Near the southern most point of the Big Island (and also technically the most southern point of the United States if you include Hawaii) lies a remote burnt out volcano that is slowing being eroded by the ocean – and down inside the caldera of the volcano lies the Green Sand beach, one of the only two in the world. Like all of the cooler places on the island, it’s not easy to get to and you again must resort to either a 4WD or hike the 2.5 miles out on tough sandy terrain.
Those with any appreciation for science and astronomy would surely want to include a visit to Mauna Kea on their Hawaii itinerary. The summit reaches 13,800 ft, and is home to some of the world’s best observatories with the mountain itself having a unique ecology comprised of several different climates. Getting to the top can be a challenge though, and requires some experience with a 4WD or at the least some willingness to take on a tough hike (I suppose one could also join up with one of the dozens of tour groups that visit daily, but that’s boring).
The day prior to my trip up the mountain, I had heard a story from locals saying a tourist had recently wrecked his rental car trying to drive up the summit, and it had since been turned into a small ski ramp before it was eventually removed. Not wanting the same fate, and enjoying the challenge of a difficult hike, I decided to spend the day on the summit trail, smartly leaving my car at the visitor station roughly located at 9,200 ft.
The hike itself is not terribly long (six miles), but after 10,000 ft altitude sickness hits and I end up having to pause every 100 feet or so to catch my breath. Hours later at the top and in the shadows of the obversatories, I’m greeted with amazing views of the Big Island.
During my time down in Hawaii, I had the unique opportunity to stay in an open air loft situated on the Kalapana lava field, an area that was once a town by the same name up until the early 90’s when it was wiped out by the slow moving flows that are still visible miles out. Attracted by peaceful living and affordable prices, a few dozen people and families have since come back to build simple homes knowing that new active flows could easily wipe their work out (a home was destroyed as recently as 2010). Deciding to live here might seem unusual, but after a week I was already dreaming of building a loft of my own there.
Engineered Garments for several years now has been incorporating Hawaiian fabrics into its collections, my first memory of it being the bark cloth pieces made for the Spring/Summer 09 season. The current season was the jackpot though, if you had any tropical vacations planned this year, and highlights were several shirt designs including popovers, four pocket camp shirts (similar to the Guayabera), and the more traditional button downs. Other designers have since taken notice, and you can now find Hawaiian patterned fabrics in increasingly more collections.
Above – A popover from the current season which has a print fabric that was reversed around when cutting it off from the bolt, giving it a more subdued color palette. Turning the shirt inside out would show its true colors.
Below – A QT vest from last year, which in my case is more ideal for layering.