Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hawai'i Vacation- Day 3- part 2 Mauna Kea

After the lesson from the Tsunami Museum I went on another guided tour this time to Mauna Kea.  Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the Hawaiian chains, also the tallest volcano in the world, 13,796ft.   It is considered a dormant shield volcano for about 4-5,000 years now.   
View from 9,000ft.  Stopped at this point to let our bodies adjust to the altitude for about 30 minutes.  

 The road up, officially above some clouds.
 Close to the summit

Because of Mauna Kea's altitude it is a great place for star gazing and star watching.  Among many telescopes and astronomical observatories, the worlds largest mirror is here, Keck Telescope.

The terrain is much like that of the moon.  In fact, they tested some of the equipment here that was later used on the moon.  
 Pathway to the summit.  It doesn't look like it but the wind is whipping by and it really hits you hard after making that turn to the right up that slope.  On the way up to the summit the wind was so strong (40m/hr) I was having trouble walking.  
View from the summit.  It was cold and windy with poor visibility this day.  There was no star gazing that night.

Within minutes of getting there, it turned into a full blown blizzard...the rangers were asking all visitors to head back due to the weather.

Pretty crazy that only a few miles away is the Ocean and the weather is 70's F.  I had to laugh because I saw a pick up truck with the back full of snow on its way down.  Apparently a common past time is to have snowball fights on the beach.

Another historical fact provided by the tour guide.  Back in the day this mountain was considered so sacred that if you were not a native of the island you were not allowed to even go on the mountain.    

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