Kīlauea Iki Trail (Hawaii Volcanoes NP)

November 28, 2021

Kīlauea Erupting

The United States has no shortage of amazing, beautiful volcanoes. And some of them, while dormant, are very much not extinct. Some have erupted within the past century.

All that said, you shouldn’t visit most of these places expecting to see a molten lake of lava. Unless of course, you are visiting Kīlauea! Kīlauea has been erupting, nearly continuously, for the past 40 years. As luck would have it, I found myself on the Big Island of Hawaii at an opportune moment to witness its fresh, spewing lava first-hand. (The name Kīlauea in fact means “spewing”).

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Sun Notch Trail towards Phantom Ship (Crater Lake NP)

August 23, 2020, Sun Notch Trailhead

A stroll along the Sun Notch Trail

I spent a day last August exploring Crater Lake National Park en route to Bend Oregon. After a sunrise hike to Garfield Peak, I began a drive along East Rim Drive. A recent spate of wildfires had left the lake quite smokey, and sightlines would continue to deteriorate into midday. Beyond this COVID-19 had dashed any plans of taking a boat tour around the lake. But some other short hikes were still on the docket, including this little gem!

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Garfield Peak (Crater Lake NP)

Aug 23, 2020, Rim Village


I arrived just before sunset to Rim Village, having driven that day north from the Bay Area. The summer and Fall of 2020 will forever be known for two things on the West Coast: COVID and fires. Evidence of the latter hung in the air over Crater Lake, which seemed visibly thick with smoke. I felt as though I were standing on the edge of a massive cauldron.

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Devil’s Postpile and Rainbow Falls (Mammoth Lakes)

The Devil's Postpile

July 12, 2020, Devil’s Postpile National Monument


I drove the winding roadway towards the Devil’s Postpile National Monument around the crack of dawn. I had spent Saturday mountain biking at Mammoth ski area, staying overnight right near the main base. As luck would have it, the roadway to Devil’s Postpile runs right past the base lodge, underneath the gondola. The road promptly narrows from a standard 2-way state highway to a winding, unstriped mountain adventure. And the views from this drive are nothing short of stunning. Jagged stone peaks rose up from the rolling hills of conifers, snowfields, and rushing waters—the Eastern Sierras in mid-summer!

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High peaks trail (Pinnacles National Park)

California condors soar over sandcastle rock formations in Pinnacles National Park.

June 30, 2020, Pinnacles National Park

Google Fail

The day began long before sunrise, with a 2-hour drive to Pinnacles National Park. This outing would mark my second national park visit in California in only a few weeks. I aimed to arrive at Pinnacles around sunrise, so I could enjoy a multi-hour hike before the temperatures in central California inevitably climbed into the high 90s.

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Lassen Peak: an entry-level Cascade volcano

Blue skies over Lassen Peak

June 20, 2020, Lassen Peak Trailhead

Lassen National Park

I began the day an hour southeast of Lassen National Park, in the town of Red Bluff. The road to the park undulated through the rolling foothills of the northernmost expanse of California’s Central Valley. Through the haze, I could see the Cascades rising to the north and east ahead of me. First, Shasta came into view, still covered in snow along its uppermost flanks. Then Brokeoff and Lassen Peaks rose over the landscape, dead-ahead, both silhouettes against the morning sun.

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