Thursday, November 05, 2009

On top of the World at Mauna Kea

Last weekend we made a journey to the summit of Mauna Kea- Hawaii's tallest mountain at 13,000 feet. (And 15th tallest in the world!)

It was truly bizarre to pack a parka and sweater into the car when the temperature at our house was a balmy 75 degrees. It was a long, bumpy ride to the top in our trusty Jeep Izzy, but three hours later, we stepped out of the car into thin, frigid 35 degree air. After even mild exertion, breathing required extra effort at that elevation.

Because of the height of the mountain and the relativly low population on the Big Island, it's an excellent place for astronomers to gaze at the night skies. The telescopes looked like fantastic aluminum space helmets shimmering in the evening light. I found myself thinking about the astronomers and wondering what their daily lives must be like. It would be inconceivable to live in such a still, quiet place and gaze at the wonders of the universe each night, and not have a profound awakening of the spirit.

We headed back down the mountain to the visitors center for a peak through some smaller telescopes and a bit of hot chocolate. Apparently, the appropriate thing to do is rest at the visitors center for an hour or so to acclimatize to the elevation. We woozily vowed to remember that for next time and checked another item off our long list of Hawaiian adventures.


Simply Sarah said...

How Beautiful!! It looks like you traveled to the moon! Thirty five degree nights are finding us here in the valley, those balmy seventy five degree days will be a distant memory in the near future.... jealous.... I thought not ;)
PS birthday package out TODAY!! Keep your eyes open!

Splendid Little Stars said...

Wow! I would love to see the stars at night from there! If I ever get to the big island, I will have to go the top of this mountain.

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