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TREX 2018 Day 14: The Real Tallest

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TREX 2018 Day 14: The Real Tallest

By Suchan Vivatsethachai `20

After the public talk, we moved to the Kona side, and while we were moving, we also stopped for a one day trip to the peak of Mauna Kea volcano. I would consider the trip the highlight of TREX 2018. If measured from the base under the sea, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, even higher than Mount Everest. It snows on the peak, with temperatures around the freezing point. Even worse, the wind when we were there was around 60 mph. Just standing outside our four-wheel drive cars was challenging by itself.

We arrived at the peak around 3 pm, so some TREXers and I decided to hike to a lake hidden between the volcanoes. The altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level and the steepness of the mountains made the hike so exhausting that we moved very slowly. However, the lake at the end of the path was worthwhile.

Lake hidden inside Mauna Kea volcano

We headed back and waited for the sun to set. While we were enjoying the jaw-dropping scene of the sun setting, someone spotted a super moon on the opposite side with no less beauty. With the stunning view on both sides, even the Boston-like coldness couldn’t stop us from staying outside.

Sun setting on one side

Moon rising on the other side

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.