Losing my Way in the Lava Field


On the Big Island of Hawaii is Volcanos National Park. Lava flows in a constant, living, changing river of molten energy.

This kind of energy one can feel in your body. It is my favorite of all the islands, less developed in the part that we visit.

Kilani Honua is a small echo-resort on the eastern most tip. It is close to where Kalapana USED to be. The road ends abruptly to a black craggy lava field from the massive eruption in 1990. Plants exert their power here, ready to spend a century or more breaking down the rock into soil.

On one visit, our leader offered a sunset viewing of the lava flowing into the ocean. The path was different than today and access has changed. We grouped into pods of six to eight with a “leader” in each.

A lava field is a moonscape of undulating hills of sharp rock, crevices, and hidden lava tubes where active lava might still be flowing. We stopped for snacks on the way since our excursion would have us missing dinner.

Were we advised to wear hiking boots, take an adequate supply of water and nourishment? I don’t recall the instructions, only the need afterwards. Yes, the hike of perhaps a couple of miles was arduous, but well worth it when we perched high above the shoreline to see the steam and glow of the molten rock hitting the ocean.

Then the sun set. Our local guide told of spending the night out in this blackness on a moonless night when she had lost her way. Even with a weak flashlight there were no landmarks. Each step was treacherous. Believing myself in a spiritual place, I prayed. I have never prayed for my own survival in such a way. Our guide had vanished into the darkness as well as our fellow travelers.

I believe in the Mystery which brought us safely out.