Watching a volcanic eruption. Seeing the lava spurt up and flow into the sea. Feeling the heat radiating from the earth’s core.
It sounds surreal. Unbelievable.
And there was no way I was going to miss it. There was no way I was going to have my children miss it.
Even if it meant no food and a two mile hike in both directions – with the last quarter mile over hardened lava.
And did I mention we did all this in the dark? With just a measly flashlight to light our path?
Those are the words I would use, but not then.
On that Easter Sunday, it seemed perfectly logical that we arrive on the outskirts of Pahoa, pay a parking fee, and then begin hiking to where the lava was erupting.
By the time we arrived it was dusk and M was asleep in the backseat. DH hefted him onto his back and began walking. Thank goodness P was awake and able to walk.
And so we walked. And walked.
And it got darker and darker.
Flicked on the flashlight and kept going. Along with hundreds of other people.
When we arrived at the edge of the hardened lava flow which wiped out the town of Kalapana, I thought – Yeah! We’re there!
And then I realized that the bobbing trail of lights in the distance were people picking their way across the lava field in the dark. Following a preset path of worn white footprints someone had painted onto the black bumpy terrain.
M was awake by now, so DH led our little group, holding M’s hand while I grabbed onto P’s and brought up the rear.
The ground was slippery and jagged. Every step was carefully considered, then placed. And far off in the distance we could see the occasional spurt of glowing red flame. We kept going and all the while I was silently praying that the experience be worth it.
Please be worth the hunger, sore feet, and danger.
And then the path stopped at a roped off area. Beyond the ropes, a burning inferno that looked like hell.
I know my pictures don’t even begin to do the eruption justice, but I did the best I could with what I had. And in the end, sometimes experiences should just be memories. Pictures and images forever stamped on your brain.
After about 30 minutes of watching the lava erupt, we left, journeying back along the same path we first traveled.
And through it all, my boys were troopers. Amazing in their steadiness and lack of complaint. I should have heard whining and moaning, but they were silent.
Because even children know when they have experienced something special. Something that is a “once in a lifetime” event.
Something they may never see again.
DH and I carried the boys on our backs the last mile and when we stopped at a local 7-11 for a late night snack (nothing else was open), they ate Cheerios and Goldfish, again without complaint, and fell asleep over open containers before we reached our B&B.;