Pele's Birth Process
Sometimes fountains of lava burst out into the pitch black sky, and other times, there will be a gentle flow snaking its way from the emergence point down to the sea. One night while I was there, the Park Service opened up a viewing area far enough away from the eruption for viewers to be safe. It was a popular event and I ended up having to park a couple of miles from the destination, the Kalapana viewing area. (If you're planning to be on the Big Island, check out the best viewing conditions at the National Park Service site.)
This link will take you to video of nighttime viewing of an April 2015 overflowing of the lava lake.
The walk was challenging at night by flashlight, as I had to watch every step on the path of an earlier black lava flow that had cooled in the shapes of swirls, waves and eddies. It crackled beneath my feet as the thin crust of the black obsidian gave way. Park Service markers led the way out to a point where I could see the lava flow. I happened to be there on an active night with a party atmosphere, akin to watching fireworks, complete with the exclamations of "oohs" and "ahs" as the eruptions reached up into the sky.
The energy was exhilarating and mesmerizing. It was so hard to peel myself away when they said we had to go. Creation in motion--the thrill of destruction and generation, in a moment outside of time, with a sense of danger and anticipation, I was witness to a sacred process. The land positively buzzed with a high energy of newness and potential, and as I stood there watching, I felt the youthful elixir streaming up through my veins to heal me. I felt that I had been given a rare gift in this glimpse of the raw power and beauty of Mother Earth's creative process, for I had been privileged to watch Her give birth.
By way of update, Pele's never finished creating. The live cam of Kīlauea Caldera.
Here's some great footage of the nighttime lava flow in 2013: Lava Flow March 27, 2013.