Sunset at Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Straight from the heart of the earth, lava streams up as the beginning of islands and continents. It smells like fireworks: sulphur. Lava is rock being river, cascading into the sea. In Hawaii, lava symbolizes the goddess Pele, passionate sculptress and dancer. Some say she lives in Halema’uma’u crater on the Big Island of Hawaii. Those who know her well bring gifts of gin and ohelo berries, which they toss into the steaming caldera with prayers of respect.
If you dare to walk in the dark over dangerously uneven lava shelves with a flashlight, and you have sturdy shoes that you are willing to sacrifice (because sometimes the heat of the lava river coursing ten feet under the trail can cook the glue holding your shoes together), take a seaside walk after sunset at the bottom of Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to some place you decide to stand in the dark and watch neon bright streams of lava flow down the mountain and into the sea.
You will not be alone, but, rather, on a pilgrimage with thousands of others, almost any night you go. Not everyone wants to walk all the way to the edge of the cliffs, because sometimes the lava cliffs break off into the sea. But some people always do.
Moonrise over the ocean at Chain of Craters Road. Note lava on the left.