Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mauna Kea - The Highpoint of Hawai‘i

Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawai‘i
November 20, 2007

My first state highpoint was an actual mountain summit. However, I have to put an asterisk next to it since I did not do any climbing and by choice I decided not to venture the last two hundred yards or so to the top. Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai‘i is the highest natural elevation in the state of Hawai‘i at 13,796 feet above mean sea level. Unlike most other state highpoints, you can actually view mean sea level below you and can start your journey at tide level at the sea’s edge. I started my journey on a beach near Kailua Kona and then drove to the tour operator that would take us to the top of Mauna Kea.

View to the north from near the summit
By van and well-maintained roads, we chugged our way upwards to the Mauna Kea Observatories which lie just below the summit. As soon as I stepped out of the van, the summit of Mauna Kea was only a couple of hundred yards away. And except for the easy ascent, it was a mountain peak as I envision it. All rock with no vegetation, an expansive view downwards at all things even the clouds, a numbing cold not reminiscent of the tropics down below, and an awareness that you are on top of the world. Our tour operator counseled us that Mauna a Wākea is a sacred place for native Hawaiians and asked us not to ascend summit in respect. The mountain is Wākea, the Sky Father of the Hawaiian people, and is home to four dieties: Poli‘ahu, the ice and snow goddess; Lilinoe, the goddess of fine mist; Waiau, the goddess of the lake which bears her name; and Kahoupokane, the goddess of the Hualalai volcano. As no one else from my group was venturing to the summit, I paid my respects to Wākea by gazing at the summit from afar. I was comfortable in my recognition that I could conquer that summit if I so desired. I was less than a quarter mile by trail from the top.

For the purposes of checking off a list or collecting a highpoint, I considered this peak bagged.

The summit of Mauna Kea

No comments:

Post a Comment