The Beauty Around Us

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Our Hawaiian Vacation: Day Trip to Mauna Kea

The weather looked promising on our sixth day in Hawaii (May 22), so we decided to take a day trip to Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is one of five volcanoes on the island of Hawaii. Mauna Kea is the tallest of the five volcanoes. With Mauna Kea’s peak reaching a lofty 13,796 feet above sea level, we wanted the sky to be as clear as possible BELOW the mountain peak!

We departed Kona at 9:00 AM en route Mauna Kea.

D5223105 4x6After about a 30-minute drive, we stopped briefly on Rt. 190 so that I could take this picture of the Hualalai Lava Flow of 1800. The lava flow extends all the way to the ocean.

D5223208 4x6One of the roads on which we traveled was called Saddle Road. The road looks a bit like a roller coaster, doesn’t it?

The road to the Mauna Kea summit is about 15 miles long. It branches north from Saddle Road. The Mauna Kea summit road is paved for the first six miles, to the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station. The visitor information station is located 9,300 feet above sea level.

D5223186 4x6I didn’t take a picture of the visitor center itself; however, I did take a picture of this plaque. The Visitor Information Station on Mauna Kea is dedicated to the late Ellison Onizuka, a local astronaut who died in the 1986 Challenger accident.

At the visitor information station we watched a short movie about Mauna Kea and changed into warmer clothes. When we left Kona it was 80 degrees. The temperature at the visitor information station was 50 degrees. It would be even colder when we reached the summit.

After hanging around the visitor information station for at least 30 minutes, as it is recommended in order to adjust to the change in altitude, we began our climb to the Mauna Kea summit. Beyond the visitor information station, the Mauna Kea summit road becomes steep and unpaved for about five miles. The remaining four miles approaching the summit are paved and not as steep.

D5223136 4x6Climbing the last 4 miles of roadway to Mauna Kea summit
If you look closely above the near rock pile towards the top of the photograph,
you will see the roadway that we still need to climb.

D5223139 4x6This was the view as we approached the Mauna Kea summit.

We parked near where the road reached its highest elevation at 13,780 feet. We had a beautiful view from Mauna Kea. We could see the ocean, other mountains, and observatory equipment. The Mauna Kea summit area is popular with astronomers worldwide, mainly for its clear and thin air and minimal light pollution.

D522314 4x6Bob, with Nasa Infrared Telescope Facility in background

D5223157 4x6UK Infrared Telescope

If you look closely to the right and center edge of this photograph, you can see the trail leading to Pu’u Wekiu–the highest point, at 13,796 feet, on Mauna Kea.

D5223155 4x6Pu’u Wekiu

Bob and Dorothy hiked the trail to the top of Pu’u Wekiu.

D5223164 4x6Bob and Dorothy at top of Pu’u Wekiu
Dorothy is photographing the summit marker

Leaving Mauna Kea summit we stopped once again at the visitor information station.

D5223175 4x6Descending Mauna Kea summit
Approaching Visitor Information Station (visible in the distance)

We ate lunch (Subway subs) and went on a short walk through a Silversword enclosure area, while at the visitor information station.

D5223190 4x6This is a Silversword.

D5223192 4x6Bob, Dorothy and I in the Silversword enclosure area
D5223193 4x6

We returned to Kona around 3:30 PM. Here is a map showing our Kona-Mauna Kea summit road trip. We returned to Kona the same route that we traveled to Mauna Kea.

 

Later that day Dorothy and I went to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, known locally as the “Little Blue Church”, and took pictures of the sunset. The church is located in Kahaluu, a short distance south of Kona.

D5273981 4x6Little Blue Church

D5223210 4x6Kahaluu Sunset

As I was taking photographs of the sunset, I noticed a Japanese fellow taking photographs with a big camera. As Dorothy and I were leaving, we talked briefly with this young man. The Japanese fellow is a Pentax employee. He was in Hawaii for four days taking photographs for a catalog that will showcase photographs taken with the new Pentax 40 megapixel camera (645D, I believe). We shared photographs that we had just taken. The Japanese fellow said that my photographs were good. I told him that his photographs were way beyond AWESOME!

P5233707 4x6Dorothy snapped this photograph of the Japanese fellow and me.

17 Responses to “Our Hawaiian Vacation: Day Trip to Mauna Kea”

  1. Jen

    Wow you sure did a lot of sight seeing while there.I never think of a spot being at 50 degrees or colder in Hawaii; must have made you feel at home. ha.Great pictures

    Reply
  2. Betsy from Tennessee

    Gorgeous Linda… I would LOVE going to the top of that mountain… WOW—you all were really up in altitude for sure… That is SO neat!!!! Thanks for sharing…Also love you sunset picture… Seems perfect to me.Hugs,Betsy

    Reply
  3. Scott

    What a wonderful road to a beautiful place. I really like the roller coaster road, that looks like fun, even though you took it with a long lens so that it compacted it a lot.

    Reply
  4. Lorraina

    awww the Big Island….now i'm really yearning to return to see the places we didn't see on several visits there.The silversword plant is awesome and i see one in your pics has bloomed. Dosn't it take 100 yrs to bloom and then it dies? I'd like to see it in bloom some day.I think it came close to extinction but i see lots in your pics so hur-ray for the people who are looking after them.

    Reply
  5. Ann

    Looks like you are having a great time.Did you drink some of those Poison water or Kava. (came via Jen's Poison post and your comment.)

    Reply
  6. Linda (PA_shutterbug)

    @Ann – To the best of my knowledge I did not have any Kava or Poison Water while in Hawaii. The poisons I alluded to from Jen's post was potatoes, tomatoes, and most of the other 10 items on the list.

    Reply
  7. Stonehollow

    The last time we were in Hawaii we rented a “jeep” for the day to drive to the top. Keck-I had been finished and they were building Keck II (must have been early 90s). We also walked to “the top”, but at that time (February, I think), there was actually snow up there.I sure don't remember any pavement back then! A road grader made the trip up and down once a day. Local car rentals policed the top as “normal” cars weren't allowed up there.Thanks for the re-visit!

    Reply
  8. Fotobloggen 2011

    Photos of a Hawaii I had no idea of. I think that road would make me sick but I would like to wander around like you did, so interesting. Thank you so much for kind comments!Christina, sweden

    Reply
  9. Joe Todd

    Truly an outstanding post. Thanks for sharing your photos and the tour. Hard to imagine a 40 megapixel camera

    Reply
  10. Greg and Dawn

    Wow! What an incredible time you must have had. The photos were great – especially liked Saddle Road and the sunset. Thanks for sharing! Some day Dawn and I will go and see the islands first hand.

    Reply
  11. Greg and Dawn

    Wow! Fantastic photos! I especially like Saddle Road and the sunset. Someday Dawn and I will get to see the islands too.

    Reply
  12. Andrea

    That sunset is not only good,it is also awesome. I don't know what beyond awesome means, hehe. We also visited an active volcano in Kona but it seems like not Mauna Kea. I wonder if there is still a lower volcano than that, i really forgot now the name. It is either Haleakala or Kilauea.

    Reply
  13. Rose

    What a great experience your trip to Hawaii was…I love that view at the top! It is beyond beautiful.

    Reply
  14. Cynthia

    Wow, that's totally impressive! I don't think I've ever been as high as 13796 feet! Well, except flying in airplanes, LOL!Beautiful views and fun seeing the silversword plants! Oddly, I remember that plant being talked about in a Nancy Drew book from my childhood. I think. Now I know what it looks like!

    Reply

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