Sure, strolling around an active volcano sounds pretty daring, but Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is largely benign and full of intriguing flora and fauna.
When we arrived at Devastation Trail, we were met by this friendly little Nene – Hawaii’s state bird, endemic to the Hawaiian islands. Over the past couple of centuries the population of the rare Nene had been decimated by hunting and the introduction of predatory animals. Through conservation efforts, the nearly extinct bird has been making a comeback.
At first, the meandering trail did not seem to live up to its name. It was a lovely, paved pathway through green forests of hapu’u fern and ohia trees adorned with red lehua.
Rather abruptly, however, the trail ahead opened to reveal the true desolation beyond.
In spite of the harsh conditions, numerous interesting plants had made a home of the dry, foreboding cinderscape.
As we continued along, the trail once again dipped into green forests, which ultimately deposited us at the Byron Ledge trail head. Proceeding onward, the paved pathway gave way to trails of crunchy, glassy cinder. As we continued along the pocked cinder terrain, the trail suddenly turned steep, dipping over the crater rim into another unexpectedly green forest some ways below, standing in contrast against the barren floor of the distant caldera.
Approaching the base of the hill, the trail once again entered the forest canopy. We continued walking trail for some time until we reached the Kilauea Iki trail head which would take us deep down into the bottom of the crater. Unfortunately, that hike would have to wait for another day, as we were running out of daylight and had a long walk back.
Even so, the journey continued to yield beautiful vistas and very interesting flora.
I’d best wrap this up until our next journey! I hope you enjoyed following along.
Thank you and Aloha! 🙂