Watching creation

Day 4 of my Hawaii week and a throwback-Thursday photo from 2004 and my first look at a real live lava flow. I spent a couple of hours just watching the lava pour into the sea, the waves crashing into the new land and occasionally causing small explosions as the water instantly turned to steam on contact with the lava. A nice way to spend a Sunday 🙂 🌋

This was my second weekend of a two-week stint in Hawaii getting to know a bit about my new job working as a scientific programmer for the SCUBA-2 project. I’d been out to watch the lava the previous weekend but I didn’t see much in the fresh lava, just lots of steam so I was really happy to see it this time round.

It was mesmerizing. I found myself a comfy-ish spot on the old lava (right next to the barrier rope) and simply sat and watched, taking pictures now and again, and always hoping for more lava to break out. Eventually convinced that I wasn’t going to get anything better (after all, I had just a little Canon A80 compact camera) I wandered back along the trail to the parking before heading back to my hotel.

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A winding path

Day 2 of Hawaii week! A lovely winding path across the cinder with Maunakea in the distance. It’s also Leave No Trace Tuesday and I just want to say please don’t leave your TP behind, especially in areas such as this where there is nowhere to hide anything. Keep a zip-lock bag in your pack for carrying it out.

The route to the summit of Mauna Loa is marked by lava cairns, though, unfortunately, these cairns are interspersed with tiny white blobs of old toilet paper. At this high altitude they will take years to decompose, and in the meantime will remain an eyesore for other hikers. And don’t think that it’s okay just because others have done it! Do your bit to Leave No Trace anyway – it’s worth it 🙂 Mahalo!

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Day 2 of Hawaii week! A lovely winding path across the cinder with Maunakea in the distance. It's also #LeaveNoTraceTuesday and I just want to say please don't leave your TP behind, especially in areas such as this where there is nowhere to hide anything. Keep a zip-lock bag in your pack for carrying it out. The route to the summit of Mauna Loa is marked by lava cairns, though, unfortunately, these cairns are interspersed with tiny white blobs of old toilet paper. At this high altitude they will take years to decompose, and in the meantime will remain an eyesore for other hikers. And don't think that it's okay just because others have done it! Do your bit to #LeaveNoTrace anyway – it's worth it 🙂 Mahalo! #maunaloa #maunakea #hiking #hawaii #hawaiivolcanoesnationalpark #lnt #nps #explorehawaii #hikehawaii #aloha #ifttt

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My impression is that people are so grossed out by all things toilet-based that they simply refuse to think about ways to deal with it. Suggest a zip-lock bag? People react to the fact you can still see into it. Well, how about you wrap the TP in clean TP? Or bring an old chip/crisp-packet and hide it in there first? So easy to deal with. “Yeah, but then I don’t want it in my pack.” Put in an outside (mesh) pocket, or bring an old plastic carrier bag and tie to the outside. Or put it into your take-out coffee cup. Or bring a few dog-poop bags. See? Easy. The hardest part in all of this is planning ahead. And that takes practice. Plus I suspect that behind the reactions of disgust is the fact that people know they did something wrong and are looking for ways to excuse themselves (no pun intended). After all, people don’t like their faults being pointed out to them.

The hike up to Mauna Loa summit has no outhouse, save for a single open-air throne perched precariously over a huge crack in the lava. Cue jokes about the bowels of the Earth…

The White Mountain

I’ve decided this week deserves some photos from Hawaii 🙂 For Mountain Monday I’m starting with a view of Maunakea, its summit dotted with white telescope domes, as seen from the hike up to Mauna Loa.

I didn’t post much on Instagram last week, mostly because I hadn’t taken much recently that I thought was any good. But I had this idea late yesterday to post a week’s worth of photos from various trips to Hawaii as a way to fill in the current gap in my photographic output. I have quite a few photos from the land of aloha taken over the years, so I imagine that this won’t be the last time I have a Hawaii feature week. And it gave me the idea to feature different places I’ve explored too.

Back to the photo. Maria and I had wanted to hike up to the summit of Mauna Loa for years, and we finally got around to tackling it in August 2014. This is the view across the broken lava fields towards its bigger sister, Mauna Kea – the white mountain – which turns out to be the tallest mountain in the world as measured from the sea bed where it begins. The various observatory domes are gleaming white at the summit, and the colour changes from the lush green of the saddle into the yellows and browns of the ranchland before the vegetation runs out and the rusty colour of the cinder takes over. (Walking on Mauna Kea is how I imagine it feels to be on Mars.) It’s a view I’d been wanting to see for over two decades and it was a truly spectacular sight.

At some point in the years since I first visited Hawaii, Mauna Kea came to be referred to as Maunakea and so I’m never quite sure which way to spell it these days. I’m hedging my bets and using both 🙂