Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Telescopes Mauna Kea, HI, Sunday, 13 August 2006 5:20pm

Managed to sleep in to a luxurious 7:30 this morning. I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon sitting on Chad's porch and reading. I took occasional breaks to look at the plume from the volcano in the distance.

In the afternoon, we headed up to the telescopes, pausing at the Gemini center in Hilo to take some pictures of the new space science tourist center's titanium roof tiles and pick up one of Chad's cow-orkers. He'd been mountain biking down from the peak the day before and managed to flip over his handlebars 20mi into the 40mi ride. Luckily, some passing pig hunters gave him a ride to the hospital for 22 stitches in his forehead. He was ok, and looking stylish in a rockstar bandana-style bandage, but he'd left his car up on the mountain.

The ride up covered a broad swath of Hawaiian terrain types. Leaving Hilo, we traveled through rain forests, then passed through a zone of lava flows that were beginning to grow light vegetation before reaching the high desert towards the top of the mountain. It got foggy as we ascended and started raining lightly, but we passed above the weather before we reached the 9000ft visitor center.

The observatories were awesome. It was really neat to see the different telescopes, and Chad was a great guide. He was able to answer almost all of our questions about them (even the things he didn't actually work on himself). We did a short hike up to the true summit and then returned to the Gemini observatory to watch the sunset. We didn't actually get to go inside the Gemini because it was having maintenance done.

I took some Diamox in the morning and it seemed to make a huge difference. I got a mild headache and walking was a little more taxing than usual, but I had none of the dizziness and exhaustion that I felt in Cuzco.