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Hiking to see the lava flow

Phoenix
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Hiking to see the lava flow

I just booked a hiking tour with Kaalapana Cultural Center to see the lava flow. But I've been doign some research after including reading through this thread (tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g29217-i268-k50287…) and it looks like the hike is not easy.

My wife and I are both in our 30s and reasonably fit, but we haven't hiked so much. I'm more so concerned whether my wife will be able to keep up, so was wondering if the hike is a good idea or not. Do you recommend that I take a helicopter tour instead?

Other than the lava flow, what else is there to do in the Volcano area? What other tours do you recommend?

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1. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

The requirement on their website, "Able to walk on really uneven terrain for long periods" indicates that it's a difficult hike.

Have you called to ask them about the distance/hiking time involved (assuming that your trip is soon)?

The VNP website has some good suggestions for what to do there (see "Planning your Trip"). http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm

Edited: 11 December 2012, 02:10
Hawaii
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2. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

Here is a video of the terrain people hike, shot in daylight.

If you plan to do it in the dark, factor that in. Unless there is a good moon, it will be dark, dark, dark except for the patch lit up by your flashlights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC2remEvvCI

CA
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3. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

Just do not do the night or dusk hike. I did the hike in 2007, and will do it again in Feb when we return to the Big Island. Standing near molten lava is very incredible. It is not a difficult hike per se. You just need to wear correct shoes. I personally think jeans are a good idea - a little warm but more protection if you do slip (lava is sharp). Also, gloves are a good idea. And you need to take plenty of water. But your guide should be telling you all of this.

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Mount Desert, Maine
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4. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

Why not do the dusk hike? My husband and I are in our 50s. We do hike almost every weekend. We'll be staying in Volcano and Kalapana area in January.

We've never been to Hawai'i before and may never get the chance again. I think the question of how difficult the hike is depends on how badly you want to get close to the lava flow. I just feel the experience would be totally worth a strenuous hike.

We're also going to Maui and I'm trying to convince my husband to do the 11 mile hike through Haleakala crater at high altitude! THAT will be really hard, but again, I really want to experience that environment. I say go for it!!

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CA
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5. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

Just the risk of tripping or slipping is much higher. You will be hiking back in darkness. The thrill comes from being near the lava, and it glows and is just as hot in the daytime. Just my opinion. Yours may be different.

Phoenix
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6. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

Would a tour starting at 3:30 be too late? I'm a photographer and wanted to take some shots of the lava, and around 5 would probably be the best time for it, but then I'm not so sure as I've never been there. I do badly want to see the lava, but not at the cost of injury and spoiling the rest of the vacation. So, I'm hearing all the safety advice!

Hawaii
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7. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

It's best to ask the guides how much of that tour would be in darkness.

I've done 15 minute night hikes, with other people so more flashlights. It just requires real focus on each step. I think it would get very tiring to do that for five hours.

In that video they are walking on pahoehoe lava, which is relatively smooth although it has cracks where you can wedge a foot or turn an ankle. If the terrain involves crossing a'a lava, it's razor sharp, jagged, and smaller rocks, not slabs. Ask the guides what you will encounter.

CA
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8. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

My wife is also a professional photographer, so I fully understand the "magic light" that occurs early / late in the day as opposed to harsh mid day lighting.

I don't wish to talk you out of a late afternoon hike. Many do go on these hikes night time, and few are injured. But, the lava can be glass sharp, and if you trip and fall, there is high likelihood that even blue jeans will be ripped and you could possibly be scratched or cut.

The one advantage of starting your hike at 3:30 pm is you have the whole way out to become familiar with the terrain and the type of footing (the lava can break into smaller pieces, and thus you can hit an area where if there is some slope your footing slides out much as it would in loose gravel. That having been said, provided you don't hit rain, the surface of the lava actually provides excellent traction. Then you have areas where you will be going up and over chunks of lava.

You should be able to find lots of You Tube clips where you should be able to judge if hike back in night time conditions is of concern to you.

In either case, it's an awe inspiring sight, and that's why we will be doing the hike again ourselves this February.

Edited: 11 December 2012, 22:23
Hawaii
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9. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

Read up on the difference between the gaseous lightweight sharp a'a lava and the dense, heavy, ropy pahoehoe. The hot lava you will view is a pahoehoe flow, slow moving lava. A'a is produced by a more explosive process. Check it out around Kapoho lighthouse, where there was fountaining lava in 1960.

Both kinds can be found all around the island. The a'a will easily shred jeans and slice up shoe soles. Part of the advantage of a guide is knowing how to pick an easier path through this area without trails.

10. Re: Hiking to see the lava flow

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