Hawaii Volcanoes National Park High Point Trip Report

Mauna Loa (13,667 ft)

Date: December 13, 1994
Author: David Olson

I got a fairly early start from the hostel in Hilo but it still took me until 9:00 am to get to the Mauna Loa weather observatory trailhead in my rented 4WD vehicle. One car was already there. Most of the road to the observatory is one lane. No vegetation in sight at the trail- head, and there never was any. There was very little trail, frequently just large cairns on the Pahoehoe lava. Soon I noticed a lengthy flow of aa lava immediately to the left, east, of the trail. And eventually the route crossed another aa flow - harsh. Higher up there was more variety in the terrain. I hiked past blazing red colored rock, and tan-green grit that looked wet, or coated with plastic.

I met one hiker, on his way down. The summit register said he was from Tokyo Japan. The view on top, 13679 ft, is wonderful. The top is only a step away from the 600 foot cliff to the caldera floor. The cliff is colorful, while the floor of the caldera is paved with black lava from a 1984 flow. At the summit I saw the only evidence of life high on the mountain, a wolf spider.

I also saw this in the summit register: "10-13-94 Tom De Roo 1226 19th Ave SW Puyallup WA / climbed Mauna Kea yesterday, my 50th state high point, Now onto the 2nd highest mtn in each state." The register had been left on top by the Colorado Mtn. Club.

The trip down was uneventful. I got back to my car, picked-up garbage under my arm, just before sunset.