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This mountain on the Big Island of Hawaii is the only place in the South Pacific where ice forms naturally. Some years the entire summit of the mountain is covered with ice. In fact on rare occasions you can actually ski there!
The bottom of the mountain is covered with plant life, including mossy, trees, and grass. As you work your way up the mountain, you’ll notice that the pavement stops and you’re forced to travel on a dirt trail. The best way to do this is to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle. On your way up you’ll see Hale Pohaku. This is an area where many scientists who work on the mountain live. Then when you’re almost to the top, you’ll see Lake Waiau. Only two other American lakes are higher in altitude than this one. Once you get to the top, you’ll be mesmerized. The view is breathtaking and the atmosphere will take your breath, too. Keep in mind that you’re some 13,796 feet above sea level. Looking down, you can see the entire island. It will appear miniscule to you in comparison to the size of the mountain.
Mauna Kea is one of the best such observatories in the world. It is able to get above 40 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere to study the sky and the ground. In fact, the air is so thin there, that the people who work in the observatories must go down to sea level every three or four days in order to regain their sanity and mind. The air can have a negative affect on a brain over time.
You’ll also notice Mauna Kea State Park while you’re on the mountain. This is a park that sits part-way up the mountain. You can walk around here and have a picnic. You can even camp here over night, but you need to be sure to make your reservations in advance because they’re popular.