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Hikers lost on Mauna Loa are rescued Friday night (Nov 23)

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By Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Fire/rescue crews from Hawaii County and Pohakuloa Training Area responded to a 6:45 p.m. alarm Friday (Nov 23) to Mauna Loa’s North slope Observatory Trail near the Mauna Loa Observatory to search for two missing hikers.

The hikers, a 50 year-old Australian man and a 29 year-old German woman, wandered off the trail due to darkness.

The hikers were found in an open lava field two miles from Mauna Loa summit and did not need medical attention after being rescued.

The sun set at about 5:39 p.m. Friday and the temperature at Mauna Loa Observatory, which is at 11,135 feet (3,397 meters), was recorded to be in the high 30s (in Fahrenheit) at 6:45 p.m.

Some info on the trail:…

6 Responses to “Hikers lost on Mauna Loa are rescued Friday night (Nov 23)”

  1. lavapix says:

    Can’t say it enough…..This isn’t a leisurely fanny pack hike……Great info via that link…….

    • Baron Sekiya says:

      I’ve attempted that hike twice with a buddy. First time in the 1980s when even during bright daylight the trail was barely visible (with a few rock cairns and infrequent drops of yellow paint on the trail), made it to the North Pit in bad shape with the two of us nursing a single quart of orange juice between us (we treated it like a ‘fanny pack hike’ and had started the Observatory Trail at 11 a.m.) We were hard-headed enough to make it to the North Pit, then ran downhill as the sun was setting. Made it back safely with sunburns, shoes that were cut-up by the lava rocks and feeling like we were drowning in sea-level air back in Kailua-Kona as it felt so thick. I had even carried a nearly full camera bag and tripod on that trip.

      Second attempt was in the 1990s in the middle of June. Started at maybe 7 a.m, sheets of ice on the ground at about 12,500 elevation, altitude sickness by my buddy, I had a backpack with camera gear, first aid supplies, extra water, light food, gloves and jacket. Unfortunately my shoes were still too new and were punishing my feet. All along with way up we kept saying out-loud, ‘This ain’t no candy-ass hike.’ My buddy ditched his backpack as he couldn’t carry it further after reaching Mokuaweoweo Crater, we probably made it to within 1/4 mile of the summit but had to turn back as extreme clouds started to roll in. Had we continued it would have been a brutal final push to the summit, near zero visibility and no shelter as the cabin is on the opposite side of the caldera. Still had brain cells enough to call it quits and head back down to the vehicle beaten once again.

      One of the toughest hikes on the island due to terrain, exposure and altitude. I’ll try it again sometime.

      • lavapix says:

        Sounds like most hikers story on that trail. The only area I haven’t hiked to is the south pit. Lots of tough shelly pahoehoe in that area. Only once did altitude sickness hit me and it was the entire hike. I toughed it out after having to lay in Jaggar’s cave for 2 hours waiting for sunrise. (My hikes start at 10 pm) Had all of the needed survival gear along with my camera gear. That hike took me just short of the 1940 cone. The sickness cost me too much time to make it all the way there. I was so beat that once I reached my jeep by the observatory I just laid down on the ground for 1/2 an hour before even taking my pack off. The next weekend returned and felt fine and made it to the 1940 cone. Its way back by the south pit area inside of Mauna Loa.

        ck it out here;

        I give myself tons of time to be back before dark but, it really doesn’t matter as I often hike the trail in the dark. I hike it with a friend who is well trained in survival too.

        I’ve hiked nearly every difficult trail our national parks in the lower 48 USA have to offer and that Mauna Loa hike easily is one of the top 5 toughest ones.
        Haven’t been up there in years as the lava has kept me busy but, I will be returning soon. Use to hike it 1-2 times a year.

        • Baron Sekiya says:

          We had an intern at WHT that heard our story, she was from California and her husband also heard our story. I guess he thought we were wimps since he hikes all the time in California. So he tried the hike himself. He was stuck on Mauna Loa for two nights, had fallen into a lava tube, got cut-up, slept in freezing weather in some other tube, didn’t summit. His wife was trying to get the National Park to look for him since it was supposed to be an easy day hike for him. He finally made it out on his own. Went to the hospital got bandaged-up, had to get taken onto the plane in a wheelchair for his trip back to California a few days later.

          This ain’t no candy-ass hike.

          • lavapix says:

            Good thing he had the skills/will to survive. Its people like them who get access to areas closed. I’d say 99% of people who attempt to summit Mauna Loa from the north fail. Usually the first mile or two does them in.

            I tell people to set their stair climbers to the toughest level and then use it with a heavy pack on non-stop for 3-4 hours and that’s hiking up Mauna Loa’s north trail.
            I train for my extreme hikes. Nothing is left to chance.

  2. I summited in 1985. My best friend Jonah and I for spring break (crazy kids) decided to hike to the cabin and spend a couple nights. My Dad drove us to 11K and we began our hike at dawn. Mind you, this was one year after the 1984 eruption so we really had that sense of adventure. I will never forget that hike as it was monotonous, each ridge we would conquer we felt would be the last but it went on and on. Finally we reached North Pit and felt like we had made some serious progress. It was still quite a ways to the south rim where the cabin is.

    I can remember taking a break with our back packs still on sitting on a rock. We were slightly hypoxic. I went to get up and fell backwards onto my pack, I was fine physically but it was like laughing gas, we couldn’t stop laughing. Besides being out of breath for so many hours I felt pretty good O2 wise, but my friend Jonah was having headaches etc and was pretty uncomfortable.

    We finally reached the cabin sometime before sunset etc and unpacked some gear. We grabbed our camera gear and found a high spot and watched the full moon rise to the east and the sunset over to the west while on the edge of the 300 foot caldera edge of Mokuweoweo. Quite something as it is still profound in my mind. As we attempted to sleep that night the moon light was so bright it kept waking me up. Turns out it bothered Jonah too so we got up and put the Army blankets at the cabin over the windows so we could sleep!!

    The next morning we woke up early and walked to the caldera edge and down the rift zone in the middle the steam was just blasting out! Made us a little nervous about maybe there was some new activity! We ended up hiking to the south rim and falling through the thin layers of shelly pahoehoe. Good fun.


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