Hawaii – Day 6 & 7: Smoke, Summits (again), and Sunsets

So this “s” title thing is getting a little out-of-hand right??

Anyway, short post (but a lot of pictures) today from our 6th and 7th days in Hawaii! So without further ado:

 

Day 6: From Lava Landscapes to Rainforests

We landed at the Kona airport – a completely outdoor facility complete with Hula dancers – around 11AM. The barren lava-filled landscape was a complete change from the pristine beaches of Oahu. We then began the drive around the northern part of the island to Hilo, where we would be staying. The diversity of the landscape on this island is unrivaled by anything I’ve seen – going from a city surrounded by lava rock that gets about 15-20 inches of rain per year (Kona) to Hilo, a town surrounded by rainforest that gets 200. Along the way, we stopped at the Waipio Valley Lookout (which unfortunately was cloudy, though still beautiful) and Akaka Falls – a 422 foot, single-drop waterfall. We finished the day by driving to the house we rented for 3 nights, which was located in the middle of the rainforest (pictures coming on a later day)!

 

Day 7: Helicopter Rides and Oxygen Deprivation

There’s a bunch of pictures from this day, so I’ll keep this part short – see the photos if you want more of the story! The day started with a helicopter ride to get an aerial view of the Volcanoes National Park grounds (which was awesome), followed with a trip to Rainbow Falls, then pizza (slightly less eventful), and finally to the summit of Mauna Kea. So check out the pictures!

 

Next up: Volcanoes National Park!

The view from the Waipio Valley Lookout. Not too bad right?

The view from the Waipio Valley Lookout. Not too bad right?

Don't know what these falls were called, but the sunlight peeked through the clouds just enough to shine on them!

Don’t know what these falls were called, but the sunlight peeked through the clouds just enough to shine on them!

The half-mile loop trail at Akaka Falls State park was incredible! It was through the rainforest the entire time.

The half-mile loop trail at Akaka Falls State park was incredible! It was through the rainforest the entire time.

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Helicopter Tour

Helicopter Tour

I had no idea how active the volcanoes on the Big Island were! The smoke is coming from lava currently at the surface. In some places, we saw lava flows burning through forest.

I had no idea how active the volcanoes on the Big Island were! The smoke is coming from lava currently at the surface. In some places, we saw lava flows burning through forest.

Sometimes you just can't count on nature to cooperate with your plans! The line through the trees used to be a road through Volcanoes National Park. That section is now closed for obvious reasons.

Sometimes you just can’t count on nature to cooperate with your plans! The line through the trees used to be a road through Volcanoes National Park. That section is now closed for obvious reasons.

 

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

One of my personal favorites. Taken on the drive up to Mauna Kea (seen in the background). The rest of my family thought I was crazy for laying down on the lava rock to get this shot, but it was worth it!

One of my personal favorites. Taken on the drive up to Mauna Kea (seen in the background). The rest of my family thought I was crazy for laying down on the lava rock to get this shot, but it was worth it!

I guess that's what happens when you spend the day at 9000+ feet.

I guess that’s what happens when you spend the day at 9000+ feet.

A few of the 13 working telescopes at the summit at the summit (around 14000 feet).

A few of the 13 working telescopes at the summit at the summit (around 14000 feet).

The observatories we got to go in. Also the site of one of my best (in my opinion) puns of the trip: "What the heck, more like what the Keck!" I should probably work as a high altitude-specific comedian.

The observatories we got to go in. Also the site of one of my best (in my opinion) puns of the trip: “What the heck, more like what the Keck!” I should probably work as a high altitude-specific comedian.

Inside the Keck Observatory

Inside the Keck Observatory

It turns out that hikes at this altitude aren't the most fun.  This half-a-mile hike seemed like a half marathon.

It turns out that hikes at this altitude aren’t the most fun. This half-a-mile hike seemed like a half marathon.

It was a truly extraterrestrial landscape.

It was a truly extraterrestrial landscape.

Possibly, the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. The light stayed around for almost an hour after the sun set.

Possibly, the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. The light stayed around for almost an hour after the sun set.

I took like 50 pictures of this piece of land barely sticking up through the clouds.

I took like 50 pictures of this piece of land barely sticking up through the clouds.

A while after the sun had set at the summit.

A while after the sun had set at the summit.

We dropped down to 9000 feet to see the stars from the Mauna Kea Visitor Center. Supposedly, you see more stars at this altitude because your brain doesn't work well enough at the summit. The amount of stars was absolutely incredible, by far the most I've ever seen.

We dropped down to 9000 feet to see the stars from the Mauna Kea Visitor Center. Supposedly, you see more stars at this altitude because your brain doesn’t work well enough at the summit. The amount of stars was absolutely incredible, by far the most I’ve ever seen.

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