Seven athletes, Mauna Loa Volcano, a plan, and you have a recipe for a BOCA adventure! Who’s in? Joy Secritario, Stacia Murray, Kim Burnett, Raul BOCA, Hina Torres de Sa, and making a return appearance to Hawaii, Tammie and Felipe Rael were 100% in! Raul’s brother, Eduardo “Duda” Sa, who was an adventurous and experienced outdoorsman, inspired the climb. Eduardo planned to make the trek in 2013 but unexpectedly passed away a few weeks before. Raul made the climb in his place and was revisiting the experience with the rest of us on our bucket list adventure. We all “Live Like Duda” in Eduardo’s memory.
Mauna Loa is the largest sub-aerial volcano in both mass and volume (13,677 ft). It’s historically been considered the largest volcano on Earth. Weeks and weeks of organizing, applying for permits, gathering equipment, and completing practice hikes went into preparing for the very big trek. Issues about how to manage altitude sickness, the weather, how to carry sufficient water were all addressed. A team of like-minded goal setters, we worked together to address the concerns. As informed as we all were, many of us still shared fears about the potential risks. Three days in remote terrain, far from any immediate aid, unclear on how we would adapt to the conditions, were considerations we all took seriously. When the July weekend finally came, however, everyone was ready and excited.
The ambitious trek was mapped out two days up, one day down, and we were able to stick to the plan. With overnight rests in cabins, hiking time ended up being six hours on day one, 8.5 hours on day two, and 11 hours on day three—42 miles total. It was breathtaking and unbelievably smooth. The combination of amazing terrain, cooperative weather conditions, and a crazily compatible and supportive group of friends made the trip epic.
The whole group was in awe of the visit up to the “quietest spot on earth” (which we managed to fill with chatter and laughter—and a few curses when it was discovered that the distance markers were two miles off!). Feeling exhausted but grateful when we reached the bottom, we also felt tremendously blessed, like we had all received Eduardo’s nod of approval. Thank you, Duda.