Maha trail

Maha Laka means “where the lava comes”. This specific area on the summit of Mauna Loa includes blocks of lava flowing down through an amp; at one time during the eruptive process, the lava had stopped and cooled to form a hard rock-covered structure.

This tree-covered lava flow formed from overheating and cooling of the hot lava is a product of dynamic heating. The lava is highly enriched with carbonates (especially iodine) that form when certain minerals in the crust react with each other with the heated lava to form carbonates. These hard residents are called clinkers, vandals, and hotspots, by many geologists.

State and federal agencies, including the National Park Service, have a policy that prevents U.S. land from being erred in terms of national heritage, as expressed in a 1996 joint agreement. The policy is meant to be modified to preserve nature and minimize damage to lands and cultural landmarks.

It is expected that the volcano will remain quiet for at least another decade, but based on past activity, we may see it again before that. Anyone is advised to stay away from the area closest to the summit; it is a very narrow cleft in the glacier. The National Park Service suggests that visitors prefer to take an 800-900 minute walk on the west side of Mauna Loa to reach the summit and look down.

If you choose to stand on the edge of Mauna Loa while waiting for the forthcoming eruption, you will be subjected to the hottest and most intense solar radiation since the 1950s. The highest peak on the island of Hawai’i, usually referred to as Kilauea, rises where the crater used to be. Due to the prominent crater, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations and has been referred to as the Carlsbad of the Pacific.

We made our way to the summit of Mauna Loa, also called the Mountain of the Celestial Revolution, on the 4th of July amid spotty sunshine. The summit is at an elevation of about 7,000 to 8,000 feet and features the world’s highest “gey” – a cold spot in the summit because of the high ambient air. Mauna Loa has been deemed the place where the heavens touch the earth on several occasions by Native Hawai’ians.

There are several tour companies that offer day trips to Mauna Loa. Our experience on the Kilauea trail was by far the best. Our hiking gear rental resulted in the installation of a lap-top GPS unit that provided actual field information on the position of the volcano and daily weather conditions. We had a skillful two-hour hike to the summit that had standing room only at the summit. The weather was very warm and comfortable – never a biting cold wind.

The next day we went to the buttocks of the island – the source of the 13 parallel channels that feed the volcano. These channels are calm water caldera that was formed by the eruption of the Black Cloud – also known as the Black Hole. The summit is a highly elliptical rock overhang with pristine white quartz heart-shaped cliffs. I could even make out small fishes swimming around a very cloudy crater at the edge of the crater and on the windward side of the island.

I have hiked to the summit of Mauna Loa several times. This includes a very controversial hike where I attempted to reach the summit using the old route that was used by the Polynesian ancestors of the Maori people.

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