Finally found a reason to visit the current lava flow. I’ve watched the slow destruction of Royal Gardens subdivision for more than 20 years so, now that the newest flow has reached the last Kipuka with more than one street left, I had to visit them one last time. Well maybe. The little strip of Orchid AV might survive this as it’s in an elevated area.
The hike was the usual 2-3 hours depending on your hiking ability. It was a mixture of many kinds of weather from the start.
There was rain, heavy rain and monsoon type rains with strong swirling winds. Certainly not ideal for photos.
This was more of an exploration/scouting hike. It was slow going on the hike out there due to how slippery it was from the constant heavy rain. Then there were the hours crouched under my way too small umbrella. The swirling winds prevented me from even trying to take a photo for the most part. I did have a very brief opportunity to capture two shots of the lava flowing through the trees under the bright full moon. The contrast of colors was amazing and the Nikon D800 captured it perfectly. In those photos you will see two palm trees leaning and ready to fall. My hopes of getting better shots of them disappeared when the next powerful rain squall moved in and blew them over. The lava had flowed all around them and the trunks burnt away. I do have shots later in the morning after the rains had stopped showing the newly formed tree molds with flames coming out of it. Shot video too. Don’t hold your breath on when they will get processed.
Every now and then the rain would subside from monsoonal to heavy and I would walk a few feet to the near liquid flow and stand on it to dry off. Yes, standing on that hot of a flow does dry you off very quick. Do not try this. I know what I’m doing. I sat and watched the slow destruction of the small forest through the heavy rain for a few hours.
Sunrise could have led to some great photos but, alas, the rain and winds were too much. It was a sliver sunrise that sent a deep orange beam of light shining on the burning forest. Its on my list of paintings I plan to do. Yes, I plan to some day paint all the sights I’ve witnessed but, couldn’t get photos of. First I need to learn how to paint.
I was surprised to see after sunrise that Ali’i survived. The road had all the overgrown vegetation burned away but, the lava slayed to the east in a gully and it made its way from east to west along what use to be Paradise. Paradise was at the bottom of Ali’i. 670′ elevation. This was the best formed tube system and it fed a flow that went down the west side of the Kipuka. It also buried the old rusted out car that was there. The other tube was making its way down the east side. The center of the Kipuka is higher and it was diverting the lava east and west. This might save Orchid Av that sits 400′ in elevation lower down the pali at the 270′ elevation. These are real numbers. I carry an altimeter. So if someone goes there and tells you they were at the 2000′ elevation which seems to be common, you can correct them. Its easy to do. Look at a Topo map. Its what we used before the internet came to be.
Its survival all depends on the longevity of this episode. Prince Av on the other hand could be gone by tomorrow (Wednesday). Its a short dead end section. I have hiked all of Royal Gardens since the early 90’s and its amazing to see how little is now left. Lots of birds and other creatures losing their homes. Even saw fresh wild pig poo on Ali’i.
There have been the usual amounts of misinformation going around about this flow. Not sure what people are thinking. Its nothing massive or fast moving. Its really sluggish considering how steep the terrain is. The forest is full of junk like old car parts and parts of old dwellings. There are no standing houses in there. Only parts of rotted or burned ones. The flow is wide but, that will surely change as tubes take hold and the volume of lava stays within them. Of course one good deflation will most likely stop this flow. Stay tuned.
Yep, its time for the warning of “Don’t try and do what I do“.
If its raining that hard, stay home in bed. I seem to enjoy miserable weather. Must be from growing up in Michigan where its always windy unless its 100 out and there are two seasons. Winter and the 4th of July. Do not try and cross shallow hot lava flows. You will get burnt. Its an art and I’m good at it. You mess up and your in big trouble. Not to mention your going to need new hiking shoes/boots afterwards. Most of my photos were taken on the hot flows. My tripod doesn’t like me anymore. I’m not talking 5′ high and deep flows with glowing cracks. These are newly formed and shallow.
Most of the images in the gallery are for documentation of what will soon be gone forever. Someday I will put together an album of what Royal Gardens looked like when I started and what it is now. The two full moon ones will go into my Volcano Fine Art gallery. Maybe one of the fallen Palm trees with the tree mold too. I will test how they are going to look on the new island shaped metal prints too.
Don’t forget to check out the only one on display anywhere at Krazy About Kona in the Kona Inn Shopping Village. 10:30-5pm Mon-Sat.
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