The Honeymoon - Hawaii (The Big Island)

Mauna Kea Sunset

On our first full day on the Big Island, we went on one of the most spectacular trips of our honeymoon. The suprising part was that the trip was not mentioned in any of our guidebooks. I found it by accident. I knew The Big Island had tall volcanoes and was hoping to summit of one of them during our trip. I found that the tallest was Mauna Kea at 13,796 feet. There was a road that went up to the top, but rental car companies wouldn't allow their cars to go on it due to rough conditions and high altitude. Our only available option was to take a guided tour.

We started our tour in the afternoon with Arnott's Lodge. We drove along the Saddle Road from Hilo to the center of the island. From there we headed north along the steep road which ascended Mauna Kea. At 9,300 feet we stopped at the Onizuka visiters center to aclimatize. At this altitude we had just risen above the clouds and could see the massive Mauna Loa in the distance. With its gradually sloping sides, it looked more like a hill than a 13,000 foot volcano. Measured from the bottom of the sea, it is 56,000 feet high and dwarfs Mt. Rainier in both width and elevation. Though not as massive, Mauna Kea is slightly higher and can be considered the highest mountain in the world, from base to summit.

After an hour of acclimatizing, we headed up the final 4,000 feet to the summit of Mauna Kea. The summit was a very surreal area. Not only were we high above the cloud cover, but we were also surrounded by eleven huge observatories operated by various institutions and countries. Also in the winter the area accumulates snow and people actually hike up to go skiing in Hawaii!

From our parking spot, I hiked up the last 50 feet to the summit. The air was noticably thin reminding me of my climb up Rainier. At the summit I found a sacred platform used by the native Hawaiians. Due to her foot and the thin air, Jamie waited for me closer to the van and the observatories. The breathtaking sunset had begun and I soon rejoined Jamie to watch the sun dip below the horizon.

Cinder cones off of the Saddle Road

Rare Silver Sword

The truly massive Mauna Loa

University of Hawaii, Gemini and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescopes

Gemini Telescope

Me at the summit of Mauna Kea (arms held up)

Religious Platform at Summit

Lava at Night <- Big Island Adventures -> Mauna Kea Sunset - Page 2
Wedding -> Honeymoon -> The Big Island

September 19, 2001