Finally home after a month of wedding activities, honeymoon traveling, and work trip to Cancun. September 2015 has been the most fun, rewarding and exciting days of my life thus far. I’ve pushed myself to do things that I’m afraid of, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and my marriage. I couldn’t be happier with where I am, where I’m going, and who’s by my side.
Mauna Kea on the Big Island was the steepest trail I’ve ever hiked. They clearly have not discovered switchbacks, this route takes you right up the side of a towering volcano. My favorite part of the hike was any time that I turned around… because the clouds gathered below you around the waist of the mountain. It truly felt like you were in heaven, floating above the clouds. Or maybe that was the altitude sickness…
Either way, it was no cake walk. We had to stop every 5-10 minutes to give our hamstrings a rest and let our heartbeats slow down to slightly-below heart attack levels. It was all worth it though, just to say that we hiked the tallest mountain in the world! (Even if that’s only because it starts way wayyyy underwater) The actual elevation is 13,800 ft. It took us about 5 hours to summit. There is actually an access road that’s only supposed to be used by 4WD vehicles (although you see several little Kia’s and other rental cars up there).
For most of the honeymoon, we were planning on driving up there with the rental, even though every rental agreement on that island (except for one) specifically says you can’t drive to Mauna Kea summit. A few days before the hike, I made a case about why I wanted to hike up the mountain, which didn’t go over very smoothly. But he thought about it for a while and actually agreed that it would be lame to say that we drove to the top.
So when we got to the top, we were a little concerned on how long it would take us to get back down because the weather turns rough really quickly up there. It rains almost every day because clouds gather at the top of the volcano. All of the road signs have large holes cut in them because if they didn’t, the winds would literally bend them over. We were relieved to meet a friendly German couple with room in the back of their Jeep who were happy to give us a lift down.
The whole experience felt like it went so fast compared to hiking Mount Whitney (5hrs vs 22hrs so… the feeling was accurate!) I’m so glad that we hiked it instead of drove… especially after we saw the condition of the road on the way back down! I would warn against driving on that without 4WD… I saw it being done but I know I would have been a nervous reck on those crazy bumpy dirt roads with sharp turns.
It’s so rewarding to push yourself to do things like this, just to prove to yourself that you can do it. I can’t wait until we can come back and hike Mauna Loa (Long Mountain) which is the largest volcano in the world. Adventure is addicting.