The volcano in Hawaii is active with lava visible at the summit for the first time in 33 years. Our apartment is located about three hours from the summit and viewing is best at night when the glow of the lava is more obvious. We debated making the round trip in one very long day, and then discovered that a campground is located not far from the summit!!! We decided to go and camp for one night and to continue and circumnavigate the island after seeing the volcano.
This plan presented a challenge as, while we have a tent and sleeping bags, the tent poles are damaged and we no longer have a stove, or dishes, or a cooler or...many things. Also, the temperatures at the top of the mountain promised to be cooler than the tropical ones we are now prepared for. The logistics were a bit daunting but we made our plans, bought our groceries and we were off.
When we arrived, we found the campground and pitched our tent. It was lovely, a grassy area under huge trees nestled against hills. It had very rudementary facilities, but was just right for a night. As a bonus, there is a path from the campsite to the summit, which was great as the traffic getting into the park, especially at night is very heavy and parking at the summit at a premium due to the interest in this latest eruption.
We made our way to the summit to see the lava during the day...and it was incredible! The caldera is a mile away from the observation point, but even at that distance we could see the lava roiling and erupting from the side of a huge lava lake. The outlook was crowded with people, tourists and locals alike who are coming, sometimes daily, to see this rare sight.
We returned after dark via the short hike, and the view was even more stunning as we could see the lava lake itself, which is much harder to see in the daylight. The low clowds glowed with the red of the lav and we could see this glow from the pathway as we approached. We stood in the rain, and the cool temperatures until we were too cold and wet to continue...it seemed like minutes, but a couple of hours had passed us by as we watched. We hiked back to the tent where, despite its damaged poles, dry beds awaited.