Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Taking a breather from heavy duty climbing ...
After seeing an article in a magazine about red hot lava flowing out from a volcano in Hawaii, I just had to fly out to see it. Although friends suggested the red hot girls on Waikiki beach would be far more interesting.
Anyway, since I was in Hawaii, I just had to climb Mauna Kea, 4200 meters, highest mountain in Hawaii, and higher than Malaysia's Kinabalu. In typical American fashion, a beautiful road was built all the way to the top. No wonder so many Americans are so fat. They don't need to do much exercise!!! This road is described as narrow and treacherous in the Mauna Kea Visitors' Center website, but that is because they have never seen some of our Aussie roads !!!
It took only about an hour and a half to drive from Hilo, a coastal town on the east side of Big Island, to the top of Mauna Kea. The road doesn't quite reach the summit. You need to park the car, then take a 10-minute walk.
Aside from a few astronomers working on their telescopes, there was no visitor at the top ... very quiet. This was amazing !!! I had only climbed two big mountains so far - Kinabalu and Kilimanjaro. Both had heaps of people paying heaps of money for climbing permits and braving the torturous hikes to the summit. In contrast, here, one can visit such a big mountain in the comfort of a car for free, yet there was not a soul around ... amazing !!!
Just proves when a thing is free, no one wants it. Put a large price tag on it and everyone thinks it is valuable and wants a piece of it !!!
Scenery is fantastic. Here are the pictures:
1, 2, 3: Road side scenery on the way to Mauna Kea
4: The 4-wheel drive I hired. All car hire companies stipulate you can't take a 2-wheel drive car to Mauna Kea. You must hire a 4-wheel drive.
5: Mauna Kea is in the distance.
6: This is Mauna Kea. You can see the 10-minute track leading to the summit (from a carpark). Because of the short drive from the coast at sea level to here at 4200 meters, you can feel the effect of low oxygen level. Each step in the walk takes some effort and some panting.
7: Mauna Kea again. You can just make out me walking towards the trig at the summit.
8: The trig marking the summit.
9: Beautiful view from the summit !!!!!
10: Another view.
11: One more view from the summit - the white blot in the centre of this picture is a telescope.
A 360 panoramic view from the summit is in: