The Difference Between Hiking and Exploring

My grandsons (Aiden and Isaac, ages 5 and (almost) 7) were asked to go hiking.  What do they pack? Magnifying glass, notepad and pencil! These guys don’t hike, they explore!


Have you ever thought about the difference between hiking and exploring?

To me, exploring means observing and wondering about what is around you, while hiking is more about letting the magic of the great outdoors soak in.

Hiking is great and letting the great outdoors sink in is, to me anyway, as important as breathing!


Exploring, though, is all about asking questions: why is that tree so different? what kind of bird is that? why is that hill there? what’s on the other side of that pond? what kind of animal poop is this? (a favorite with the boys).  Once the questions are out there, it is natural to make guesses, discuss the possibilities with others, research what others have learned and make some conclusions. This is, of course, scientific method.

It is an invaluable skill for people to learn. The Scientific Method is not as much a way to answer scientific questions as it is a method of answering any question scientifically.

Keep exploring, my boys!

hiking kilaueaScientific Method

Something About Lava

Kilauea volcano, on the island of Hawaii, will mark 30 continuous years of eruption next month. It has been a relatively gentle eruption that has made it easy to study in relative safety. This week, I was able to join a group and hike out to where the lava flows into the ocean. The hike, over bumpy frozen lava, was 2½ miles (4 km) and took about 2 hours each way; we stayed out at the point where the lava flowed into the ocean for about an hour before hiking back.

It was incredible! We were able to get right up to the lava, but it was hot! After just a few seconds, we had to back away a a few feet. And you have to poke a stick in it! Best of all was watching the lava flow into the ocean. Sometimes, pieces of lava fall into the ocean and you watch them float out to sea while they are still burning.

There is something about lava that reaches deep inside. It feels like a link to the creation of the world; a reminder that change is a constant.

This link is to a video I created of the experience. On a side note, this video (my first) is also my final ‘exam’ for the Photoshop class I am taking at the University of Hawaii Windward campus.

At Science Camps of America this June, we hope a hike to see the lava will be a part of Science Camp; however, we won’t know if we will be able to do so until it is time for camp, as conditions are constantly changing.

It was an amazing experience – if you ever are on the Big Island and have the chance, don’t miss it!


The trail is now a bit harder to follow.


Pahoehoe lava ‘toe’


Watching the island grow.


Yes, I pretty much could not stop smiling!