Walking the King’s Trail

Rather than spend the evening obsessing over election results I opted to take a hike. Nothing dramatic, just a short loop hike close to home, along the shoreline south of ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay .

Looking north the Waikoloa Resorts along the King's Trail
Looking north the Waikoloa Resorts along the King’s Trail

The plan was to use the King’s Trail to quickly hike a couple miles out, then to take my time hiking back along the shoreline. I timed my start so that sunset would occur while I was coming back along the beach.

While this section of the King’s Trail is over 150 years old, it is in excellent condition and allows easy hiking across the lava fields. The trail cuts absolutely straight over the ridges and tumuli of piled rock, much faster than slogging through the beach sand.

I had hiked the shoreline here many times, but had not hiked any real length of the King’s Trail. The trail crosses the lava flows well above the coastline, as a result it can be brutally hot under a tropical Sun, while the shoreline offers regular shade and a cool ocean breeze.

This particular election day evening the Sun was muted by a broken overcast sky. Why not use the trail?

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Distanced from Reality

On Monday I tuned back into the TMT contested case hearing, it is a soap opera that has become rather addictive over the last few months. I will often keep the video feed up in the corner of my monitor, attempting to pick up the more interesting bits through the day.

Michael Lee
Michael Lee testifies at the TMT contested case hearing Jan 24, 2017
Mr. Lee claims to be a papakilohoku, a star priest, I tuned into his testimony with some interest. As an amateur astronomer who has spent countless nights under the stars observing with hand made telescopes, or simply my unaided eyes, I am very familiar with the sky. I hoped he would relate some interesting Hawaiian sky lore while on the stand, a new legend or two. What I heard instead was a mangled version of astronomy that would embarrass any ancient Polynesian navigator.

Mr. Michael Lee was offered as a witness by Harry Fergerstrom, one of the more extreme participants in the ongoing contested case hearing. It is no surprise that this witness would espouse some of the more interesting claims made against the TMT project. I expected some wild claims, I was surprised at just how wild.

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The Name of Mauna Kea

It has gotten a bit confusing of late. As the argument rages over the summit of Mauna Kea even the name of the mountain is something that few can agree upon. Mauna Kea, Maunakea, Mauna Akea, Ka Mauna a Kea, or Mauna a Wakea are all used by the various parties involved. This is not an idle question, what to call the mountain, the various names are used to present a point of view, a context from which to view the mountain.

Mauna Kea White
Mauna Kea with a fresh covering of snow and ice
The argument has even become contentious on occasion as many insist the correct name is Mauna a Wakea, essentially the mountain of the god Wakea. As this is heavy in religious connotation and procliams the sacredness of the summit, one can understand why this name has become such a symbol.

“The districts of Amakooa and Aheedoo are separated by a mountain, called Mauna Kaah, which rises in three peaks, perpetually covered with snow, and may be clearly seen at 40 leagues’ distance… On doubling the East point of the island, we came in sight of another snowy mountain, called Mouna Roa.” – Journal of the Cook expedition March 17791

The name of this mountain is found in the journals of the Cook expedition, recorded as “Mauna Kaah”. This would be the first record of the mountain’s proper name in writing, and possibly the most accurate record of the ancient usage. The journal does not translate Kaah, but does translate Mauna as mountain. Attempting to translate kaah or kaʻah using modern references does not seem to yield any useful result.

“the summit of the mountain Monakaa, which had been obscured by the clouds since our making the land, was now clear” – Captain Joseph Ingraham, May 22, 1791

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