The scenery here at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is absolutely gorgeous. After being introduced to my boss for the week and getting settled into our housing, I spent Monday with the Eruption Crew. They were great company; a lot of fun and very knowledgeable with many interesting stories to tell and random facts about pretty much everything. We were positioned down at the coastline where lava has covered the roadway as a result of various eruptions since 1984 to 2003. Until June of last year lava was flowing directly into the ocean. Visitors can walk down the road until it meets lava rock. There is even a no parking sign still visible that was caught in the lava.
It's really beautiful to see the dark lava rock stretching to the edge of the ocean then dropping off as a steep cliff in the bright blue water below. Looking back towards the gradually tiered mountainside, it's incredible to see the various lava flows throughout the years and what path they took.
One thing that keeps amazing me is the sheer amount of lava that is around the park. It is literally everywhere. Yesterday, we surveyed a hiking trail. At times, there were lava rocks from previous eruptions as far as the eye could see. Then, in the middle of what seemed like a barren landscape, there was a rain forest of lush vegetation. A sign of what the landscape was like before any of the eruptions.
On the hike yesterday, I accompanied Rob, a Park Ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since 2001. During lunch in the forest, I asked about his previous time in the Navy and years leading up to being a Park Ranger.
Reflecting back on it, he said there were things that he would have changed if he knew then what he knew now, as I am sure we all would given the gift of foresight, though he offered his perception on our tendency to be critical of past decisions. He said that he views life as if it were a trail. You must keep looking forward down the trail and can only deal with what is in front of you. There is no use thinking about what you should have done or what would have happened if you had chosen another trail. The best you can do is cope with the conditions in front of you and if you are lucky, you may have come well enough prepared.
At this time, it's difficult for me to be looking anywhere else but forward. I am constantly thinking about my upcoming weeks, where I will be working, how I will be getting there, where am I going to stay when I get there. Though wherever this trail leads I am certain that when it is time to look back, I will reflect fondly on all that I have learned, everyone that I have met, and all the wonderful experiences I have had. And of course, I will be excited for the next trail head.