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Published: January 6th 2022
Because our hosts had warned of worsening ocean conditions, we decided to do one more snorkel in a recommended sheltered area. Evidently HI supreme court declared that no beaches could be private, so we duly approached the guard gate at a fancy resort up the road and asked for one of the 20 guest passes. Being there at 8 am we were #3. We met a man finishing his swim, however, who said that visibility and waves were both bad, even in this sheltered spot. So we turned around and went home, to grab our jackets and lunch to head off to one of the volcanoes: Mauna Kea. It was the clearest day ever, so we had great views even of Haleakala on Maui, and of course Mauna Kea, at over 14,000’, and Mauna Loa, taller than that. As the guidebook said, Mauna Loa doesn’t see as tall because it is so wide. We could see snow on the top of both, but considering this is winter, conditions weren’t bad. We stopped at the Visitors’ Center at 9000’ to do some birding, and we both felt a little dizzy when we first started walking, Actually it is not recommended to go
all the way to the summit if you are under 15, over 65, or with health issues. Unfortunately the road up was closed anyway – they said it was for road conditions, but we think because they were repairing a railing where a poor woman lost her brakes and a child was killed – just 2 days ago. Considering there were 8-9 people in the big pickup, it’s a wonder more weren’t killed.
We climbed a nearby cinder cone that was topped and backed by trees, to look for more birds, and did indeed pick up a new one, the “Japanese white-eye.” We met a very nice man, Tom, who advised us to climb the back route rather than the steeper front – when he saw my hiking sticks and ancient body no doubt. When we came down, David saw him again and thanked him, and asked about the informal encampment nearby, at the base of the road up to Mauna Kea: evidently Tom is one of the protestors who have been holding up the building of a huge telescope at the observatory – he’s lived for months at a time in his tent for the past 2 years.
Hina the dog found a coconut husk and insisted that David play toss.
We came back down to our 1000’ level and then decided to go birding once again at the end of the road nearby that rises into the forest. David found a “red-billed leiothrix.” Yes, aren’t you all thrilled!? I had to sit in the car to take a very short nap instead. He is so persistent and patient, and the photos are amazing.
Fighting our tiredness, we tried to go to a fish house for dinner but it was a 45 min wait, so Thai food sounded good again! Always enough for 2 meals anyway.
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