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Steam Vents
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Steam Vents

As you head on down to south Puna from north Puna you first have to cross the great divide or rift zone where the evidence of the island being torn in two is visible. The rift zone has generally been pushed higher into a mini mountain range if you will.

At this line of demarcation at the very crest of the ridge along the highway from Pahoa to Kalapana are the steam vents. This particular one is further back and doesn't seem to get as much traffic. As you see you descend into the bowels of the earth via a conveniently provided ladder.

Nice Day at Black Rock

Here is a guy enjoying one of the open air spots on an especially nice day when there is no rain.

In this situation you are broiled from below and baked from above. Be sure to bring your sunblock.

As you can see from the angle of this photo, the whole area is a vertical climbers' delight. So if you intend to explore off the path (like I did getting these shots), you will need your sneakers rather than sandals.

The Steam Cave

By far the most popular vent, this appears from the outside like a big mound with greenery hiding any obvious clues to the real workings going on within. Inside is a true steam bath operating 24/7 free of utility bills.

Here you see just the entrance right center and the clothes left outside by the current occupants.

There is a wooden plank bench that someone put in there and another piece of plywood that you can prop up as a door to intensify the experience. You can feel the earth's heat puff at you until you can take no more and have to surrender. Generally for me it is about 20-30 minutes.

Keeping the Heat In

Some enterprising steam enthusiasts have sealed the top of the hollow steam cave (previous picture) so that the it becomes a virtual turkish steam bath.

You can make out above left center a lava column formation that was formed long ago. This whole area looks like strange stalagtites that were formed as the lava erupted slowly enough to harden as it emerged forming vertical rather than horizontal rocks.