Heading to Hawai’i!
This trip snuck up on me! But as I type I am flying over the giant Pacific Ocean to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. And I am learning how awesome Hawaiian Airlines is! I signed up for a promotional credit card, which normally I would not advise, but it resulted in a free roundtrip LAX-HNL flight. I couldn’t beat that deal! Plus I am in coach and find my seat very spacious (though I should also admit to enjoying the new Frontier frame seats too, if that shows how easily I fit into airplane seats), the flight attendants and pilot are super friendly, they have complimentary hot tea that doesn’t taste like scorched metal pot, they provide a complimentary tasty pau hana snack mix, and a complimentary meal. Yes, I repeat, a complimentary MEAL. And that meal came with a glass of red wine and a cookie, so I am in love.
Anyway, I am excited for this adventure! And best of all, I will be visiting two fantastic friends, Jack and Libby, in Honolulu for a couple days before heading to Big Island, or Hawai’i island, where my kick-ass sister will join me! It isn’t often that I decide to take on a big trip and get have company. I never let the lack of companions prevent me from exploring new places and doing the activities I love, but I would say there is merit in thinking that an adventure shared can bring richer memories when you have the chance to reflect back together in those shared experiences. Usually I hope to meet fascinating new friends along the way, but this time I will have both!
As some of you may know, I have decided to begin an ambition towards joining the 50 State’s Highpoints club. I have achieved a few of those peaks in the past, but plan to re-summit any that do not have photographic or GPS evidence. I began this past July, hiking up Mount Elbert in Colorado. While in Hawai’i, I will also summit Mauna Kea. I plan to start from the west coast and work my way east. Then I will hike the Appalachian Trail following graduate school, so that will cover a great deal of the eastern states. Plus, these singular trip ambitions will nicely fit into long weekend trips (perfect for my current life of research). I actually have an old trail book with a bunch of route beta, which is neat to work from! As always, I will include you on these journeys.
Mauna Kea is just the beginning of this Hawaiian adventure. There is so much ground to cover on these islands that I decided to focus on Hawai’i island for this trip with some side excursions on O’ahu island. Unfortunately I will have to return another time to explore the others.
The islands are made up of 8 main islands (Hawai’i, Maui, O’ahu, Kaho’olawe, Lāna’i, Moloka’i, Kaua’i, Ni’ihau) and numerous atolls, smaller islets, and seamounts. They range over 1,500 miles from Hawai’i island in the south to Kure Atoll (formerly Sandwich Islands) in the north. This island range formed as the Pacific Plate moved over a hotspot from Earth’s mantle. Time and exposure have enabled erosion to whittle down many of the islands to the northwestern end of the chain (Kure Atoll is ~28 million years old and Hawai’i is ~400,000 years old. So only the southernmost island, Hawai’i (i.e. Big Island), and the growing, but still submerged, volcano Lo’ihi are volcanically active. The majority of magma erupted is basaltic in composition. And Hawai’i is dominated by Hawaiian-type eruptions, or shield volcanoes, where the basaltic magma acts more like a fluid and flows out gently (versus magmas with higher water/volatile content which erupt more violently, like Mt. St. Helens, a steam-blast eruption.
Hawaiian language is also really neat. It is a Polynesian language with only 13 letters, 5 vowels and 8 consonants. Hawaiian and English are the official languages of the state of Hawaii, though very few people actually speak Hawaiian. There is also a Hawaiian Pidgin language spoken by many Hawaiian residents. It is an English-based creole that is used in everyday casual talk among residents. Some words to note for now:
Aloha = hello
Mahalo = thank you
Hawai’i (from Polynesian Hawaiki) = place of the gods
O’ahu = gathering place
And there are over 200 words for rain!
Libby scooped me up from the airport and we pretty much headed straight to sleep. It was going on 10PM in Honolulu, but near 1AM in Santa Barbara. I was tuckered out.