Kīlauea: spending the night next to a lava flow!

🌋 Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi, also called the Big Island. Located along the southern shore, the volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. The currently active lava flow is called the 61g flow. Until October 2017, it was flowing all the way to the ocean. Now the flow ends higher uphill on the slopes.

We started the hike at night, near the ocean, walking uphill on the recently solidified lava. It was a surreal terrain: shiny, silver and brittle with fabric-like textures and folds – but this was solid rock! We made it to the flow and decided to spend the night there. We settled for a spot right under the lava flow as it was close enough without being scorching hot.

We slept under the stars on the clear moonless night, with fresh lava crackling and turning a mere 20 ft from us. About 7hrs in, we heard a loud sound as the lava cracked out of a spot much closer to us. Then we noticed steam bursting out from the rock we were sleeping on! I placed my hand on the rock and could feel a strong rumbling vibration underneath.

Within seconds we collected our sleeping bags and gear and were off that rock and onto safer ground. That’s when I took this picture!

It was a very humbling experience to spend this time with Tūtū Pele, the Fire Goddess, and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.

Disclaimer: we had done a lot of research, knew what we were doing, and made sure we were safe at all times.

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