When you come to Hawaii you think warm sunny beach time right? Well yes that is primarily what we accomplished on the trip. But what about the enormous mountains all over the islands that you can hike up and experience? Or what about a dormant volcano that looms over the entire island? If you have the chance to take the climb, DO IT. The whole point of the trip for Cameron and I has been to gain new experiences and not have any expectations. After college everyone sets out to start making money and begin a routine with a end view in sight. Sometimes you have to climb and not know what view you are going to end up with. Well the same goes for my trip to Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world. Standing 14,207 m. above sea level the peak is the highest point in Hawaii. Cameron had ventured up Mauna Kea on his last trip to Hawaii. He told me it was one of the most beautiful sites he had seen with an unreal sunset. Naturally I was intrigued.
As a family we trekked up Mauna Kea to enjoy the views together. We had to travel 13,800 feet up. It is one of the only places you can start at sea level and rise that high in two hours. Once you get to the National Park you make your way up the road and stop at the visitor center. When you break at the visitors center they suggest you wait a little bit to get acclimated to the altitude change. You definitely feel the air change the higher you go. After a short pause halfway up the mountain we put on our warm clothing and prepared for the winding climb above the clouds.
They aren't kidding about the steep roads..
As you head up the mountain they caution you to have 4WD because lets just say its a tad bit rugged. Basically in addition to ear popping you have to go up a steep graded- gravel road for 12 miles. Just like life there are plenty of twists and turns and the occasional bump in the road. There were points that I was unsure how our car would even go up something that steep. 13,800 feet later and a few ear adjustments we made it to the top. And it was breathtaking....literally. Sitting on top of the mountain an hour out from sunset was probably one of the coolest spots I could ever be. Cameron and I walked around taking some pictures even though it was about 40 degrees. I couldn't grasp being on top of a mountain above the clouds. I felt like I should be flying in a plane looking out, except I wasn't. It was all right there and I was in the midst of it.
Twist, turns & clouds
We had about an hour to kill before the sun actually set. So we took some pictures and looked at the observatories. The coolest thing about Hawaii that is unique from the rest of the U.S. is that the stars are amazingly clear. When you are on top of Mauna Kea looking out you can see all the observatories that the scientists use to view the solar system. After some pre-sunset pictures we waited in the car for the sun to finally set. Each passing minute the sun, clouds and colors made a prettier and more incredible picture (be sure to view the gallery at the end of this post.)
One of the many observatories
I always half joke to Cameron that I live for sunsets. I probably told him 100 times throughout the trip that each sunset made me happy. I say half joke because in reality sunsets are at the top of my happiness list right behind dogs. A sunset closes out the day and is free to stop and enjoy but what is even more awesome is that no sunset is ever the same. The cloud arrangement and colors always appear different and what shapes them is the location they are in. I don't think we could have asked for a better location. Being above clouds to watch the sun sink down casting orange, blue and pink hues in the sky will forever be one of the most incredible sunsets I've seen.
With satisfied views and pictures we decided to head out and satisfy our stomachs.
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He likes pizza.