|Today we decided to drive up Mauna Kea. This is a big deal. Mauna Kea is 13,796 feet tall. That's 2.6 miles up.
Where I come from in Massachusetts, we see a lot of cars with bumper stickers bragging that "This car drove up Mt.
Washington", which is 6288 feet (a mere 1.2 miles) high. My brother, by the way, RUNS up it. Mauna Kea beats out
Mauna Loa, at 13,680 feet, by only 116 feet. Mauna Kea, measured from its base at the bottom of the ocean is 33,476
feet tall, the tallest mountain in the world. Combined, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa make up 73% of the Big Island.
Another very noteable aspect of Mauna Kea are the observatories on top. These are some of the very best telescopes
in the whole world. The reason they put them there is because there is not another spot on earth where the air is any
cleaner or clearer. This is air that is clean as it comes down from Alaska and becomes cleaner as it travels thousands
of miles over nothing but ocean. Another advantage of placing the observatories on top of Mauna Kea is the fact that
there is no light pollution. As a matter of fact, there are regulations as to what kind of light cities on the Big Island are
allowed to use for street lights and such because of this issue.
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE
|So we drove from Hawaiian Paradise Inn, where we were still staying, up through Hilo and took the Saddle Road up to
the turn to the Mauna Kea road. We stopped at the information station and gift shop (of course) at an elevation of
roughly 9200 feet (1.74 mi.). There, as usual, I took pictures of the signs. We had to wait before we could go up further
because the road wasn't open and, besides, it was recommended that we spend an hour or so to acclimate to the
altitude. Finally, the word came down that we could proceed. So we proceeded!
|Lookit the clouds!
|10,000 feet, almost 2 miles!
|12,000 feet, 2.3 miles
|13,000 feet, 2.5 miles
|Welcome to Hawaii!
|Thursday, March 30
|Looking back at the information station
and gift shop
|Just think, the people down below are
experiencing a solid overcast
|It's starting to get cold out! And the
wind's blowing like crazy!
|No, that's not a redneck with a shotgun! The
holes are so the wind will blow through and
won't knock the sign over
|The retaining wall on the left is to help
prevent avalanches from coverning the road.
|sight distance wasn't enough to see the big