The clouds begin to break as the wind moves them up the slopes of the mountain. Peeking from behind the clouds is one of the world’s largest volcanoes, Mauna Loa. At the foot of that mountain is its younger volcanic sibling, Kīlauea. Its large volcanic caldera and pit crater is surrounded by a beautiful fern rainforest. That is one of the interpretations of how the crater got its name: Halemaʻumaʻu or “house of the ʻamaʻu fern”. It can also be interpreted as Halemaumau or “house of eternal fire”. Both interpretations are correct because Kīlauea is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. I am gently reminded of this fact by the occasional small earthquake that wakes me up in the middle of the night.

This is a place that is constantly changing — natural elements doing an eternal dance. Where once a lava lake boiled, a few years later now contains a lake of churning green water. What will this view look like in a few years? No one knows. Nothing is certain in a place where the rocks move beneath your feet. This may seem scary, but I find it exciting because there’s always something new to learn!

Intern stands in front of large volcanic caldera

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