On Top Of Hawaii, Literally

Hi Everyone. This is Rusty. Let’s take a break from the sappy family moments to see some cool pictures of the “big island”, Hawaii. I was there to visit Gemeni Observatory, which is a 25 ft diameter telescope on top of a dormant volcano at an elevation of 14,000 ft. By comparison Timpanogos mountain in Utah is 11,749 ft. I’ve taken to tackling Colorado’s 52, “14ers” so the idea of working on top a “14er” was intriguing… and it’s Hawaii after all.


This is Hilo (at sea level) with Mauna Key (at 14000 ft) rising above it.

Everyday the workers at Gemeni Observatory meet at 7 AM and hop into company SUVs to begin their ascent of Mauna Kea. The terrain quickly changes from a rainforest to a lava filled grassland.

At 10,000 ft all the six active observatories ontop of Mauna Kea have chipped in and built a cafeteria. All employees are required to stop and eat breakfast there for a half hour to acclimate. The food was pretty good.

The top is covered with snow- some people ski this crater.

Finally you get to the top- it’s amazing to see these huge structures up this high.

Inside the telescope is awesome. It’s also very cold. They have to keep the interior about 40 degrees so that when they open the dome after dark there are no interior to exterior temperature variations.

A photo of the beginning of telescope observations.

After visting Gemeni observatory I did some hiking around Volcanoes National Park. It rained all day. I’d warm up in the hot steam vents.

This is the lava field that is currently errupting. Unfortunately there was no lava flowing the day I was there. After two hours of crossing the lava field I turned back.

So then I tried to hike Mauna Loa, which is Mauna Kea’s wicked (still active) step-sister. There is no road up to Mauna Kea – it’s a 21 mile hike, so needless to say my one free day didn’t cut it.

Next trip. Any takers?

– Rusty

5 thoughts on “On Top Of Hawaii, Literally

  1. Oh I’m in. And when you are finished with America’s peaks, come try some of Europe’s. Actually, I’ve been trying to get my dad excited about Kilamanjaro. You work on Alan. I think the four of us are due an adventure. Don’t tell Annie.

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  2. Rusty, sounds like you’re having a good time. I think you forgot to invite me.Tara, thank you so much for your book suggestion. I was very happy to hear that I didn’t have to live the rest of my life wondering what happened between Rhett and Scarlett. I checked the book out a few days ago!

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  3. Rusty, great pictures, and while I haven’t gotten to go INSIDE the observatory like you, did your babe of a wife tell you all about our escapade up the mountain and all over the big island? We are almost as cool as you… and YES! Let’s go back! Big group party. Can you sneak us into the domes? I’ll bring my jacket.

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