Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mauna Kea

Th Summit--Mauna Kea
Sunday after church we headed up the big volcano mountain on the Island.  Really there are 2, one barely taller than the other.  We have a great view from our breakfast window each morning of the top of Mauna Kea, the tallest at 13796 feet above sea level.  If you count all the footage below sea level, then it is in fact the tallest mountain in the world.  There are several observatories on top with good reason.  There is a visitor's center at about 9000 feet where they advise you stop and hang out for 30 mins to give your body some time to adjust to the elevation level if you insist on heading to the top.  They really advise you not go further unless you are in excellent health and have 4 wheel drive.  So we hung around for a bit and then headed up to the top.  Once you leave the visitor's center the first 5 miles is not paved.  I don't know if it is to discourage tourists from continuing on and make you think you need a 4 wheel drive or what, but after the 5 miles it is a nice paved road the rest of the way.  Weird. 

The view is incredible.  It was quite cloudy on our way to the visitor's center, but so clear once we continued on and rose above the clouds.  It was windy and cold, it felt like home, but we were in Hawaii.  We brought some warmish clothes, parked the car and headed up the short trail to the summit.  After making it back to the car and warmth, we had only an hour till sunset, so we stuck around as it got busier and busier for the show.  It was beautiful to watch the sun drop below the clouds on the horizon.

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