Altitude with Attitude – Ascending Mauna Kea

Wednesday May 14th, 2014 – Hawaii Island, United States of America

On Top of the World

Well, my ‘me’ day didn’t reeeeeally go as planned. I woke at 6am to the sound of rain bucketing down (something I normally love, but not in the tropics!), and it was still going at 8, so I flagged the outdoor yoga and slept in until 9.30am. The rain had stopped by the time I got up, so I went and had some brekkie, booked in my massage for 1pm, and went and lay on a lovely wee lounger looking out to the ocean (see photo), while Craig had a ukelele lesson. There is the option of renting a gorgeous comfy cabana, but the cheeky buggers charge $75 USD per day (this is where Hawaii has no chance compared with the likes of Thailand). Although it was rather overcast, it was lovely and I managed to chew through a decent amount of my book.

The massage was lovely too – I went for a 50 min Lomi Lomi, which is the Hawaiian equivalent of the Swedish massage. Afterwards I was taken into the Salt Room to relax. I had never been in a salt room before – what it basically is, is a room with the walls covered in big Himalayan salt crystals and the air is filled with tiny particles of the salt, which you breathe in and it is believed to help with sinus/respiratory issues.

After all the relaxing, Craig and I set off for Mauna Kea (which is supposedly the highest mountain on earth when measured from the sea floor). It took us 2 1/2 hours to get to the first stop including two small detours to get food and fuel. You have to stop at the Visitor Information Station at 9000ft to acclimatise before heading up to the summit to watch the sunset. I must say, when we got to the summit (about 14,000ft) it was a weird feeling – kind of heavy and harder to breathe. It is sooo beautiful up there… really hard to describe and the photos just don’t do it justice at all. It has some of the world’s most important observatories, so we had the pleasure of watching those open too. At 7.30pm a man, who I assume works for the observatory, told us we would need to head down shortly, as there can’t be any light pollution when the telescopes start working. The only light on the whole mountain comes from headlights, so you have to be super careful driving back down (thank goodness for our jeep and it’s low range 4WD). We stopped in again at the VIS, as they do star gazing from 6-10 but sadly it was quite a foggy night so we couldn’t see much. We did get to see Mars, and Jupiter and its moons though… And the hot chocolate was great (it was freeezing at the summit – did I mention that Big Island has 11 out of the 13 climates on Earth?). I feel a bit guilty… I didn’t think about the flash on my camera being considered light pollution, and got told off for taking a photo (apparently it takes your eyes 15 mins to adjust).


I am back in my bed now and getting ready for an early start tomorrow to visit the Green Sand beach! Until tomorrow night! Xx

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