US Trip 2018 – Day 6 – On top of Hawaii

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The route this day took us around the coast near Kona, before we hopped on a bus that took us to the top of Hawaii – Mauna Kea. A day where we got to see how diverse this island really is.

Approximate time on road/out caching:  15 hours, 35 minutes
Total miles driven: 62.6 mi / 100,75 km
Total cahes found: 14
Total DNF: 1
States visited: Hawaii
Famous places visited: The summit of Mauna Kea
Most memorable cache: GC3D6D Pahupa’iki’i Maka
Biggest surprise: The amazing sunset
Weather: Sun, overcast, rain
Highest temperature: 35°C / 95°F
Lowest temperature: 22,8°C / 73°F (down towards freezing on Mauna Kea, but we didn’t have anything to measure with there)

Fixing an old DNF

We got an early start, so when we noticed new found logs, we decided to revenge the DNF on GC2M0AG Tubular Dude!. And this time it went a lot smoother! We took the easy way to GZ this time, and found the cache almost right away – exactly where we had expected it to be the last time.

Too early for tourists

We arrived at Waikoloa Beach earlier than most, I guess. Because almost everything was closed… We found one open place, and at least got some breakfast. Then we continued to GC6A00R Anchialine Ponds.

One of many great things about caching early (or very late), is the low amount of muggles. So we managed to find both the earthcache and two nearby traditionals without any muggle issues. But then, on our way out of the parking lot, we had a costly muggle encounter.

Two muggles were blocking the exit gate, because there was something wrong with their parking ticket. After a lot of back and forth, they got to exit for free. Us, we were now one minute past the hour, and had to pay $5 extra because of those muggles…

Almost got stuck

After a quick stop at a rest stop with great views, the next on the plan was GC7B81R Kaloko Pond. The road out there wasn’t the best we’ve seen, and our car wasn’t either. So when it got so bad that the chance of getting stuck got too high, we decided to reverse back to the pullout halfway there. We completed the journey on foot, and got the information we needed.

The harbor

Next on the plan was a short visit to the Honokõhau harbor, to find the caches there, and hopefully see some turtles. We did not see any turtles, but we did find the three caches 😀

Large really means large

We found a nice parking spot in downtown Kailua-Kona, and the goal was to find the three caches there. But when we noticed the Scandinavian Shave-Ice store, we just had to take a quick stop there. I don’t know why, but we ordered the large size… Wow, that was large!

First webcam of the day

After finishing (most of) the shave-ice, we continued to do the earthcache and eventually the webcam. Second webcam on the island, but the first today.

While standing there, a group (family?) of other geocachers walked by. But they did not stop to do the webcam :O

We also attempted GC1M47J Rock and Roll, and even got help from the security guard, but eventually just had to give up.

The journey to the top

Mauna Kea has been on my list for a long time, it was also one of the main reasons we chose this island as our destination. It’s not everyday you get to go to the top of the world’s tallest mountain! Yes, from bottom (ocean floor) to the top, Mauna Kea is the tallest in the world – more than 10 kilometers tall.

It was now time to head to the meeting point (with a quick stop along the way), to board the minibus that would take us to Mauna Kea. Not much leg room in the bus, but the driver/guide was awesome! He even gave us the answers to some of the earthcaches (without knowing it).

They served us food (and cake) when we stopped to acclimatize at the visitor information station. At 9200ft (2800m) we could already feel the altitude, so we didn’t even try to find the closest cache there.

Amazing sunset

The last bit was steep, very steep. And we could feel the altitude more and more as we got closer to the top. Starting on sea level, then going up to 13 796ft (4205m) is not easy. But wow, it was worth it!

We made sure to do the webcam right away, while we still had some daylight. We got help from platoaddict to grab the pictures we needed, and even had plenty of time left to attempt the earthcache there as well (thanks for the tip, platoaddict! We would not have noticed that earthcache ourselves).

We got really lucky with the weather, and got to see a really amazing sunset. It was strange standing on Hawaii and feel the temperature drop to almost freezing. But the tour company took good care of us, and provided warm parkas.

This is taken with a phone!

After the sun had left the horizon, it got dark. Very dark. So we started the journey back down. The next stop was the stargazing, which we hadn’t thought too much about – it was the summit we came here for.

But wow, this alone would have been worth the trip! The weather was perfect, and they set up two big telescopes that we could look through. They aimed it at various stars and planets, and we got to see several of them! The most amazing was viewing the rings of Saturn, and the surface of the moon! It’s hard to believe, but the photo below is taken with my phone!

The long way back

After the stargazing (which included hot chocolate), it was time to head back down. It was hard not to fall asleep, and I honestly can’t tell if I did or not. But they brought us safely back down to the parking lot, where our car waited for us. If you’re ever going to the Big Island, make sure to check out Mauna Kea Summit Adventures! Awesome people, and an experience you won’t forget!

We didn’t do any more caching this day, just straight to the cabin to get some sleep – after a long but very interesting day!


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