Double summit: Mauna Loa, largest mountain on Earth, and Mauna Kea, highest point on Hawai’i.
Hiking up yesterday took longer than we thought, so we did not reach the summit proper until this morning. Mauna Loa, largest mountain in world. Bigger than Everest! The volcano begins at the ocean bottom and rises to 13,679 feet (7,079 ft prominence). We traversed 5 miles around crater rim to reach the summit proper. Definitely worth the effort! By far one of the neatest accomplishments I have pursued. I was on top of the world, and felt like I was transported to Mars. What a crazy crazy terrain.
After reveling in the moment, we left the summit and hiked back down to vehicle parked at the observatory. We hiked 6.2 miles up 2,291 feet of gain to the summit cabin and 11.6 miles today (which still had 762 feet of gain, despite climbing down). Fortunately, I learned from the mistakes of Waimanu Valley and brought my phone battery to map our route!
On the return route we had better views of the more recent lava flows and a view over the Mauna Loa Observatory. Once back to the vehicle we drove back down the winding lava road, crossed the highway, then drove straight up the side of Mauna Kea.
Mauna Kea is the highest peak on Hawai’i (and the Big Island, obviously). We drove almost to that highest point. Mauna Kea is the location of 13 (soon to be 14) giant telescopes. So there is a paved road all the way to the top, except for an odd four miles right after the visitor center, which seems quite odd.
The true summit is 13,803 feet. Due to cultural and historical significances, we did not finish hiking to the summit. Others may violate that request, but I feel morally ok in claiming the Hawaii high point by standing just off from the true summit. Almost instantly after reaching the top we were enveloped in clouds. And while up there we drove to Keck Observatory but didn’t go in. So many telescopes!
It was barely after lunch and we had completed both volcano summits. Afterward we drove to Hilo and checked in at Arnott’s Lodge (seriously a hiker haven if I have ever experienced one!). There is camping in the plush lawn, enforced quiet hours at night, a large sitting area with tables and copious electrical outlets, and access to kitchen, laundry, showers with soap, coffee, and toilets. It was awesome!
Anyways, we showered and repacked the car. Then drove to bus stop to pick up Jack. The three of us went to store and then hung out at Arnott’s eating chips with guacamole and two soups mixed together and eaten like a dip. We drank beer, chatted, and went to bed.
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