Friday, February 5, 2010

Escape from the Northwest: Mauna Kea Sunset

This is my second “postcard” from my winter trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i.

With the wind chill hovering around freezing, I’m bundled up in five layers of clothing I packed for this tropical getaway. I’m still cold.

We’ve driven through a stark volcanic landscape up to 9,300 feet on Mauna Kea to the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy and hope to hitch a ride to the summit for the sunset. The road up to the 13,796-feet-high peak is too steep and rough for our wimpy rental sedan. No luck tonight, though, as all the tour vans are full up.

So instead we hike up to a rise at about 9,500 feet, along with several others, and watch the still awesome sunset against the backdrop of Hualalai, one of the Big Island’s five volcanoes.

At first the clouds above and below us on the horizon start to turn orange and gold.

Then the drama heightens as the sun slips toward the horizon.

Even though my hands are really cold, I can’t resist snapping multiple photos as the clouds take on a fiery hue.

Over to our left, Mauna Loa bears a layer of clouds reflected pink from the sunset.

And the vivid display continues until the sun falls lower and the show winds down.

In this relatively remote location without light pollution from any major metropolitan areas, Mauna Kea is home to several of the most powerful observatory telescopes in the world. After the sunset, multiple telescopes are set up at the Onizuka Center for some stargazing. But, alas, tonight a thick layer of clouds above obscure the heavens.

It's still a worthwhile adventure.



Lisa said...

Hey Jill,
You've been posting a lot on your blog! I love that you are including more photos. Your photography is great and are a nice compliment to your well chosen words. You remind me that I need to carry my camera with me and take more pictures of food!

Don said...

Aloha Prances with Whales(aka Jillwin):

Sounds like you are having a fine time there with sightseeing and the grub. Good healthy food like Mango Smoothies.

Ellen said...

Thanks, Jill, that made a lovely break! Your blog is fun to read.

Anonymous said...

LIsa - yes, people love pictures of food! Especially Italian food! Thanks for you comment.

Don - I love your gift for silly nicknames!

Hey Ellen, glad you had a fun break with the blog.

cheers all! jill

prancingpretzel said...

Jill I stumbled upon your blog by chance, I was looking for places in the NorthWest in this temperate weather for long hikes by the sea and a week long break with my husband and sister! I found so much more than I was looking for, your blog is a gem!

Thanks for sharing your unique lens to the abundant beauty of our world!

jill said...

Wow Sirmique,
Thanks for your kind and flattering comment! I'll have to check out your blog as well!

Hope you have a good week beach walking - Ebey's Landing is perfect although not sure it would fill up a week.


jill said...

Thank you so much for the awesome and flattering comment! I tried to find your blog but not sure how based on your profile. Anyway, hope you have a good week of beach walking - Ebey's Landing on Whidbey would be perfect but just a couple hours walk. Actually Whidbey might be nice - there's also Deception Pass state park and beaches up there - love Bowman Bay, take your kayaks if you go there!