Once was not enough, I had to do it again. The allure of lava too much I planned yet another run across island in the middle of the night to see the lava at Kilauea.
This time Deb would come along, mistakenly agreeing to to 0130 alarm clock and possibly regretting it as she climbed out of bed. Thus we drove through the night passing through the park gates a little before 4am.
A larger crowd greeted us this time. The parking lot was lamost half full and there were more folks passing us on the walk out to the viewpoint.
This trip would feature a bit of moonlight over the caldera rather than the dark skies of two weeks ago, a quarter moon in the eastern sky. I had hoped for a few thin moonlit clouds to use in the compositions, but this did not happen. The morning was completely cloud free over the caldera, and nearly calm, the plume rising striaght up from the lava.
Again the best spots at the rope were taken, but a little haggling solved that issue. Viewing through the little telescope I carried and a few photos with it are a valuable bargaining chip, a deal that left everyone happy.
Again I met Philip Ong in the usual corner of the viewpoint. Nice to have an actual geologist to chat with, discussing odd details of the lava lake below us.
The lava fountian was not nearly as active as it had been a couple weeks prior. Gone was the 20m (65ft) fountain, rather a bubbling caldron in the spatter rampart around the vent. The spatter stucture had clearly grown much larger, and occording to Philip, was rising over time as well, floating upwards with the slowly rising level of the lava lake.
Shoot a little with my own camera, let Deb have a turn with the telescope, shoot a few from a tripod while letting a few visitors have a view through the eyepiece. The hours at the viewpoint dissapeared quickly.
The same plan after lava viewing as last time… Off to the Crater Rim Cafe for breakfast before the drive home. Tired, but glad we had again made the effort to make a volcano run.