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We Like to Walk

Tullahoma, Tennessee
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We Like to Walk

My wife and I are planning an eleven day stay on the BI. We will have a car and plan to have our base in Hilo. We like to walk and would appreciate suggestions for walks/hikes in any area of the Big Island. We have looked at the HVNP web site and have a guide book for that and other areas, but we would like suggestions from others who have been on the Island. We do 1o miles or so a day, sometimes 15.

hawaii
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21. Re: We Like to Walk

"I was under the impression that to go beyond the Napau crater outlook (towards Pu'u O'o) is illegal,and obviously potentially very dangerous. Comments please?"

General advice on my part re hikes / walks in Volcano National Park. ALWAYS check with the National Park Service for closed areas and advisories. Given current situation at Pu'u O'o, I think the access to entire area may be restricted for the next few weeks. But... this is a volcano, and not fully predictable. Things change such that what is safe one day, is not so a day or two later. And vice versa. To be honest, I have seen things change in a matter of hours in terms of monitoring surface flows, such that some individuals... and cars... where lucky not to find themselves "in the heat of things".

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check in with the folks at the park. They know the situation of the hour. It is their job. And trust them... they tend to not over or under state a situation in my experience. And respecting a volcano, while seemingly obvious, is something that deserves a double check of preparedness.

The volcano is more than potentially very dangerous... it IS very dangerous. The folks at Volcano National Park do an amazing job of allowing people to be insanely stupid, while also taking responsible action to close of, or rope off (yellow tape usually) areas that are significantly hazardous. This includes the bench areas (that can and do collapse, sometimes with little warning) and closing off areas where the gas levels are simply a hazard to mucus membranes (hence the masks you see on volconologists).

One thing not mentioned in this thread is walking and air quality. We have "vog" (volcanic smog), thanks to the current eruption of Kilauea volcano. Vog is SO2 (sulfur dioxide), some other volcanic gases, oxygen, dust, moisture, and what is termed "aerosol" which is primarily sulfuric acid ... with a smattering of toxic metals. How much of each in this mix of not-good-stuff-to-inhale, depends upon where you are on island, and the conditions in that spot. GENERALLY, the air in Hilo is pretty good, since prevailing tradewinds sweep vog away from Hilo... sometimes away from most of the island. But, when winds are slack, or not typical trades... ugh. Generally, I would say when Hilo is thick with vog (you will know), head over to the Kona side, maybe South Kohala. But sometimes just going a few miles north makes a huge difference.

Discussion of travel books aside, the Big Island is like no place on earth. It is an active (we have a good number of earthquakes), breathing (out gassing) place that in Earth time is brand new... "earth" is being created, and you can watch it happen at times. In human time, it is a place of rich history, some of which we are trying to piece together, in some cases using the newest of technologies to reveal structures and designs long forgotten. I know this is straying off the topic a bit, but to all who come to Hawaii, especially the Big Island, as you drive, or better yet walk, know you are on the most isolated island chain on this planet: roughly 2500 miles from the nearest major landmass. Consider the Big Island hundreds of years ago, with a population double of what it is today. Consider what it means to be sustainable and ponder what such a culture might be able to teach us all: Islands Hawaii / Island Earth.

Pahoa. HI
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22. Re: We Like to Walk

I'm not referring to any day-to-day changes but to the fact that, as far I know, it has always been illegal to proceed past the Napau crater lookout and hike over to Pu'u O'o. And if you want to do the Napau hike, you're ALWAYS supposed to check in at the Visitors Center first and register.

But the only issue here is whether it's legal or not to proceed beyond Napau. If it is indeed illegal, as I suspect, then to recommend this hike to unknowing visitors is not what I consider appropriate.

Pahoa. HI
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23. Re: We Like to Walk

Just a quick update to my previous post. As chance would have it, we had someone stop by here just an hour ago, and this person works part-time as a park ranger in HVNP. He confirmed that it is definitely illegal to proceed beyond the Napau camping ground (right next to the Napau lookout) towards Pu'u O'o. This is not a question of "...the access to entire area may be restricted for the next few weeks..." but the simple fact that it's just plain illegal to hike beyond Napau. Now, as well in the past, and in all likelihood for the foreseeable, if not indefinite, future.

Edited: 28 February 2010, 05:18
hawaii
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24. Re: We Like to Walk

"the simple fact that it's just plain illegal to hike beyond Napau. Now, as well in the past, and in all likelihood for the foreseeable, if not indefinite, future."

Closure areas are Park Superindent designations. It is not a matter of legal or illegal as if there is a line of trespass and that is the law. The issue is volcanic hazard areas, as designated by the park head honcho.. The goal is generally in trying to keep people safe.. perhaps too, keep the lawsuits at bay.

Regarding how long an area will be closed due to volcanic hazard is simply not something I am willing to predict. Madame Pele has her own scheduling of events and activities that I am simply not privy to. But she leaves me in awe. Always.

Since hiking Napau is the discussion now, I gently remind readers this is a day use permit trail, as is well in the guide books, and at the park (as are closure areas). Be safe, enjoy this unique place, walk (alot!) and bring water / snack with you. And do not litter!

Edited: 28 February 2010, 15:34
hawaii
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25. Re: We Like to Walk

Since hiking Napau is the discussion now, I gently remind readers this is a day use permit trail, as is well INDICATED IN THE GOOD PARK HIKING BOOKS, AND I HOPE TOO, IN MOST OF the guide books, and at the park (as are closure areas).

Sorry about the lost essential words (and not wanting the accuracy of info members... who are all wonderful here imho... to get too perplexed).

Kona, Hawaii
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26. Re: We Like to Walk

Thank you hawaiipalms for getting us that information, I would hate for anyone to unknowingly do something illegal based on misinformation from this forum.

Washington DC...
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27. Re: We Like to Walk

A quick look at VNP shows that

www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/hike_napau.htm

"The Napau Trail and Campsite, and Na`ulu Trail are open, however, the area beyond the campground is closed due to the extreme instability of Pu'u 'O'o as it continues to collapse.

...

Register

All day hikers and overnight backcountry users must register and obtain a free permit at the Kilauea Visitor Center (7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily). Permits are issued on a first-come basis no earlier than the day before your hike. Overnight stays are limited to 3 nights per site; group size is limited to 12 people. A total of 16 people are allowed per night at the Napau Crater campsite. Camping is only allowed at the Napau campsite.

Backpackers to Napau should be adequately equipped, physically fit, and free of respiratory and heart ailments as hikers may be subjected to toxic gasses emitted from the erupting vent, Pu'u 'O'o."

Info on closed areas is here: http://www.nps.gov/havo/closed_areas.htm

Edited: 28 February 2010, 18:55
28. Re: We Like to Walk

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