Kazamura Cave Sept 6, 2008
Sep 7, 2008Public
Photo: We gather at the Schick home. Our guide is Harry Schick (2nd from right), assisted by his father, Harry Sr. (far right).  The cave entrance we will use (one of many skylights in the cave) is on their property.  At about 36 miles long, Kazamura Cave is the longest known lava tube in the world. It runs from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park all the way to the coast near Hilo. A full traverse takes 2 days. We will spend about 4.5 hours.
Photo: The Schicks provide us with helmets and lights.
Photo: Down we go....
Photo: Once inside, Harry lays down the rules. Don't touch anything!
Photo: These aragonite crystals, for example, would crumble at the slightest disturbance.
Photo: roots...
Photo: down another ladder ....
Photo: This is a "dribble spire" -- the last bit of lava to come down a lava "waterfall."
Photo: Harry starts pointing out formations and gives detailed descriptions of how they were formed. I find that I cannot pay attention to him and take photos, so I put the camera away.
Photo: Several hours, many lava falls, ladders, cascades, and canyons later, we reach this strange formation. I decide I just have to take a picture, so out comes the camera again.
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Photo: The camera stays out. I take photos all the way to the end (not very far away) and back.
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Photo: About 30 years ago, says Harry, a pig fell down one of the openings, wandered about in the darkness, and finally died and decomposed, leaving a pretty good impression of itself on the cave floor.
Photo: This spectacular, almost circular pit marks our turnaround point. It was a plunge pool at the base of a lava falls (which was straight ahead in this photo). When activity ceased, the molten lava under the crust drained away, and the crust collapsed. The "stalagtites" above were built up by the splashing of lava while the falls were active.
Photo: A hole in the ceiling above the pit.
Photo: Looking back the way we came.
Photo: We start the return trip.
Photo: This is "Snake Canyon." It reminds me of slot canyons in Utah.
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Photo: Harry calls these dribbles "green lava" though they look more brown to me.
Photo: The only example of yellow lava that we see.
Photo: Harry explains that these lavacicles form just like icecicles