(time stamps below)
What a grand day! I executed a day hike (nearly 13 miles) to/from the summit of Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on our planet. I spent the day discerning between “You can’t do this,” and “You shouldn’t do this.” Sometimes you just need to get outside, to go within.
I began the journey long before dawn, starting from home at 1,000ft above sea level, in order to provide adequate acclimation time for the climb to 13,677ft/4,169m. I stopped at Mauna Kea State Recreation Area, at 6,500 feet, to begin acclimating. Then I poked along to Mauna Loa Observatory Road—turn is beside Pu’u Huluhulu. Then at about 9,000ft, I stopped to acclimate more. I then proceeded to the weather station. My foot hit the trail about 7:30am. I will remember this day, forever.
This video contains images and footage of my hike: from acclimating with the dawn to sharing a meal with the summit. I hope this video may help give anyone interested an idea of the terrain, but be aware, the conditions can be unexpected. These images and footage may offer a sample of the wonder and beauty, but they merely suggest the awe within which I remain enraptured. I will refer to this video, myself, as a chronicle of the day, for my inner smile’s benefit; if it helps anyone else to prepare for the same hike, or to experience it vicariously, then I’m grateful.
🛑 I made the mistake of losing track of time at the summit, and was faced with making my way down the slope in the dark. (I had a head lamp, but I don’t recommend doing any of this trek in the dark!) Though it was beautiful with a sky so full of stars, it’s not advisable.
*Source cited: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mauna_loa/
“The enormous volcano covers half of the Island of Hawai‘i and by itself amounts to about 85 percent of the area of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined.”
To stay in the summit cabin: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/hike_maunaloa.htm
Mauna Kea Recreation Area: https://hawaiicounty.ehawaii.gov/camping/all,details,57934.html
Fun fact: Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Wekiu bug relies on a diet of insects blown up to elevation.
1:21 Acclimating at 9000’
2:27 Arriving at the MLO, at the end of the road
3:01 On the jeep trail from the MLO to the foot trail head
3:45 Starting on the foot trail
6:27 Arriving at the first large ahu markers, denoting wind shelters, large collapsed lava tube
6:57 A survey benchmark near a large splatter cone
8:20 The trail takes a sharp turn to the left/east (sign marks it)
8:29 Entering service road for a bit
9:45 Depart service road, back onto foot path—one that’s smoother
11:07 Back onto pahoehoe lava flow
11:53 North Pit rim in sight, with large ahu
11:55 Jaggar’s “Cave”
12:45 The path forks to the summit cabin on the east side of the rim (and to the longer southern route up Mauna Loa), to the summit on the west side, and the Observatory Path back down the way we came.
13:56 Jumping over a large fissure/crevasse (I think from the 1940s flow)
15:30 Note on not disturbing HVO science stations
16:03 At a great overlook
18:05 Continuing onto the true summit
18:19 At the summit ahu/cairn
18:52 Summit survey benchmark
20:51 Makeshift pit toilet seen, back near the North Pit, where the paths first forked
20:58 Racing the sun
–Mauna Loa contains two isolated ice caves.
–The Mars habitat simulation is on the slope of Mauna Loa (don’t attempt to visit location)
Music used, all from the YouTube library:
1. “Morning Mandolin,” by Chris Haugen
2. “Moultrie’s Madness,” by The 126ers
3. “Flickering,” by VYEN
4. “Beth,” by VYEN
5. “Slowly Until We Get There,” by Joey Pecoraro
6. “The Rising,” by Aakash Gandhi
7. “Surrender,” by Dan Lebowitz
8. “Immortality,” by Aakash Gandhi