May 22, 2016 – After breakfast on the deck we headed towards Saddle Road and Mauna Kea. The road going to the top is four wheel drive only, which means we parked at the visitor center, filled out the appropriate wavers (side note – this trail really isn’t that tough to follow, so not sure what that’s about…), geared up and headed out. The visitor center starts at 9000′, and the first few miles of the hike are close to a 20% grade. With sand. The cool part was we were eventually above the clouds, and also had a great view of Mauna Loa.
Mauna Kea is huge. So huge that you forget you’re hiking on an dormant volcano, at least until you see random cinder cones scattered around the mountain. After 3.5 miles we called it quits. We were hiking for time rather than distance, so we gave ourselves 4 hours up and 2 hours to get back down. We found some sun-warmed rocks and ate lunch around 12:30 before starting the trek back. We ran into some swirling rain and walked through some clouds, but made it down without any trouble (and fortunately without any full-blown rain storm).
After relaxing at the B&B for a bit we set off in search of food and wound up at Underground Pizza. We tried the garlic bread with cheese (very good) and a pizza. The pizza crust was a tad bit overdone on the bottom, but it was good for holding all the toppings – we got pesto, garlic, sausage, and mushrooms. Overall it was good NY style pizza, maybe a 3.5/5.