Training for Mauna Loa with a 4 mile RT hike up the trail to Mauna Kea, 

by Jennifer

The highest point in Hawaii is Mauna Kea, the other large volcano that makes up Big Island, along with largest active volcano in the world, Mauna Loa.

As we needed to head north along Saddler Road to reach our next accommodation at the Kona Marriott, from our Airbnb on Keaau, we decide to get more training for our upcoming hike with a hike up Mauna Kea, that is along our route.

15 minutes into the hike and we begin already above some clouds on Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea goes from 9,300 feet to 12,000 feet, about as high as I went up Mount Fuji in Japan with Sandy this August. That hike kicked my ass, but this time I will be prepared with a few days hiking at Volcano National Park at 4,000 feet, a hike on Mauna Kea going from 9,300 to 12,000 feet, a full night’s rest in a nice accommodation, and altitude pills and aspirin. The hike up Mauna Loa will take us to 13,500 feet and be much longer, 6 miles up from the observatory parking lot.

Starting point – Parking Lot at the Mauna Kea Information Station


  • In your GPS put the following coordinates for the Visitor Information center:
  • You can park in one of about 20 spots till 3p (3-10p the parking lot is reserved for stargazing).
  • You can drive higher up, but only if you have a car with four wheel drive. The road further up is made of sand that a regular car may get stuck in.

“Beware of Invisible Cows.”

  • It’s 55 degrees here at the Information Center on this sunny April 3rd, 2017 day. At 9,300 feet, it is pretty warm with a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and light Northface shell jacket. I shed a layer to my sweatshirt when we start walking.

Preparation

Starting up Mauna Kea with more layers than necessary.

  • Sunblock all over any revealed skin. SPF 50. At a higher altitude there’s less ozone to protect you.
  • Popped an Altitude pill (recommended to take 2 pills in the morning, 2 pills in the evening)

Breakfast

  • Mike ate an apple pie for breakfast.
  • I ate 7 small rainbow papayas (I’m Raw Till 4 Vegan) and drank a little coffee with soy milk

Food packed 

  • Mike has a Clif Bar and 5 hour energy knockoff drink with Ephedra (he was excited to find this because during his personal training days he used to take Ephedra pills to extend his high intensity workouts)
  • I have 2.5 cups of overnights oats, soaked in cinnamon, soy protein powder, and cinnamon, and soy milk + 2 small papayas + 3 multiberry  bagels (that I will force Mike to eat with he runs out of food and steam)

First 30 minutes 

Is really fun! You are very aware of the difference of the high altitude on your body. It’s hard to lift one’s feet up the initial incline. We quickly climb to 9,700 feet in 15 minutes….

Mike keeps us informed as to our pace, elevation, and distance.

However, you soon adjust to the elevation and we kept at a steady 2 -2.5 mile per hour clip as we walked up Mauna Kea.

The road is traversed by cars making it not too challenging to walk up.

4.2 miles and 11,200 feet up

We decide to call it quits and save our energy for tomorrow on Mauna Loa.

We feel really good. No headache. Certainly tired, but not bent out of shape. It gives us confidence that tomorrow we will conquer Mauna Loa and not fall I’ll on our way up.

More to come tomorrow on the Big hike!

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