Sunday, February 10, 2008

What we came for and a hike (5 of 104)

We finally got a good day for taking data! Finally. After three miserable days up here on the mountain and two days where we didn't even bother coming up, we have clear sky and are getting our calibration done.

When we decided not to come up yesterday morning I first went back to bed and slept for almost two more hours. Then I woke up with Kris and Jasper and we headed over to Volcanoes National Park for the day. Unfortunately it was a bust. First of all, vast major huge portions of the park were closed due to high sulfur emissions (I guess they don't have interest in sufocating tourists...) and second of all it was rainy and very foggy and visibility was so crappy we couldn't even see the caldera floor! What a waste! On the bright side we did get out and about and get to see alot of Hawaii where the real people live and got away from the whole resort thing (which neither Kris nor I are really into that much).

After we got the instrument set up this morning and verified it was running well, I set out for a little hike up the volcano. Okay, there is no such thing as a little hike starting at 11,150 feet. It wasn't an epic slough to the top either. Instead it was roughly three and a half miles up the volcano and back. That's about halfway to the top. I really just wanted to do it as a primer for a full on assault of the summit if I feel up to it in the next three days or so. There is still plenty of snow up there (see picture above) but it was easy to get around and didn't slow me much. The hiking is unlike anything else except maybe hiking across bare granite. The "trail" is simply a line cairns (locally known as "ahu") that you have to follow. The up and down over the lava varies from scrambling to easy walking but it's all abrasive. I took quite a few miles off the life of my boots this morning. I really wanted to keep going but I promised John I was going to be back by a certain time so I eventually had to force myself to turn around and head back down. There will very hopefully be a follow up story to this one where I get to the top! (BTW I carried my cell phone, GPS, pen and paper for taking notes, lots of food and water and a very good sense of my own limitations so there should be no worry about me finding my final day atop of a beautiful volcanic mountain. Hmmm, not that that would be a bad way to go!)

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