Gone Floatabout

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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: https://outdoors.katadyn.com/blog/hiking-mauna-kea-with-ellen-and-seth

Mauna Loa at sunset

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