Molten glass and hot lava syrup
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.