Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park–the natural playground of my childhood–has a secret network of closed and abandoned roads, most forbidden to cars but open to hikers and bikers on a hunt for adventure. One forgotten highway in particular leads from the side of the historic Volcano House lodge, and it’s a grass-covered road featuring cast-off parking lots and overlooks. This road has been closed since before I was born, I’m pretty sure: it’s so grown over that it’s hard to imagine the time when it was lively and full of traffic.
You can imagine, then, that I ached to explore it again–and do a little hiking fashion shoot in one of its abandoned parking lots, naturally. Why not?
This post, like most of my travel accounts, pairs best with the musical accompaniment of my favorite band of 2015, Lord Huron: “To the Ends of the Earth” is my ultimate ode to wanderlust.
It’s also incredibly fitting in Volcano, where landscapes change, vanish, and re-form every minute. We started out our day’s journey on the Devastation Trail, a quick hike through a cinder desert that always made me feel like I was traveling Mars as a child. A few columns of vog floated up into the sky, but you could still see beautiful Mauna Loa rising up like the back of a surfacing whale on the horizon.
Then it was off to the main area of the Park, where we returned to the abandoned road of my childhood–it was amazing to see how the grasses and trees had continued their conquest of the macadam.
I briefly settled down in the former parking lot to show off the day’s exploration apparel: a floral pocket tee, leggings, weird sneakers that surprisingly matched my shirt, and the lacy cloche hat that’s the answer to all my headwear needs in life.
We take roads and their signature iconography–straight yellow lines, dotted white ones, arrows and road-bumps–for granted, ignoring them every day because they’re so familiar. It was surprisingly meaningful to examine these abandoned road markings and see how they’d changed over time. Moss and lichen tore into the yellow paint with cracks of green and white, smaller stones wedged their way into larger crevasses, and an army of tiny insects and trees celebrated their new kingdom, free of cars.
I could never be one of those “urban explorers” who journey into true abandoned places: but when the Park allows hikers to cross these places where (as Arcade Fire might say) no cars go, I’m happy to look into these little snapshots of time and decay, imagining all the events and changes this road has seen in its long life.