Fire in my soul; Kīlauea
When I chose Hawaii as my warm place to visit in February, I wasn’t really thinking of much else but the ocean. My visits to the Pacific Coast have long been a sacred rite of cleansing, resetting, and self discovery. It is in the depth of the sounds ushered forth from the wind and waves that I find the purest moments of meditation. As the time drew near I began looking up hiking trails to explore, and getting excited about waterfalls, mountains and volcanoes.
My first full day on the big island was spent pushing my limits on the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Trail. The next was a bit rainy, perfect for exploring underground in the caves near Hilo. I drove south to the coast and then followed it back to my rental stopping at various beach spots on the way. Day three I chose to sleep in a bit and putter around drinking coffee and writing. I waited to leave for Volcano National Park until the early afternoon, knowing I intended to stay until dark. I filmed the drive of craters down to the Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs before returning to the summit.
Upon arriving at the Kīlauea overlook it was clouded with a dense fog, all that lied beyond a short distance was shrouded in mystery. I wandered down the trail choosing to be present in the moment, noticing my movement through space, feeling the air, embracing the smells. When I reached a point where it felt right to pause I stood staring into the mist hanging over the caldera. I mentally thanked the volcano for allowing me to be present before I imagined the wind building up from the coast and coming in to sweep the fog away so that I could capture images of the magma flow after sunset. It was important to me that I accept whatever outcome occurred. I focused on my breath, pushing the thought flows out into the ether and embracing the stillness and silence. A car alarm at the overlook parking lot was loud enough to reach me down the crater rim trail and shook me out of my quiet moment.
As I walked back toward the overlook I noticed the mist growing thinner and more light shining through the clouds. Shortly thereafter I was able to see the overlook in the distance and as I approached I could see the sun setting behind the smoke and glow of the eruption. A sense of overwhelming joy filled me, the volcano had granted my wish and honored me with the ability to bear witness to it.
I captured a video clip of the sunset, and once night fell made my way to the overlook where I joined an array of visitors in gazing out at the mesmerizing visual cues to the bubbling magma within. The stars came out and shone so brightly at that altitude, I found myself grateful for the lighting infrastructure of the island which does not interfere with the night sky. Here is my favorite photograph from that shoot:
On my final day I chose to return to Volcano National Park and allow my instinct to guide me in which trail to follow. It was a gorgeous day and the flora and fauna of the place gave me great comfort.
I saw and heard few other hikers out in these morning hours, and as midday approached I arrived to the caldera. Some of the area was marked off limits due to the current volcanic activity, it was unsafe to approach the deeper recess. The path across a small corner of the wider and shallower stretch of the caldera was open and I had to cross in order to reach the connecting trail beyond.
I hesitated, some small part of me had the impulse to turn back, yet this entire experience in these sacred lands showed me that if I keep going and keep pushing myself, great sights await me. The volcano was calling to me, so I said the ho’oponopono prayer I recently learned and walked out onto the lava rock. The ahu or rock cairns guided me safely to the trail on the other side. I passed cracks and fissures from recent to old and offerings left from previous visitors. It was worth every step.
As I ascended the wooded trail on the other side I found calm peaceful places to watch the birds and gaze out over the smoking crater. The image above shows the trail on my return loop toward Volcano House. It was truly an honor to be amongst the beauty of this land and the energy of Pele. Travel for me is not about vacationing in the common sense, it is all about exploring and discovering. The more I see of the world, the more I understand about myself, and about life.
Love all you see, including yourself.
-Kahuna Nui Hale Kealohalani Makua