On Top of the World-Mauna Kea 03/2017

On Top of the World-Mauna Kea 03/2017

So last week after the major rain system came through. A friend and I decided to go up to the top of the worlds largest mountain to play in the snow. It only happens a couple times a year and some years doesn’t get any snow at all up there at all. So needless to say, being in Hawaii and in the snow is a truly special experience. So we met after work around 3pm last Saturday. We loaded the gang up in the car and headed out of Kona. We arrived at the visitor station about 5pm. Since we had couple kids under 16 I made a suggestion to wait about an hour or so to acclimate. We noticed that the wind was barley blowing and that was a really good thing. Because it is usually the wind chill factor up there makes it seem unbearable.
We left the visitor center and made our way to the top. One thing I noticed was that we were already above the clouds even before we arrived at the visitor center. Which a pretty cool thing to see the clouds below you as your driving. As we got to around 10,000ft we started seeing snow on the sides of the road. Most that was left was iced over but its was really cool site to see.
It had been at least 10 years since I had been up to the top. When I first moved to the islands about 20 years ago, we went up and snowboarded after a bunch of snow fell and that was truly amazing. I remember that on that day the snow was still semi-fresh and so it just like the real thing. We did bring the body boards to use as sleds this time though, and they worked great! It was little sketchy because of all the exposed rocks. I remember a few years ago someone lost there life by going to fast and landing on the rocks with a body board. It didn’t matter now becauce we were there and I was getting some sledding in! So after checking out the top by the big telescopes, we headed back down to were there was more snow.
We stopped at around 12,000ft for our sunset sledding adventure, and boy that it was! It was absolutely perfect weather. The wind was almost not even a factor at all, again is so rare for up there and that made it not so cold. So we got out the boards and I was the first Guinea pig to go for it. Since the snow was frozen over it was super iced and fast! The first spot I picked was ok but it was to short of a ride so we moved over to the middle of the bowl and then it got real! We were flying down at speeds at least 20 mph I’m sure! It was so much fun I forgot about how dizzy I was because of the lack of oxygen. A really cool couple came over with what looked like to the floor mat of there rental car as a sled. It actually worked pretty good and it was fun watching them both go together. On one of the last runs I told the kids to both go at the same time and they did. The problem was it was a pretty narrow path between rocks and you have to stay on course, and of course they didn’t. I had to hop out of the way as one of them went off coarse and came right at me! I bolted out of the way and he went right into and over the rocks! Luckily he stayed on and let the board absorb most of the damage. He was to excited at the time to even realize that he did get scratched up pretty good, but he was ok.
After the sun went down we got back in the car and headed back to the visitor’s center to reacclimatize for the way down. The parking lot was so full we got one of the last spots and didn’t attempt to fight our way through the crowd for hot chocolate. But that’s ok, we were just sitting

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on top of the world and we knew it!


Mike Fields