The Magic of Mauna Kea

On Friday, Stacy and I had plans to go up Mauna Kea.  We had invited Rhinehart to join us as well… partially because we wanted to hang out with him and thought he would enjoy it, and also partially so he could drive the vehicle for us.  We spent the day casually hanging out at the house, until around 3 PM.  Rhinehart met us then, and we all hopped into the Jeep we had rented for this trip.

We made our way up to the Visitor Information Center at the 9000-ft level.  Here we stopped to acclimatize for a half hour or so, and also to check out the gift shop and a short informational video.  We then ate the pea soup we had brought up with us, and all tried a bit of Rhinehart’s dehydrated spaghetti.  Weird.

The Visitor Center
Our makeshift table

Eventually it was time to head up to the summit.  We all hopped into the vehicle to drive up.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve thought about it many times.  The Hawaiian night sky is absolutely beautiful, even just from Waikoloa.  The stars are brighter than I’m used to, and probably brighter than almost anywhere on the planet.  The Hawaiian Islands in fact have restrictions on street lamps and many other types of lighting in order to keep light pollution down and preserve the Hawaiian night sky at its best.  This sky and the brightness of the stars is definitely something I will miss when I head back to Canada.

Because of how clear the sky is, Mauna Kea is home to a lot of expensive space observation equipment.  The facilities on the summit of Mauna Kea are some of the best in the world.  Now, if you have been following my blog, you might know that Mauna Kea is also an active volcano.  Interesting that they chose to put all this fancy equipment on top of an active volcano…

It took about a half hour on a bit of a sketchy road to make it to the top.  Stacy says that this is the only road in Hawaii that she gets scared on.  I could see why, though for some reason I didn’t feel the same fear she did.  At the top, we parked the car and hopped out.  We all decided that many movies set on the moon or Mars could easily have been filmed on top of Mauna Kea.

Snow! In Hawaii!

We wandered around a little bit, but found that we all got lightheaded extremely quickly so tried not to exert ourselves too much.  We did end up doing a very short hike to the true summit.  We took it very slowly but still felt a little lightheaded.   I can’t imagine actually climbing mountains like Everest and exerting yourself like that on a daily basis.  Up on the very top, there were a bunch of offerings for the Hawaiian gods.  It was an amazing spot for something like that.

Short hike!

For those of you who have been following my blog, and wondering about the mysterious Rhinehart… this is him.

After taking a few more pictures, we hiked back down to the Jeep and watched the sunset from there.

Before long, it was dark.  We got back into the vehicle and went back down to the Visitor Centre to do a little stargazing.  We watched a short video about Mauna Kea’s observatories, and looked through a few telescopes.  It was a pretty neat experience to gaze at the moon and be able to see its craters, or to see all four of Jupiter’s moons.

Eventually it was time to head home and pick up the kids.  Despite the fact that our adventure wasn’t overly strenuous or long, we all felt exhausted afterwards.  We spent the rest of the evening watching Country Strong, and Stacy and I even convinced Rhinehart to join us for that.

My favourite thing about today was seeing the Hawaiian night sky from an even more beautiful vantage point.

Love KG

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