This hike was the experience of a lifetime. It was exciting and challenging and awe-inspiring and maybe a little terrifying too. We went with Kalapana Cultural Tours, and they were fantastic. Here's our guide, Koa, leading us through the lava fields.
The lava fields stretched on as far as the eye could see - it was like being in one of those post-apocalyptic movies - and I was amazed that he could guide us when, to me, everything looked the same. It was also amazing to me that life was still able to spring up in these types of conditions, like this ʻōhiʻa lehua tree.
Here's a picture of the hardened lava up close.
And here's another just to show how different the lava can be.
This was no easy hike. As our guide said, "If the lava looks like it's going to crack, it will crack." The unevenness of the terrain meant you had to be very careful about where you put your feet. And the lava is SHARP. I sat down for a minute, and when I got up there were half a dozen small holes in my yoga pants. Just from sitting! An older couple in our group slipped and got some pretty bad scrapes (we're talking a lot of blood here), but they got bandaged up and kept on trekking.
You had to think about every single footstep you took, so it was both mentally and physically exhausting, but Zack and I had fun with it. Whenever he stepped on lava that cracked or moved or otherwise made him lose his footing, he would say, "J..." and I would nudge him and say, "Babe, Jehovah starts with an 'I'". Since we both love Indiana Jones and we are both huge dorks, we thought this was hilarious.
If you have no idea what I am talking about (i.e., are cooler than us), here's a clip from the movie.
Challenging hiking aside, we finally reached the place where the active lava flows into the ocean (and as you approach it, the air gets hotter and hotter - it's kind of scary). Here are a few pictures as the sun sets.
Next we hiked up to where the surface flows are visible. Mind you, this part of the hike and the ENTIRE hike back are in pitch black darkness. With small flashlights. Over those same treacherous lava fields.
But it's totally worth it if you get to see this.
One of the guys on our hike had a walking stick that he had been using the whole way, and when we got to the surface flows, he pulled out this crazy metal cage attachment thingy and proceeded to roast hot dogs over the lava. It was awesome. So, if you end up doing the lava hike at Kalapana, I have two words for you. Bring. Marshmallows.