(Disclaimer: The author fully appreciates the irony and hypocrisy of taking a van tour atop Mauna Kea with a bunch of haoles and at the same time decrying the destruction and defilement of the mountain top.)
Recently, Tamerlane took a van tour to the top of Mauna Kea. I wanted to go there for a number of reasons, including:
-Test the altitude medication's efficacy before my long trek through the Andes (it worked but it made me piss like a race horse for many nights),
-Reach the top of the tallest mountain in the world (33,000 plus feet, measured from the sea floor up),
-Travel the dreaded Saddle Road (not as bad as I thought),
-See the observatories, and
-See the stars (I saw the Southern Cross for the first time in my life).
Though all of the reasons for my journey were fulfilled, the price was simply too high.
Mauna Kea (or White Mountain) is of tremendous spiritual importance to the Hawaiians. It is white because of the snow that often dusts the peak. It is the home of Poli'ahu, the snow goddess. This is contrasted by Mauna Loa (or Black Mountain), home of Poli'ahu's rival, Pele, the goddess of fire. The number of legends and heiaus (temples) on Mauna Kea speak to its importance.
We've ravaged the islands enough. Kaho'olawe is uninhabitable due to naval bombardments. Niihau is a desert now. Waikiki is overfilled with hotel highrises. West Maui is more developed than Newport Beach. And,come September, a Superferry will be wreaking havoc from Kauai to the Big Island (and bugging the poor whales in the winter months with "special" whalewatching routes). Let's dismantle the observatories, clean up our mess, and leave the sacred mountain to the snow goddess and her people.