A walk through Mordor

How we hiked on a lava lake and nearby an active volcano, straight out of a Tolkien’s story.

We spent a few days at Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, about 20 miles (33 km) away from our farm.



Like Frodo, we didn’t have a car so we had to get there by ourselves.



The hike into Kilauea iki crater started off really smoothly, a nice path taking us through the rain forest.



We even got to see these candy can shaped plants, which turned out to be a kind of tree fern called Hapu’u Pulu.



Glimpses of the Crater appeared throughout the lush vegetation. The latest eruption in the crater was back in 1959 when the crater turned into a lake of lava.



When you get down to the crater, you really feel that you landed on another planet.



The flat area is the solidified lava lake from the 1959 eruption. Over 80 millions tons of lava were poured in the crater. It’s 440ft (135m) deep of lava underneath your feet.



This spatter cone didn’t exist prior to 1959. It was the main fountain which spurt out lava up to 210m in the air. Scroll back up and imagine lava reaching the top of the above photograph…



Signs also remind you that this area once was hell, not Disneyland.


Time to take a few panoramic of this other world.



But the LOLs didn’t last for too long and Sauron reminded us who ruled this land. The wind started to blow and within minutes, clouds started to pack above the crater, bringing a drizzly fog with them.



Now our main goal was to reach the other side of the crater that we could barely see and make sure we stayed on the trail.



Hordes of Orcs could have appeared from these hills that i wouldn’t have been surprised..



Half way through the crater, the heavy rain and wind forced us to find a shelter, hoping that the storm would pass quickly.



Trying to find our way to the end of the trail.



Steam vents were all over. The heat was real, you couldn’t put your hand in this hole.


These ‘Ōhi’a Lehua are some of the first plants that grow out of lava rock. It’s said that picking the Lehua flower will cause it to rain.


As we reached out to the other side, the weather started to clear out.



and it finally passed, leaving us a clear view of Pu’u Paua’i lava cone and the tropical forest we hiked down.



On the ground we could pick up pretty lava rocks. Did we just find some Hawaiian gold?!



Hawaiian lava contains the mineral Olivine, which forms deep green crystals.



Life is always finding a way, plants are accessing moisture and nutrients in the lava cracks.



Off to to another crater, Mauna Ulu.



At some point the old road ends, buried under the 1974 lava flows.



Solidified lava flows surrounded us, with another crater on the horizon.



Native Hawaiians used the smooth forms left by lava to record travel around the island, their lineage and communicate current and past events using human representations, canoes, and various geometrical shapes.



Close up of the Pāhoehoe, the lava rock that has a smooth and ropy surface. The crust, partially solidified, is slowed down (by trees, or a if on a flat area) while the lava below continues to move forward, creating the visible wrinkles.



As you get close to the active crater Halemaunau , you are reminded that the area is closed and that you shall use the alt trail.


More vents, this time fully blowing steam

More vents, this time fully blowing steam



Back on the rim, you realize the size of a massive hole in the landscape with smoke getting out of it. It’s nearly a mile (1.6km) in width, and 800 ft (240m) deep.



We waited patiently until dusk to catch the glow of the crater and imagine Sauron’s fires lighting it up.


Tolkien was reported to have identified Mordor with the volcano of Stromboli off Sicily.




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