Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Pu'u Ahumoa - the Spiral Hike


On the slopes of Mauna Kea, on the dry west side, stands a thousand-foot-high cinder cone with a gently sloped spiral trail to its summit.  It's called Pu'u Ahumoa.

The summit is 7000 feet in elevation.  It is nicely symmetrical, but looks rather ordinary on approach.  But it has turned out to be one of my favorite Big Island Hikes.


Why?  Well, Ahumoa is strategically situated such that on a clear day, one can view five major volcano summits--every volcano on the Big Island except Kilauea, plus Haleakala on the neighboring island of Maui.

Unfortunately, the day I hiked was far from perfectly clear.  Off to the west, in the Saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, a thunderstorm was brewing.


The view of Hualalai was a peek-a-boo view.


The gap between Hualalai and Mauna Loa offers views of a nicely symmetric cinder cone.


Mauna Kea itself was covered by towering clouds, here viewed with Ahumoa's crater in the foreground.


The dry side of the island has been greening up since the deluge of rain brought by Hurricane Lane a couple weeks ago.  So there were plants providing color that normally lie dormant.


The first mile of the access route to Pu'u Ahumoa is part of a 36 mile multi-use trail that circles the flanks of Mauna Kea.  It's an overnight hike that I chose not to do on this trip, in order to fly without checking baggage, and because it's open to vehicles.


Maybe another time.  My focus for this trip is the 175 mile coastal trail, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, which I'm designating as Hawaii's contribution to the Fifty Trail.   My next report, coming soon, covers more of that amazingly diverse route.

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