Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

Hiking Mauna Loa



Mauna Loa lava flows

Mauna Loa’s lava flows clearly visible

Mauna Loa, one of the two 4000-meter peaks on the island of Hawai’i, is the largest volcano on earth, as measured by volume. It’s still active: the last flow, in 1984, came within 4 miles of the town of Hilo. Raw black lava flows mark its flanks, and sometimes you can see it smoking.

Up in the thin, dry air on Mauna Loa is a wilderness of brittle lava rock, an immense caldera, and harsh tropical sun. The temperatures are cold – it snows – and the wind howls, but the sun remains at its brutal tropical angle. Sounds like a fantastic hike, right?

Hiking up Mauna Loa

Can you find me amidst all the lava? Hiking up the first section of the trail, Maui in the far background.

You can’t not do it, though: a 4000-meter peak that’s not a technical climb is pretty much impossible for hikers like us to pass up. So Seth and I summited Mauna Loa last September. After many months aboard CELESTE at sea level, it was quite the challenge….

I wrote up the story of our hike for our sponsor Katadyn on their blog. You can read it here.

Mauna Loa at sunset

Mauna Loa seen at sunset from Mauna Kea (yes, that’s snow in the foreground. Aloha!)

Author: Ellen

sailor, writer, photographer

8 thoughts on “Hiking Mauna Loa

  1. Great pictures and quite an accomplishment to climb to the top !! Is there a trail ?


    • Thanks! There’s a trail of sorts… there are cairns built on the lava showing the way to the summit, but it’s not really a built trail the way you’d find in, say, the Sierras.

      Sorry for the late reply – hard to get good enough internet while sailing!

  2. Found you amidst lava❣️ Jeanie

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Beautiful photos! I think it would be fun and exciting to hike something that I see as unusual! I have not been to Hawaii yet but someday!

    • Thank you! It was definitely a completely different hiking experience from the temperate climates we’d been used to. So glad you enjoyed the post – sorry for the late reply – been off traveling!

  4. What an amazing place to explore and photograph – the landscape looks unreal! Thanks for sharing

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