Windmill Walk

Another Sunday hike. This one requires no drive to reach the trailhead, I put on my boots and swung the pack over my shoulder at the front door. This time I would head north out of the village to the Lalamilo Wind Farm.

A typical ranch road trail near Waikoloa
A typical ranch road trail near Waikoloa

I have hiked out this way before, but have not gone nearly as far out from the village. The hike is along old ranch roads through the pasture land that surrounds Waikoloa Village.

The grassy hills that surround Waikoloa may look inviting from a distance. It is when you actually attempt to hike here that the true nature of the area becomes apparent. These are old aʻa lava flows, studded with loose rock and clinker, difficult to see in the thick grass threatening to trip you, roll an ankle, or scrape your chins. You quickly learn to stay on the old ranch roads and jeep trails, which form a web across the landscape.

The cool morning air makes for a pleasant walk through the low hills. Goats are everywhere, bleating kids echo across the landscape, billy’s keep watch on you from boulders perched above the trail.

The facilities and detritus of cattle ranching are scattered across the area. Here an abandoned watering trough, another filled with water and operational. A wrecked and abandoned IH semi tractor sits in a corral rusting back into the earth.

A still morning greets a wind turbine near Waikoloa
A still morning greets a wind turbine near Waikoloa

It is not until you get close that you realize just how big the windmills are, they loom over than landscape. The five Vestas V47/660 turbines stand 55m (180ft) high and have blades 47m (over 150ft) long.

With no wind the blades are still and feathered. I take advantage of this to fly the drone around and get some nice photos before finding a bit of shade. I take a break to eat and drink before starting the walk back to the house. I figure the walk put 7.4 miles behind me, just a nice morning stroll.

A Changing Landscape

A tale of two lava lakes, of a landscape altered in way so dramatic it is hard to comprehend.

We think of solid rock being the ultimate in permanency, something about the world that should never change, at least in the span of a few months. Geologic change takes thousands of years, not less than one, it just seems wrong when this rule is violated.

Places we once stood, or parked a car, a hiking trail across a plain of solid rock… All gone in a dramatic upheaval. A parking lot the lies upon a block of rock the size of a supertanker, sitting hundreds of feet below where I once parked the car. Change is the reality of an active volcano.

The glow from a lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu lights the clouds prior to the May 2018 eruptions
The glow from a lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu lights the clouds prior to the May 2018 eruptions

I have seen change on this scale once before when Mt. St. Helens removed a mountain top that stood upon the horizon of childhood memory. Here at Kilauea the change was a bit slower, but no less dramatic.

I look across that caldera and note the places that are the same, the places that are gone. I may understand what has happened and how, but still some parts of my mind insist that this just cannot be true… Solid rock should not disappear or crumble like a cookie.

The glowing pit of Halemaʻumaʻu with the new lava lake
The glowing pit of Halemaʻumaʻu with the new lava lake

The return of lava to the crater seems like a return of normalcy. There was lava here for years, there should be lava here. Perhaps the lava will cover over that yawning pit that should not be. Fill the yawning chasm that affronts my senses so.

Perhaps, if the crater continues to fill, flooded to the rim with new lava, a new caldera floor will form, the cycle complete. Perhaps it may be possible to once again walk across the floor of Kilauea Caldera.

Visiting the New Lake

The lava burst forth from the crater wall just before Christmas. After two years of quiet the volcano has again erupted. Within hours the lake of water that had been slowly growing had been boiled away in a huge plume of steam.

Gazing into creation at Kilauea Caldera
Gazing into creation at Kilauea Caldera with the stars of Crux and Alpha Centauri above

I knew within minutes that an eruption had begun, tapped into the island grapevine. While I considered making a midnight run across island I had to bow to the needs of life and regretfully went to bed.

Now well into the new year I finally had a chance to photograph the new lava lake.

Continue reading “Visiting the New Lake”

A Conjunction Moon

I rolled the telescope out of the garage to view and photograph the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. It is impressive to see the two gas giants side by side like that. The photos were less of a success, with soft seeing they are not great. OK, the photos suck.

The Moon was a different story, high in the sky the seeing was much better. Since I had the camera on the telescope I shot a few photos of the first quarter Moon.

Look closely along the terminator and you can find the Lunar X, the V, and the Vallis Alpes…

Conjunction Moon
The Moon at first quarter on Dec 21, 2020

Greeting a New Year

We are now in the year 2021 by the Gregorian calendar used for much of the world. The celebrations are done, with the scars left by fireworks in our street now fading. We look forward to another year after the the stressful and destructive times of the last twelve months, a year that will loom large in memory for the remainder of our lives.

Point Retreat Lighthouse on the north end of Admiralty Island, Alaska
Point Retreat Lighthouse on the north end of Admiralty Island, Alaska

While the calendar now reads 2021, somehow 2020 seems to drag on. I feel that the remnants of 2020 will not truly be gone until January 20th, and maybe not even then. Perhaps later in the spring when vaccination programs end the viral rampage through our communities.

As we rebuild our lives and try to recover some sense of normality we might look back and try to understand the lessons taught by the year 2020. These lessons are both small and personal or large enough to threaten the foundations of our civilization. We have seen into ourselves and into those around us, the true nature of so much revealed by stress and argument.

Will these lessons be learned? Will things change? While we might be able to change ourselves for the better more easily than we can change our country, both need to be done.

While we plan for the coming year and move forward we rely on experience, something that 2020 was rich in. May you live in interesting times… The old curse that seems so applicable to the moment.