contains a lot of silica, so if you fall on it you can get all sorts of glass embedded in parts of your body. Some even worked into my shoes. Scott said they go through a pair of hiking shoes every three weeks! The lava does a real number on the soles.

Scott was great at spotting active lava flows and it was amazing (and hot!) seeing it up close. And those are all the words for this post – enjoy the many photos!

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