Tag Archives: Mauna Kea

White Christmas in Hawaii

Snow on Mauna Kea at Christmas 2022

Season’s greetings to everyone. As one would expect, we’re having a white Christmas here on the Big Island. The storm of last week dumped a generous amount of snow on top of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and much of it is still around. It’s a lovely sight, especially when viewed from somewhere where the temperature is in the 70s or low 80s!

Mauna Loa erupts

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

Yesterday, my morning commute was enlivened by the sight of Mauna Loa erupting. The eruption started late Sunday night and the report I read, before leaving home, said the eruption was currently confined to the summit crater. That clearly wasn’t the case when I took these photos on the way to work. The quality isn’t great because they’re hand-held, but I think they illustrate the scene reasonably well.

In the top two photos, the red smoke is the glow of the lava, but the white/yellow bits are the lava itself. This was a flow moving down the slope of the volcano.

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

By the time I got to work, the sky was lightening but the lava still stood out. In the bottom photo, Mauna Kea is left center, with a stunning sunrise developing behind it. Mauna Loa is on the right and the activity can clearly be seen on the left (northeast) slope of the volcano, some way down from the summit.

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

When I got home, I read that three vents had opened on the northeast rift zone of the volcano, though only one was still active. Flows from Mauna Loa can reach the ocean in a matter of hours, depending on where they’re coming from and going to. This flow is currently heading towards the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, which is mostly a military training area and undeveloped land. The main current danger is from gasses and Pele’s hair, thin strands of brittle volcanic glass, being carried from the volcano to communities downwind. However, new vents could open farther down the rift, bringing lava closer to human habitation.

Changes in eruptions on Mauna Loa can happen pretty quickly so, as usual, the advice here is be prepared and keep tuned to updates on the situation.

Scary head

A sculpture of a head seen from the coast path in front of Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii

When I was walking along the coast toward Hapuna Beach recently (post here) I came around one corner of the trail and saw this top photo. Luckily, it was broad daylight, because if it was dark, I would have screamed and run.

This head had a little friend, and the two of them reminded me of a British sci-fi horror movie from the 60s called Village of the Damned.

It was a peculiar scene, not just because of the subjects, but because these sculptures, along with a couple of others, are only visible from the trail. And they can’t be approached because there are some old Hawaiian ruins in this area. It’s like they’ve been banished into this twilight zone and they’re not happy about it!

Posted for Becky’s Squares theme of “Walking” (See more responses here).

A sculpture of two heads seen from the coast path in front of Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii

A good walk spoiled

The signature third hole at Mauna Kea Golf Course

There’s an old saying that golf is a good walk spoiled. It’s often attributed to Mark Twain, though that’s probably not accurate. There’s an interesting investigation into the saying’s roots here.

The Mauna Kea Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1964 and its signature hole is the third. From the championship tee, which is where the top photo was taken, this doesn’t look like a hole that has much to do with walking. Swimming looks a more likely activity.

There’s a little marker in this tee box that shows the hole is 272 yards long, but other tees offer shorter options. Next to the tee box is a plaque noting the illustrious golfers who played at the course’s opening. And the bottom photo shows the green that a golfer would use in the unlikely event that their ball reaches it.

I’ve spoken to a couple of people who’ve hit balls from the championship tee, mostly for the pleasure of being able to say they did so. Both hit their ball into the ocean. I’d probably do the same, though there’s also a good chance my shot from there wouldn’t even reach the water!

Posted for Becky’s Squares theme of “Walking” (See more responses here).

The green at the signature third hole at Mauna Kea Golf Course

A new route up Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a

A view of PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii
Williwilli flowers at PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii

Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a is a cinder cone on the slopes of Hualalai volcano. The name means “many-furrowed hill,” and it’s a place I like to walk at least once a year, but it had been a while since I was up there. Usually, I go there in the spring when Jacarandas and other flowers are blooming. I also try to go in the early morning, since the area tends to cloud up during the day and the wonderful views become obscured.

A couple of weeks ago I made a late decision to do the hike again since the weather looked unusually good. I got there around 2pm and it will come as no surprise that I spent the first 15 minutes of the hike taking photos of Williwilli flowers on a tree about 20 feet from where I parked! (More of those in a few days.)

Silk oak flowers at PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii

The trail follows an old road up the hill past Silk Oak trees, at the tail end of their flowering and sporting a deep red hue I hadn’t seen before. Turn around, and there are good views of Maui to be had. The old road peters out near an old blockhouse, now lacking doors and windows, which offers shelter to livestock on the ranch here. Off to one side is an old quarry, which cuts into the side of the hill. Usually there are goats in this area, but I didn’t see any on this day. Farther up is what’s left of Tamaki Corral, which dates back around 100 years.

Not far after the corral, the trail climbs steeply toward the top. This was where I found a change in the trail. Whereas before the trail was an out-and-back up a steep slope to the top, now a loop has been created. I took this new option to the top where, on this remarkably clear late afternoon, I had great views of Maui, Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai. A new sign at the top welcomes hikers to the nearly 4,000 foot summit, and there’s a survey marker at the top riddled with holes, not from gunfire, but to let the wind blow through. There are also a couple of benches where one can sit a while enjoying the views (weather permitting). The hike is steep in places, but not difficult, though not everyone makes it back alive!

I followed the old trail back down and ran into several sheep, which have the run of the land up here, as the sun dipped behind the ridge.

One other difference I noticed with this afternoon hike was the proliferation of birds. There were large numbers of finches, mostly Saffron Finches flitting about, preparing to roost for the evening. Yellow-fronted Canaries were all over the tree tobacco flowers. I also saw, and heard, several Erckel’s Francolins doing their usual fine job of blending in with the vegetation.

And as I walked back down the hill towards my car, the late afternoon sun still shone, illuminating grasses alongside the trail.

Grasses on PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii

Posted for Jo’s Monday Walk. See more walks here.