Monday, November 24, 2014

Visiting Lake Waiau

Two weeks ago some friends from work and I took a trip to the summit of Mauna Kea to see Lake Waiau. It's been three and a half years since the last time I saw it, back in February 2011. It was interesting to go back and see my pictures from that trips, since the lake was a bit smaller back then. I've put two pictures from the two trips together below for comparison:

Lake Waiau in February 2011.

Lake Waiau in November 2014 (sorry for the poor quality, only put this up for the comparison).
Interestingly, in between these two photos, the lake pretty much dried up over the summer of 2014. I regrettably never got around to seeing it in that state, but I heard from multiple people that it was little more than a puddle. Mauna Kea got a lot of rain in the last few months, though, due to a few winter storms (and Hurricane Iselle, which dropped a lot of rain).

One thing I noticed while skimming my post from the last trip was that I mentioned the hypothesis I'd read about that Lake Waiau was fed by melting permafrost. Given how the lake dried up over the summer (coinciding with the culmination of a long period of very dry weather both for Mauna Kea and the island of Hawaiʻi), I think we can consider that hypothesis pretty much busted. Looks like it does depend on precipitation after all!

This next picture is a panorama taken from down closer to the lake. It was really peaceful when we got down there, down in the bowl of Puʻu Waiau. It was a beautiful day, blue skies, scattered high clouds, bright sun, gently rippling lake…very idyllic. The peak in the background is Puʻu Poliʻahu, which currently has no telescopes but was the site of the very first telescope on Mauna Kea all the way back in 1964, fifty years ago.

Can you spot the two tourists visible in this picture? (On top of the rim at the far right of the picture.)
I also got a picture of coworker Graham getting his own photos of the lake. I like the composition of this picture.


And a close-up picture of the lake's rippling surface just because I like it:


On the way up the mountain we stopped at the Visitor Information Station to acclimate (as you should), and I took the opportunity to visit the silversword enclosure to see how they were doing. Sometime in the interval between the last time I visited and now a bunch of new seedlings were planted, which were visible all though the enclosure. Some of the mature plants I remembered from last time had grown even larger, and looked even more amazing. Here's one, with a close-up of one of the rosettes below:

A mature silversword plant, with a whole bunch of rosettes.

Close up of one of the rosettes.
They really are amazing plants. Wish I could grow one as a houseplant, but c’est la vie. A hui hou!

1 comment:

  1. That would be a really great houseplant. But it would probably be a shock to the poor plant even if it was allowed. How do you acclimate a high altitude, sun-loving plant to a sea level living room? Surely is a beautiful plant.

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