I recently got back from my trip Hawaii, where I was able to summit Mauna Kea, my 49th highpoint! We were planning on going up on the evening of the 22nd to highpoint and to star gaze. Apparently, Mauna Kea is one of the best places in the world to star gaze!
Unfortunately, the day we were planning on going up, it snowed about 15 inches!! Well, even if it was canceled, that wasn't going to deter my plans of summitting. If I had been on an airplane for 12 hrs, and spent an entire day traveling, I wasn't planning on coming home with out that highpoint.
So, Thursday morning at 3 am we headed out to Mauna Kea. There's a road at the top that we were initially planning on taking, but due to the snow, the road was closed. I even talked to the park ranger, and he said it would be a better bet hiking up the road instead of the trail, due to deep snow drifts. The road is considerably longer than the trail, an extra 4 miles round trip. The visitor center that we parked at is around 9,200' and the top is 13,796'.
The road up was a long slog. The initial 4 miles were on a pretty gravely and uneven dirt road. But, the roads were in fantastic shape! Lots of government vans carrying astrologists to the 11 observatories at the top kept passing us. At 11,000' we saw our first signs of snow, but still the roads were fine. After the 4 mile marker, the road turned into the most beautifully paved road I'd ever seen. We could see the road winding back and forth up the side of the volcano.
When the sun rose, we could see across the island to Mauna Loa, the second highest mountain in Hawaii, and it was completely snow covered as well. A thick layer of clouds were constantly following us up as we hiked up the road.
Since we had been literally at sea-level for the past 5 days, the altitude had really been bothering me. I felt tired, had a headache, and felt waves of nausea. But, I couldn't turn around! When we had reached 6.5 miles and 13,000'. We flagged down a truck, (by then they had opended the road to the public, because there was no snow and ice on the road) and some nice Hawaiians gave us a lift up to the observatories. From there, we only had to hike another 1/4 of a mile to get to the true highpoint.
The surrounding landscape was mostly snow covered with rocks sticking out here and there, but my Julbo sun glasses really prevented the glare! And, unfortunately I forgot my hiking shoes, so I had to wear my sneakers! But my Darn Tough Socks kept my feet warm and dry all the way up!
Here is a picture of us at the top!
I'm glad that I've completed Hawaii, it was an incredible trip in an amazing place!