Today we wanted to get up into the mountains, to get a better sense (and view) of the island. The ever-trusty (though not always trustworthy) AllTrails had pointed us to a hike across three volcanos, with about 2500 feet of elevation gain over an 11 mile loop.
Before getting started with our hike though, Kat spent some time poking in the tide pools below our Airbnb. She promises she was being safe.
It took about an hour to drive up to the trailhead. After a bit of hiking on pavement and looking at birds, the first mile of trail is a narrow lane with barbed wire on either side. Not especially a friendly experience, but what was friendly were the cows on the other side of the barbed wire. Of course they stood just far enough away to avoid petting. Hrmph.
At the base of the first volcano, the terrain and flora changed dramatically, from farm fields to twisted trees covered in moss. The path was steep but not too rocky, so a lot easier to navigate than our route yesterday. As we got higher, we got some awesome views of the peaks in the distance, as well as the farms below. In the distance, we could see the tops of clouds. Above us, it was just sunshine, which was wonderful – though we were very thankful for sun hats and the shrubs around us.
As we moved through the hike, we experienced numerous subtle shifts in the terrain, the plant life, and the hiking. The different volcanos have unique little micro-environments – some areas with mounds of scoria pebbles, some with exposed lava flows. Some areas were extremely muddy and tough to traverse, while others were dry and easy (we were thankful to have our hiking poles).
The plant life was probably the highlight – sometimes spooky, sometimes vibrant, with an impossible variety of shades of green. And then, about halfway into the hike, near the highest peak, we came to a grassy area with a small lake. The perfect place for a picnic. There were a few other groups picnicking as well – it turns out there’s a way to drive to the nearby peak and then hike to the lake.
Fortunately, the return leg of the loop was extremely gentle, with a gradual descent – even though the hike up had been great, endless steep switchbacks get tiring after a while.
Our hike wrapped up mid-afternoon, which gave us time to visit the nearby volcano museum. Our hike had raised a lot of questions about the different eruption cycles of the island, so the museum was a great chance to dig into the science. Only some of the exhibits had English translations, but we learned a lot about both the ancient and more recent history of the island.
We wrapped the day up with some grocery shopping and some well-earned time in the hot tub.