Big Island

The Kohala Zip Line on the Big Island

At first, I was very nervous.

When the idea first came up about zipping between trees (at speeds up to 40 mph) while being suspended 100 feet above the ground— well, for some reason that sounded a little crazy.

Leisl– “Teller of Bad Jokes”, Excellent Guide

Leisl– “Teller of Bad Jokes”, Excellent Guide

 

Our two guides, Liesl and Peter put us at ease— sort of. They were very focused as we geared up with a full harness, hard hat and prayer book of our choice (just kidding about the prayer book.)

It was a fifteen minute drive up the hill to get to the canopy. Along the way, we passed grazing cattle, beautiful green countryside, and the location of an epic battle between King Kamehameha and invaders from another island. As we ascended the hill, our guides entertained us with historical facts (some of which were true), bad jokes (I’ll just blame Leisl for those) and an enthusiasm that was contagious!

Peter- beneath that calm, competent exterior is a mad man.

Peter- beneath that calm, competent exterior is a mad man.

One guide would zip to the end of the line and wait for us, while the other would attach all of the equipment to the cables and make certain that all was connected before we each took our turn.

The first two lines were short and helped us to get comfortable with the harness and the very important concept of braking!  At that point, we had the opportunity to chicken out if we wanted to, but I was already hooked.  This was going to be a blast.

The platforms were large (they can accomodate 10 people safely) and built with minimal disruption to the trees. At all times, we were either tethered to the zip line or to a cable around the tree— so that we couldn’t plummet 100 feet down into the lush, green growth below.  (Not that I was worried about that😉 )

At first, all I could focus on was the next platform. But after a while, I started to look around. Below us was untouched forest. There was a babbling brook that meandered back and forth, large ferns and even evidence of ancient hawaiian raised gardens— the rock borders are still in place.  This was really cool!

The zip lines became longer and faster, and when that wasn’t enough adrenaline, then came the suspension bridges.  Nothing like looking down between your feet and seeing . . . . that “down” was a long way down there!!!

Look Ma, I’m at the top of the trees!!

Finally, we reached the last platform and it was time to return to solid ground.  We had a great time in the canopy and, as you can see, our guides took some great pictures during the expedition.

If you’re on the Big Island, I definitely recommend the Kohala Zipline! In fact, I think you should go to the Big Island just for the the Kohala Zipline— it’s worth it!

Kim Klingborg, Zipline Addict

A Trip to the Stars—At the Mauna Kea Observatory on the Big Island

 by Jon Klingborg, DVM

 It’s a bit of journey to the top of the Mauna Kea volcano, but well worth it. Mauna Kea is the highest point in the Pacific Basin and the perfect place for watching the stars.  At nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, it is above 40% of the Earth’s atmosphere. It's a bit of a trek, but well worth it!

  As you can know, the higher you go, the colder the air gets. By the time we arrived at summit, the temperature had dropped from the tropical 75 degrees at sea level to only a few degrees above zero.  Thank goodness the tour company was prepared and provided well-insulated suits for all of us.  We were quite comfortable while we looked out from on top of the world.

         About two hours into the trip, we stopped for a break and to eat dinner.  I had the barbeque chicken and it was delicious.

         An hour later, we took another break at the Museum & Shop just “down the road” from the observatories. As we continued to gain altitude, it soon became apparent that we were going to be above the clouds.

         Finally, we’d arrived at the summit in time for sunset.  We parked right next to one of the observatories, which was in the process of repositioning a giant telescope, so it grumbled and rumbled as the entire circular building turned.

  Looking out at the view, you can see other observatories perched at the topmost points of the volcano.

          Sunset brought more spectaculars view as blue sky gave way to black.

          Heading back down the volcano, we stopped off at a turn out where our guide set up a telescope. There, we were able to stargaze in a small group.  We were actually able to see the red spot on Jupiter with perfect clarity.  AMAZING!

Another stop at the Museum & Gift Shop, and then it was time to head home. We arrived late that night (10 pm), with a feeling of awe and contentment that cannot be described.