Big Island: Mauna Kea in Hawaii Blew us Away

By Josh Blakley

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Me on the hill at sunset. Shot by Taylor

Hawaii is a dream vacation for anybody. I bet it’s still even a dream staycation for the people who live there. Going to the big island one time pretty much made me want to move there. IT’S SO AWESOME! I didn’t end up moving there. Maybe one day.

Taylor, my mom, and I went to the big island back in December for a Christmas/ birthday present to our selves for about a week. Let me tell you, you can do a lot of stuff in a week! We like to think that traveling instead of buying things for each other is a little more memorable and special. So that’s what we did.

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The Sheep Factory.

Before going to the Big Island I asked my Facebook friends if they had any suggestions for us. During this Facebook time I decided to go creep on some people. I had a Facebook friend that lived in Hawaii. I checked out his friends and found/messaged a person named Samantha. Check out her adventures here! Holy crap, she was SO nice and gave us so many suggestions the whole time we were there. She would send videos, give suggestions, links..etc. She was a great help in our adventures! I was glad she didn’t call the police on me or something! Sometimes being a creeper pays off. I mean that in the best way it could be meant. Plus, now I have a new internet friend.

I also did some research on activities that wouldn’t break the bank. I basically would google “hiking in Hawaii” or “best things to do in Hawaii”. My mom didn’t mind breaking the bank as much as Taylor and I did.

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Photo of Mauna Loa “peaking” out of the clouds.

My mom ended up booking us all a tour to go up to Mauna Kea. You can drive to the top but you need a 4×4. We thought we were going on a tropical vacation but you know we just couldn’t get away from the snow.

We all met up at the tour place and awaited the tour guide while looking at some of the cool backpacking merch. The tour guide explained the trip overview to use and off we went. We all hopped on the bus with the other tourists. The drive was about two hours until we’d reach the peak of Mauna Kea where we were excited to see the stars in the world’s biggest astronomical observatory. But before we get to the fun part we get to hear many great Hawaiian stories and learn about the geography of the land the lava has formed in Hawaii. The driver and assistant made sure to get to know everyone’s name, where they were from and one cool thing they’ve done so far while being on the island. What a nice couple of people! They even remembered most of our names.

After a while we got to see the state birds in action, which is a type of goose. It looks like a Canadian goose kind of but, way cooler. I guess everything in Hawaii is cooler, Darn it. Another reason to become a snow bird. I am only kidding, I love North Idaho! Before pulling into Mauna Kea we ate some lunch at an old sheep farm of sorts. I snapped a few rustic shots there.

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There was a cool bee hive in here. You could say this place was the beez-neez.
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Inside the barn above. Also the beez-neez.

After all this we didn’t even get to make up to the top. I know, this is the worst punchline ever. We didn’t make it up because of 90 mph winds and a snow storm, Seems like Mt Adams again. Will I ever get to the top of a freakin’ mountain? Come on man.

We only made it to the visitors center at 9,000 feet. To get to the observatory would have been another, roughly 5,000 feet bringing us upwards to 14,000 feet. Mind I say this is in Hawaii. HAWAII, PEOPLE! Even though we didn’t make it to the top of Mauna Kea we still got to enjoy a nice sunset above the clouds after hiking up a little hill. When we were on top of the hill we were feeling that elevation.

Not sure if getting blown over or just dizzy.

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Taylor enjoying the views above the clouds.

Gaining 9,000 feet of elevation in just about an hour will definitely effect you a little. After sunset it was time to roll out on the magic school shuttle but not before drinking a nice cup of hot cocoa and a slice of brownie that I couldn’t even eat, darn it. Taylor made up for me though.

Fun Fact: The summit of Mount Everest is higher above sea level than the summit of any other mountain, but Mauna Kea is the tallest when measured from base to summit. (Yes, I did google that too. I’m just a googlin’ fool.)
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View of the Mauna Kea visitors center located at 9,000 feet elevation.

Come back for part two for our adventures where we explore a valley that’s been washed out by many tsunami’s, was the home of a king, and people live almost purely off the land.

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