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by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Graphic from Photo by Donald B MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Halema’uma’u Crater Overlook

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Mauna Loa behind Halema'uma'u Crater: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Breathtaking, awe-inspiring, sacred. Clearly overcome with awe and wonder, when he visited Kilauea a century and a half ago, Mark Twain remarked aptly: “…here was room for the imagination to work!”

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

As if someone left the door to Hades ajar, Halema'uma'u as seen from Jagger Museum, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B

A spectacular eruption has been underway in Halema’uma’u Crater since March 19, 2008. Because of this, Crater Rim Drive is closed at Jagger Museum and at the junction with Chain of Crater Road, so the Halema’uma’u Overlook is inaccessible. Great viewing of the eruption can be had from Jagger Museum; views of the ash cloud at night, lit up with the glow of molten rock from below the surface of Halema’uma’u, are particularly exciting. Please go here to learn more about this eruption.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Appeasing the goddess at Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The Hawai’ians revered the area around Halema’uma’u Crater as the home of the volcano Goddess, Madame Pele, who journeyed from Tahiti to Ni’ihau and Kau’ai before settling down at Halema’uma’u. For generations Hawai’ian Kahuna came here to divine the future, hold rituals, make sacrifices and appease the goddess with offerings. Commoners among the native Hawai’ians were not allowed within sight of the sacred grounds. Continuing into modern times on several ceremonial days each year (in times of eruptive quiescence), modern Hawai’ians gather on the crater floor to perform hula dances and other rituals to appease the goddess Pele.

Offereings to the goddess at Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Steam fumaroles at Halema'uma'u, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Today, a large parking lot and several trailheads converge at the junction of the two crown jewels of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea Caldera and inside it, the more recent center of eruptive activity, Halema’uma’u crater. Not many years ago, there was an active lava lake in Halema’uma’u Crater, which was first documented by Europeans in 1823 by William Ellis. Over the past 230-some years of recorded history, more the 20 major eruptions have taken place here.

Offereings to the goddess at Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

New life clings to the edge of Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

In 1924 an explosive eruption shattered Halema’uma’u Crater, doubling its size and the lava lake drained. A spectacular fire-fountain eruption occurred inside Halema’uma’u in 1974, and the crater floor has risen and fallen a couple thousand feet over time from more than 1300 feet deep to over-flowing into Kilauea Crater.

Offereings to the goddess at Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Kilauea Crater and Eruption of Halema'uma'u from Kilauea Overlook, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Currently, Halema’uma’u Crater is a robust 300 feet deep and 3000 feet across; even so, it is almost lost inside the lager and deeper Kilauea Crater. Although covered with a hard crust of frozen lava, both craters still steam and smolder and the volcanic heat flowing up through them is still very evident, even on a hot day. A whiff of sulfurous gases emanating from the many steam vents is also evident to the modern visitor; a century and a half ago, Mark Twain commented: “…the smell of sulfur is strong, but not unpleasant to a sinner!”

Offereings to the goddess at Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Bradford MacGowan and Liz Maus at Kilauea Caldera, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Many natives, kama’aina and tourists alike pause here at the overlook to offer the goddess gifts of food, flowers, gin or feathers wrapped in leaves.

The easy, half mile walk around the overlook is well worth the thirty or so minutes it will take. This hike requires no special equipment or preparation. For a longer hike, taking off from the Halema’uma’u Trail at a bout ½ mile, the Byron Ledge Trail follows a ledge system above the crater floor 3 miles to the Devastation Trail and ultimately to Kilauea Iki Crater; this is best done as a car-shuttle hike. Another wonderful hike, though dry, hot and challenging, is the 3.5 mile trek across Kilauea Caldera leads back to the Volcano House, which takes 2 hours of steady hiking. These two latter trips require you to take plenty of water, rain gear, suncream, a map and compass (and the knowledge to use them), to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and to be in fairly good physical condition. As always when hiking in the Park, it is wise to avoid the noonday sun, and afternoon showers, particularly along the crater rims are common.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Along the Halema'uma'u Overlook Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Remember to wipe all gear down and to clean the lenses of cameras, binoculars and glasses after visiting the crater; the volcano smog has a corrosive effect upon precision optics and electronics.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Aerial view of Halema'uma'u Crater in Kilauea Caldera, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html.

The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Amy and Amanda Maus at Halema'uma'u Overlook, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan


For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.
All media copyright 2010 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Appeasing the goddess at Halema'uma'u Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Graphic from Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking Out of Kaumana Cave: Graphic from Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Kaumana Cave

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kaumana Caves Couny Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A skylight opening in the 25-mile long Kaumana Cave is located at this county park, just west of the 4-mile marker on the Hilo side of the Saddle Road (Hwy 200 or Waianuenue Avenue).  Concrete stairs take you down through the fern, philodendron and rain forest jungle to the floor of the cave at the bottom of a collapse pit, which also forms two entrances to the cave. Even the casual visitor will be fascinated exploring the openings to these caves, which are cool and welcoming during hot weather, and dry (or ”drier” at least) when rain pours in Hilo.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Staiway into Kaumana Caves, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The lava tube was created by a flow from Mauna Loa in 1881 that threatened the city of Hilo. History has it that Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani camped directly in front of the advancing lava flow and stood praying, beseeching the goddess Pele to spare the city.  The flow stopped a scant 2 km from the city, so it would appear that her prayers were answered.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking ut the large entrance of Kaumana Cave, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Most people are drawn to the entrance on the right, a large, opening leading to cavernous rooms.  In this entrance, graffiti from hundreds of years ago to the present is preserved, scratched into the rocks.   The entrance on the left, however, is more interesting, leading through squeezes and low spots to numerous rooms with fascinating speleo-architecture and cave formations.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The smaller, uphill cave entrance is less frequently visited, Kaumana Caves, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The average visitor will want spend their time in the lighted openings of the caves, which go to true dark in fewer than 300 feet in either direction. A quick tour of the caves, for which no flashlights are needed, takes fewer than 20 minutes.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The path down to the larger Kaumana Cave entrance, Hilo Hawaii: Photo byDonald B. MacGowan

For the adventurous, there are more than 2 miles of easily accessible, wild cave to explore here.  If you intend more than just a cursory inspection near the entrances, bring a hard hat, water and at least 3 sources of light.  The caves open onto private land—the County of Hawaii requires you to get prior permission of landowners and sign an assumption of risk waiver (available at the cave) before exploring deeply into these caves. A brief discussion of exploring Kaumana Cave more deeply, including a list of equipment and clothing to bring and discussion of risks, is contained here.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Loking out of Kaumana Cave's Entrance, Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Parking for the caves is located across the road from the park; extreme care should be taken when crossing the highway.  Public restrooms, drinking water and picnic tables are available at the park.

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kaumana Cave's Historic Graffiti, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Frank Burgess works feverishly filming in Kaumana Cave, Hilo Hawaii: Photo byDonald B. MacGowan

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

by Donald B. MacGowan

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Mauna Loa looms over the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Whether you visit the Big Island for a few days, a couple weeks or a few months, you want to make the most of your time in Paradise. With such a wide variety of natural and commercial attractions, it is natural for the visitor to get a little overwhelmed in the “Option Overload” and not be able to make a balanced and informed decision on what they want to do and how best to spend their time.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Warrior Footprints of the Ka'u Desert as photographed in 2006, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Even choosing which beach you want to spend time on, or where you want to hike can be an exercise in confusion and conflicting advice.  Clearly, visitors to Hawaii could use help making quality decisions about how best to spend their time.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Frank Burgess hikes the Ka'u Desert Trail: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Tour Guide Hawaii is excited and proud to announce the release of their new GPS/WiFi enabled App for iPhone and iPod that helps you navigate your trip to Hawaii with hours of informative, location-aware video and information. Although our video guide will lead you to dozens of unusual, untamed and unspoiled spots, let’s look at a hike you might have heard about, but might not be able to find from maps and guidebooks and would otherwise miss if you did not have Tour Guide Hawaii’s new App.

Ka’u Desert Trail/ Warrior Footprints, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Ka'u Desert Trail as it winds away from the Parking Strip, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Just inside the National Park boundary, where the Hawai’i Belt Road enters Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from the West, is a small parking strip that many visitors, in a hurry to visit more well known attractions, might overlook. You should slow down and pay closer attention, because this small parking lot is the gateway to a host of wonders within the Mars-like landscape of the Ka’u Desert section of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Ka'u Desert Trail is part of a vast system of intersecting trails within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

From about 4200 feet elevation down to sea level, the Ka’u Desert Trail wanders across this high, barren expanse of basalt and sand dunes formed of volcanic ash. Other trails intersect the Ka’u Desert Trail and travel from the Hawaii Belt Road east to Kilauea Crater as well as west to the intersection with the Ka’aha Trail then down the Hilina Pali to the coast. Seldom in a National Park is such unrelentingly inhospitable, but intensely spectacular, land made so accessible by trail.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Unconsolodated ash sifts across the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There is no water, there is no shade, there is no protection from the elements; the land and climate are as unforgiving as they are alluring. For details about hiking or backpacking in this spectacular, empty portion of the Park, contact the Backcountry Office at the Kilauea Visitors Center (808.985.6000). Do not venture from your car here without carrying water.

Unconsolodated ash sifts across the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Ka'u Desert Footprints are preserved under a small ramada: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

But there is something more about this seeming unearthly spot that inspires people’s imagination and draws them to visit this lonely place. Less than a mile, scarcely a twenty minute walk, from the parking lot are the remains of footprints made by a party of doomed warriors more than 200 years ago.

Ka'u Desert Footprints are preserved under a small ramada: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The lunar-like surface of basalt and ash of the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Kilauea’s eruptions are generally characterized by the leisurely, almost peaceful outpouring of lava and occasional more than mild earthquakes. However, it is not unknown for Madam Pele to erupt in a blast of fury, spreading ash and tephra for hundreds of miles. As recently as 1790 and again in 1924, such violent, steam-driven eruptions have occurred. These eruptions result from groundwater percolating downward through the earth to near the volcano’s magma chamber. The water becomes super-heated and, surging along existing structural weaknesses, makes new conduits to the surface, finally erupting in a roiling mass of superheated steam, ash, tephra and rocks. This type of eruption, and the ash they produce, are key to the mystery and eeriness of this site.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The same footprint as shown above, but photographed in 2010; note that erosion and vandalism have greatly degraded the integrity of the cast: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The warrior footprints preserved here under a modern ramada are believed to have been formed in 1790. At this time, Kamehameha the Great was solidifying his military and political hold on the Island of Hawai’i, though not all his foes were vanquished. His cousin Keoua organized an army and, while Kamehameha was occupied elsewhere, he seized parts of Ka’u and Puna districts. Keoua sent an army overland to directly challenge Kamehameha…however, camping overnight at the volcano they were caught by the massive, explosive eruption. Fearing he had angered Pele, he organized his army into three columns for a hasty retreat from the falling ash. The first column seems to have emerged unscathed, but the second column went missing. When these warriors and their families were encountered by the third column, come searching for them, they were found dead on the ground, in close groups still clutching each other, overcome by the toxic volcanic fumes. The footprints seen here along Ka’u Desert Trail are from these doomed warriors and their families, made and preserved preserved in the the shifting ash dunes of the Ka’u Desert landscape. It is said that as many as 400 warriors, women and children died here.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ka'u Desert Ohia Lehua Blossom: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The people of Hawai’i Island accepted Pele’s judgment against the interloping Keoua and, although he continued to fight, he never came close to turning the tide of battle against his cousin, Kamehameha. As an ostensible peace offering to his cousin, Kamehameha invited Keoua to the ceremony sanctifying the newly erected Pu’u Kohola Heiau. However, when Keoua’s canoe approached the temple grounds, he was seized and immediately sacrificed to the War God, Kuka’ilimoku, thus becoming the first human sacrifice at the new luakini heiau and ending a vexing political problem for Kamehameha, all at one time.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Ka'u Desert Trail as it reaches the Warrior Footprints: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

An emergency phone is available here; there are no other services.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Warrior Footprints are preserved under this Ramada in the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Frank Burgess

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ka'u Desert Ohia and Bee, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan