Sunday, March 7, 2010

Above the clouds

One of the coolest things about being on top of a mountain is looking down. Usually, we hike up mountains. We went to the top of Mouna Kea via four-wheel drive. First we drove to 9,000 feet to in attempt to acclimate. We stayed at 9,000 for about an hour, then drove on up To the Subaru National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Dug's friend Eric works for Subaru and he was our tour guide. We were fortunate to be able to tour the observatory with Eric.
Patch on the sleeve of the coats we wore while inside the facility.
Looking down on 9,000 feet.
Some of our group. Casey, me, dug, Eric, Haley & Nick.
As part of our acclimation, we took this short hike.
Subaru Observatory
"All systems are go!"
Above the clouds
Dug & me.
Looking up
At the true summit with the benchmark. 13,796 ft.
Hawai'ian memorial site
Eric told us that Hawi'ians will hike up to the summit and hold ceremonial memorial services.

Looking back up the summit. It was a tough hike. Driving to the summit and then hiking a short distance made my chest feel as an elephant was sitting on it. It was tough to get my breath.
just before sunset the jaws opened
ready to look to the heavens
the sun begins to set
Looking out over Mona Loa from Mauna Kea

We stayed on the summit to watch the sunset. The summit of Mauna Kea is the only place on the big island that you could freeze to death. We knew it would be cold and we were bundled up, but still extremely cold. My hands were so cold I could hardly hold my camera. There were a lot of people who were on the summit to watch the sunset. I observed one woman who laid her bathing suit out on top of their jeep to dry. Later, I saw her pick it up and wave it as if it were a flag. It was frozen stiff.
As the sun finally fell below the horizon, everyone cheered and applauded. After the sun set we drove down to 9,000 feet where we first had soup and cocoa. The we attended a facinating educational star program. I was mezmerized. Everyone else was ready to go earlier than I was. Basically, they had to pull me away. It was bizarre to be in Hawai'i and to run to the car and shiver together as Eric turned the heat on. I urged him to take us quickly down the mountain back to the warmth where we might roll down the windows of the car.
Every time I fly, I thrill at looking out the window, out over the clouds. But, to stand on a mountain and look out over the clouds is thrilling.


Chatty Crone said...

I had no idea this was there.

Awesome - the sunset was incredible! sandie

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Wow, those photos are incredible!
For me, the best thing about flying is looking down onto the clouds, as you said...but to BE up there looking down, and virtually in them...what an experience!
You've done the coolest things're going out shouting, and having turned over every stone possible. Way to live girl!

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