TREX 2018 Day 14: a Beach, a Mountain and a Sunset
By Ju Chulakadabba ‘19
Today was the first no-work day for all of the TREXers. Our plan was to move from Puhana beach to a hotel in Kona and to go to Mauna Kea— the biggest mountain on Earth, home of one of the U.S. best observatory station, and religious land of the native Hawaiian.
Our day was supposed to start around 9 AM. However, some of us decided to go and say goodbye to Puhana beach for one last time early in the morning.
We then packed everything up, headed to a car rental place, switched to the new car, and started our journey to the highest mountain on earth. The oxygen level decreased as we went up. The climate zone changed again. The surrounding looked like we were in Mars. Everything was so primitive.
We had a tour at the observatory station and then some of us went on a hike to a lake after the tour. We all reunited to watch the sunset together and it was stunning. I was so glad that I got to see this majestic sunset on Mauna Kea summit.
After the sunset, we headed back to Kona, checked in at the hotel and got dinner by ourselves. This was actually my first time comprehending that I was actually in Hawaii. Chang, James, and I walked along the beach, and went to a Hawaiian restaurant where we tried traditional Hawaiian dishes and Kava for the first time. Kava was an interesting drink. It is meant to be a welcome drink for guests of the Polynesias. It also has calming effects and acts as a sleeping aid; this was perfect for today.
After dinner, we got back to the hotel and went straight to beds. It was a long day, yet fulfilling. I could not believe that we could travel from beach, to the summit, and to the actual touristy place in one day. Sweet!
Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.