Return to Goat House Tube

This week’s solo quarantine hike was to Goat House Tube. I have been here before, but had not explored downhill from the entrance, the first time I explored uphill.

The power line access road south of Waikoloa
The power line access road south of Waikoloa

Goat House is my name for this lava tube, there is no official name I am aware of, I just came up with Goat House when I needed a name for it. Climbing into the tube one finds the reason for the name rather obvious.

An early start saw me walking down the power line road shortly after sunrise. This walk is dominated by the large transmission poles and lines overhead. The lines make an ominous 60Hz buzzing, some of the poles are louder than others, with a buzz and rattle of the wires and insulators.

The upper power line entrance to Goat House Tube
The upper power line entrance to Goat House Tube

The first surprise was that unlike the uphill section, the lava tube downhill from the entry is braided and complex, a small maze of tunnels and side passages greets the explorer. I returned to the surface using a different path than I went in.

Looking down one of the passages at Goat House Tube
Looking down one of the passages at Goat House Tube

The uphill section runs a few hundred yards and ends where the ceiling meets the floor. The downhill tube divides several times in the first hundred yards, I did not explore all of the options, it might actually be possible to get lost in there if you have a poor sense of direction.

There are also numerous skylights, more than the three I was aware of. Take a side passage, find a small skylight, too small to spot in the satellite photos. Each skylight a pretty glimpse of the blue sky above.

A mossy deposit of calcite on the roof of Goat House Tube
A mossy deposit of calcite on the roof of Goat House Tube

Yet another surprise, pretty calcium deposits on the ceiling among and coating the usual lava cicles. This is an old tube, at least ten thousand years old, enough time for the calcium to leach from the rock above and form pretty little mossy formations on the ceiling.

I disturbed an owl that apparently makes its home on a ledge high in one of the entrances, the boulders below littered with small bones from rats and mice.

A flock of goats greet me at the upper entrance to Goat House Tube
A flock of goats greet me at the upper entrance to Goat House Tube

In stark contrast to last week I had encountered no goats on the hike to the tube. Thus both I and the goats were surprised when I stuck my head out of the entrance right into the middle of a flock. I was greeted by frantic calls and they scurried away once they figured out what had popped out of the cave.

After emerging I shuck the pack at the rim of the entrance where a nice smooth pahoehoe shelf makes a convenient place to rest, snack on dried bananas, and fly the drone again. I fly high above the tube and power lines, tracing the route in an attempt to spot some of the skylights from the air.

After compiling last week’s video as an afterthought, I intentionally planned to compile a video this week. I shoot some of the scenes I had thought of beforehand, and remember to use ND filters for smoother video. I also remember to shoot a few clips of my hiking along using the tracking mode on the drone, something I forgot last week. This time I can tell a better story.

Drone batteries drained and the day getting warm I headed back. Again a satisfying hike behind me.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

3 thoughts on “Return to Goat House Tube”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *