|To qualify to log a find on this earthcache you must:
Email us the two preventative measures taken by rangers to protect the rain forest. This information is found on a sign titled Rain Forest located at the lava tube entrance overlook. OR, if you venture down to the lava tube, walk the length of the lit portion of the tube, looking periodically at the lava tube ceiling above you and email us what evidence you see of the rain forest above. Submit your email through our profile on the geocaching website when you log the find. Do NOT post answers in your log.
Email must be sent at the same time you log the find to avoid deletion. If caching in a group all cachers must meet the email requirement individually.
In 2011 earthcache guidelines changed to make photos optional. Visitors electing to post a photo will be afforded the opportunity to discover our Hawaii Volcanoes National Park geocoin.
Note that the rain forest overlook is wheelchair accessible, but the lava tube is not.
Now you can earn pins through the Earthcache Masters Pin Program. Enjoy!
This earthcache is meant to complement two other earthcaches located within the Park (GCQV5G and GCQV5E), all as approved by the National Park Service and the Geological Society of America in conjuntion with www.geocachingcom. Note: as with most National Parks, there is an entrance fee to the Park.
The rain forest at this site captures the natural process of life. Millions of years ago spores from plants far away were likely carried on winds and the jet stream to this barren volcanic island and this is one of the ways life was brought to the Hawaiian islands. Additionally, migrating birds carried seeds in their digestive tracts or on their bodies and deposited them here. Ocean currents also carried seeds or brought to shore debris harboring insects, plants, or snails. Plants and animals gradually colonized the islands as they evolved and adapted. To illustrate this process consider that the island's 100 endemic land birds evolved from as little as 20 original ancestors; over a thousand kinds of flowering plants came forth from 272 colonizers; and approximately 10,000 insect and spider species evolved from only 350 to 400 precursors. However, the Hawaiian Island's evolution has turned to extinction with the arrival of man. Forests were cleared for crops and communities, settlers introduced foreign species of plants and animals. In some cases these changes have had catastrophic results. Feral pigs now destroy the forests, mongooses, feral cats, and rats eat native birds and their eggs, alien plants crowd out native species. Part of the role of the Park Service is to work towards saving the natural ecosystem of the Hawaiian Islands. This is accomplished through controlling or eliminating disruptive alien plants and destructive animal pests. This allows native plant communities to once again thrive and its natural inhabitants to flourish. The dense, lush rain forest near the waypoint is a typical example of the jungle found at this elevation and rainfall level.
Click on images to enlarge.
For the more adventuresome, you may want to continue down the Thurston Lava Tube path and explore the lava tube (always check with the Visitor Center first for current trail conditions). If you bring a flashlight, you can also explore the unlit portion of the tube. The Thurston Lava Tube was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston. The lava tube entrance is about a .3 mile walk, the entire loop through the tube and back to the trail head is approximately a half mile. You will descend through verdant rainforest. Having your Park brochure handy will help you to identify the flora and fauna you encounter along the way. Lava tubes result from flows that cool and crust over, but which still contain a molten interior flowing downslope. After an eruption stops, the molten core of the lava tube continues to flow out or empty, leaving behind a cave-like tunnel. Lava tubes such as this are very common in Hawaii and can be miles long. The Thurston Lava Tube is an easily accessible example. It is lighted and the floor has been cleared of debris. Though lava stalactites have been removed over the years, you can still see the detail of the lava as it traveled through the tube by studying the sidewalls. Look up at the lava tube ceiling and you will see evidence of the rain forest above. Early Hawaiians often used lava tubes as burial caves or for shelter.