Snow?  Hawaii?

Not a typo nor a fantasy.  Started Tuesday with a 4WD trek UP Mount Mauna Kea, one of Hawaii’s two 13ers.

Mauna Loa, known for its active lava flow.  Mauna Kea, the world’s highest telescope.  “The altitude and isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes Mauna Kea one of the best locations on earth for ground-based astronomy.”

Gonna be a HUGE day – Fire, Ice AND a tropical Waterfall 🙂


Rank      Name           Elevation      Counties

1         Mauna Kea       13,796′          Hawaii

2         Mauna Loa       13,679′          Hawaii

Hopped aboard the Grecos SUV (thanks again Paul for chauffeuring), drove an hour east toward Hilo – our third day travelling the Big Island’s Saddle Road (Hawaii 200), island’s only East-West highway (Kona to Hilo).

First stop: Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, adjacent the Visitors Center.  Closed ‘til noon.  Stretched our legs, started the 7-mile all-dirt journey UP to Mauna Kea Observatory.  Less than a handful of US states with 13,000ft peaks.

Rocky, barren, red Martian landscape.  UP UP UP.  Patches of last week’s windswept snow remained on the high peaks near the Observatory.  Stopped outside each massive structure: the Subaru Telescope, Keck I and II Telescopes, NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility.

After multiple days of tropical humidity, LOVE LOVED my half-hour of high-altitude gusty, thin air.  FAAANNNTASTIC!


  • Hilo Lunch: organic Kombucha at Sweet Cane Café
  • Hilo Highlight: Rainbow Falls in Wailuku River State Park.  Short hike, top of the Falls thru a forest of Giant Banyan trees (double WOW) to the Boiling Pots, a succession of big pools formed by slow cooling lava.  What a crazy diverse climate!

Evening’s activity? LAVA: the ONE single most thing I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do in Hawaii.  And not the possible red glow a mile away, from the deck of a building in the National Park.  Pāhoa Lava Flow, tonite’s ranger-free private-land molten lava experience.

[Too early in the afternoon to head to the south coast.  Most impressive after dark.]

Filled our lava ‘wait’ time at Mauna Loa.  NOT the massive peak ‘cross from Mount Mauna Kea…rather, Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s #1 Macadamia nut manufacturer.   Factory tour, garden walk – FREE samples at the gift store.  No money, lotta flavours.

Did I say FREE?  Reality: Tasty & super addictive.  ALL of us dropped cash here.  LOL>



Rainbow Falls (Waiānuenue)




Set my watch-alarm – no need today – woke early to other 4WD vehicles struggling up the boulder-littered trek to Bridal Veil Falls.  Cool morning temps, dusky predawn sky.  Telluride HIKE day!

Mile drive (from last night’s sleepover).  Parked; positioned third roadside.  Spots fill fast (& ranger patrolled).  You’re late, you hike – an additional 2 ½ miles UP.  Crawled thru the gate at Bridal Veil Powerhouse (built in 1907 to power Smuggler-Union Mine).  Would snap a pic of the Falls on the hike return.  Tall evergreen (pine & spruce), lush undergrowth (fern & wildflower) AND….waterfalls.

Would see more waterfalls on today’s trek than any previous Colorado hike in my life.

Relatively short 5.4 miles roundtrip.  Blue Lake wasn’t my original hike destination – one left turn when I should have veered right, log-crossed Bridal Veil Creek.  Bluest blue water, absolutely no regrets.

Open meadows of wildflower, canyon wall backdrop.  Waterfall, waterfall, waterfall.  WOW.  Top 10 Colorado hike location.  If only Telluride were closer – so many hikes, so little time.  I see a week-long backpack adventure in my summer future.

Unleashed Ro early on (slept much of the drive home).  Up trail, down trail.  Run, run, run.  Poised high on rocks above, bouncing thru field flowers trying to flush out wildlife (chipmunk & grouse).  Happy dog, happy life ❤

Altimeter topped at 12,400ft.  Mountain walls reflected off Blue Lake’s quiet clear surface.  Crazy beautiful.

Dropped off trail.  Waded thru a tall cascading waterfall, explored an abandoned mining cabin.  Bridal Veil Falls tourist shot snapped – check, done.  $3 shower at Town Park in Telluride, money well spent 🙂  SUPER FUN DAY!

Left early/drove 7 hours straight to avoid next day’s holiday traffic crunch.  Reward?  Monday cookout at Ash & Tom’s.  Burgers & pasta salad [black bean burger/non-cow eaters].  Afternoon’d w/ daughter at the family puzzle du jour.   Happy Labor Day 2017!



Blue Lake Trail-Telluride



AMAZING morning sunrise.  Watched for half-hour before rustling up breakfast – eggs & chicken-apple sausage (sadly, warm runny eggs/pan-fried 20 minutes).  Brushed teeth, shut up the tent, tethered Ro to my belt – HIKE day!

Mile/mile-half drive DOWN from my camp site.  Secured parking near Rotary Park, short tenth-mile walk to Garden Creek Falls.

Previously trekked this trail, day-before the Casper Marathon 2015.

[June 2015] …hiked Casper Mountain.  Not the Rockies experience of the Bighorns, but a good 5-mile day hike.  Probably not the best prep, day before a marathon but…I’m a lover of mountains.

Bridle Trail: 5 mile loop up/over the Falls.  June 2015 vs August 2017?  Today, whole lotta hikers.  Whole lotta COLORADO hikers.  Appears much of the Front Range arrived in Wyoming overnight & were doing what Coloradans do – get OUTDOORS.  Literally met only ONE Wyoming-based family on today’s trail.  [Thanks to Ro – everyone stops & says hi.  He’s a very pet-able Pup. 🙂 ]

Englemann spruce, Rocky Mountain juniper, Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Green Ash, Cottonwood, Chokeberry, Quaking Aspen.  This trail’s a tree BONANZA, landscape more reminiscent of Boulder County than Central Wyoming.

Bridle hiked counter-clockwise, finishing over the Mountain’s rock-canyon outcropping.  WIDE-OPEN Casper 2800 feet below, today’s WOW shot (‘though skyline bit hazy due to BC/Western Canada forest fires).

Picnic’d by the Falls, then drove into town before roads closed for tomorrow’s eclipse.  YMCA-showered (FREE/very much appreciated!), check’d out the Cowboy Code of Ethics, shopped Wyoming’s (dog-friendly) Eclipse Festival.

7pm ‘til after next day’s TOTAL Eclipse (noon-ish) – Mountain gated off from Casper.

Dusk-walked Ro by our camp owner’s wild mustang rescue.  BEAUTIFUL horse.  Another pink, high mountain sunset.  Dinner plans?  Shrimp, mushrooms & olives in a wilted bed of spinach.  Camping B-I-G on BIRTHDAY weekend ❤



Bridle Trail, Casper WY




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