With a nickname "long mountain" is Mauna Loa the most massive moutain in the world. The paek ( 4 169m) is on western side of crater. Measured from its base on the seafloor, it rise 18 480m and is after Mauna Kea second highsted int he world. Moutain's capacity is 19 000 mil3.
To the summit lead htree tracks. Less known and used is Ainapo Tril. I took the most recommended Mauna Loa Trail which started at Mauna Loa Lookout at elevation 2 031m. To get there could be a problem because the track starts 21,7 kilometers away from the road #11 where is traffic. I was lucky and got a lift by a older couple. If you do nto have a luck there is onther problem - drinking water. All the way till Red Hill Cabin there is nto any water source. You have to carry inough water with you.
Path is constantly slowly heading up. A first part long 12,1 kilometers ends at Red Hill Cabin (3 059m ) or Pu'u 'Ula'ula. Here you can get rainwater from barrels, but only if since the last rain was not all drank. There is not any water source along the trail. With first kilometer bush disappear and only what you can see is lava in many colors and shapes. This place is unique and makes you feel that.
At Red Hill Cabin I stay for a night. You have to have a permit that issue information center for free. I have stood up early in the morning and watched beautiful sunrise. From Red Hill Cabin it is possible to see first time Mauna Kea - the highest mountain in Hawaii.
Second day is my hike longer. To the Mauna Loa Cabin it is 19,5 kilometers non stop uphill. The scenery is very magic again. In whole day I have not met anybody. Not only another human but not even any birds... White clouds have been whole day below me. I can see only lava, lava and another lava fields around me and blue sky above me. Only noise what I could hear is made by my steps on solid lava.
There are two types of Hawaiian lava. According to gas and temperature it's created "Pahoehoe" or "'a'a". If temperature is high lava flows faster and than has smooth and ropey surface This one is called "Pahoehoe". On the other side "'a'a" is more jagged and clinkery. Lava has a sharp surface and that does not fit to my shoes. With time shoes are worn out.
To edge of North Pit I reached after 15,3 kilometers long hike. It took me 5 hours and 20 minutes. I take a half hour rest and than walk through a part of crater to Mauna Loa Cabin at (4 039m). This vut is siteated on eastern slope just next to crater's edge. The last two miles look not just for me much longer. Trail is nto so easy like a first section. I have to take two breaks on such short section. With slow progress I am looking forward to see a hut. I expect it behind every lava formation but it takes a long long time before I could finaly see it. Whole today's hike took me seven hours. You can feel almost like on the top of the world. Sky, clouds, ocean and Earth's radius on horizon...total silence just time to time break by breeze ....
Hut provides rainwater from a barrel. But when I was there water was very bad - yellow ... Unfortunely I did not have another one and to treat water only pills. ...but even after three years later I fell ok so in the end it was not so bad :) Škoda že mám jen tablety a ne filtr....
Night sky was great and if not freeying it would be ecelent :)I climbed to the summit with all my gear so I could descend along Observatory Trail. This path is little bit more steep but it is still easy. It is 10 kilometers from Mauna Loa Cabin to the Observatory (3 399m). From here is narrow paved road but without any traffic. To other road with traffic it is another 30 kilometers. I got a lift after 20 kilometers walk. Along this track is not any water resource too.