Saturday, January 23, 2010
Yesterday we went to the observatories on the top of Mauna Kea. The summit is 13,796 feet above sea level. We had to do it early in the vacation so that we didn't suffer so much from altitude sickness. It's a very steep climb and for people who aren't used to a higher climate, altitude sickness can be quite a problem.
This is a picture of Mauna Loa, looking at the top peaking above the clouds.
These are the Keck Telescopes. We got to go inside and observe the telescope of the one of the right. They were rotating it at the time. It was so big. Cole was even impressed by the mechanics of it all. It weighs 300 tons, but can be moved by one hand because of the precise balance which is recalculated several times per second.
We tried to hike to the lake (one of the highest in the United States) that is fed by permafrost. We didn't quite make it because Cole is not a hiker and Sierra and I were starting to get headaches from the altitude. This was our second hike of the day. The first one was at sea level and was easy. This hike was much shorter but left all of us out of breath. Amazing what happens when there is less oxygen.
This is what I would imagine it looks like on the moon. Volcanic dust and rock everywhere you look. Not a sign of life as far as you can see. When you get out to one of the edges and you can look down, all you see are clouds. And the tops of other volcanoes.
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, if you consider it's base in the bottom of the ocean. It reaches nearly 30,000 feet from base to top. And from the weight of the mountain, it is sinking every day. It will eventually sink back into the ocean. But, hopefully not until after our vacation!!