Molten glass and hot lava syrup

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OUTDOORS - > FROM PAGE 15

We saw the first glow of lava from the cracks on the grounds. More sight­ings fol­lowed. Across the end­less fields of black, glow­ing crim­son blobs of lava greeted us. Some flows moved with syrupy slow­ness, stilled then dimmed as if some­one had doused its flames.

We learnt that lava ox­i­dizes and hard­ens the mo­ment it reaches the sur­face, form­ing black crusts on the sur­face. Us­ing a ham­mer, our guide broke open a crust and fresh lava clung to the edge of the ham­mer, as well as long strands of glass, known as Pele’s hair. We stood trans­fixed in the pour­ing rain, watch­ing red hot molten lava as it gur­gled and splut­tered, in­tent on craft­ing its sig­na­ture on the ground.

The re­turn jour­ney proved ar­du­ous in the dark, with only the moon and head lamps for light. We saw a wo­ven bas­ket filled with or­anges and flow­ers. Hawai­ians would make of­fer­ings to Tutu Pele or Grand­mother as she is fondly called, be­fore the con­sump­tion of oh­elo berries on the land, and lo­cal tour guides of­ten con­tinue the tra­di­tion for the safety of their vis­i­tors.

Half way back, I re­alised my miss­ing back­pack. The guide at­tempted to re­trace our steps but the vast land and dark­ness made his ef­forts fu­tile. The last few hun­dred steps were the hard­est as our en­ergy and stamina dwin­dled amidst the lash­ing rain and wind. Step by step – climb­ing past lava mounds, hop­ping over cracks and glid­ing on loose soil – we made it back to our car at 9:30pm. For six hours, we had jour­neyed on liv­ing earth, in­ter­acted with the force of na­ture and de­vel­oped an affin­ity and re­spect for the land. My last thought be­fore suc­cumb­ing to ex­haus­tion on the bed: I hoped Tutu Pele liked the choco­late chip cook­ies in­side my back­pack.* * The back­pack was re­cov­ered two days later by other people, but we never claimed it back as we had al­ready gone else­where. Would you like to write about your ad­ven­tures? Or want to share some tips on in­ter­est­ing out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, safety, equip­ment or eco-friendly prac­tices? Please write in to our out­doors co­or­di­na­tor, andrew Sia, at star2@thes­tar. com.my

ex­plor­ing the un­der­ground thurston Lava tube. When lava flowed through here, it remelted the in­ner walls to form sta­lac­tites from molten rock.

In­ter­est­ing pat­terns cre­ated by the lava flow.

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