Being a Science Communication Assistant in Hawai‘i Volcanoes usually means that I’m sitting inside an office, researching and developing programs on a computer. Although it’s rewarding and fascinating material to learn, I often find myself looking out my window at the lush rainforest surrounding the building.
After finally turning off the computer for the day, I begin my daily ritual. I briskly walk back to my house, change into athletic wear, and bike out to Halema’uma’u Trail. Guests of the Volcano House have used this old trail since 1846. The Halema’uma’u Trail used to travel across Kīlauea Caldera to the edge of Halema’uma’u Crater before it began erupting in 2008. Since then, the hike ends shortly after descending down into Kīlauea Caldera. Halema’uma’u means “house of the ʻāmaʻu fern.” The beautiful trail descends 425 feet (130m) at the southern edge of Kīlauea Caldera through a rain forest that has been re-established numerous times.
The trail is relatively steep and is an in-and-out hike, about 1.8 miles roundtrip. Instead of hiking through, I jog down and hike back up. As a fun challenge to myself, I began timing my roundtrip time. At a leisurely pace, the trail takes about an hour. My fastest time since has been 25 minutes. It’s fun to take it at different speeds, but the most important thing the trail offers is an immersive and isolated trek with nature and rainforest surrounding you.