Alex takes a rest at 10,035 feet outside Red Hill Cabin, the first stop on our hike up Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world. The attentive viewer will notice the etchings in the cabin door, which read "Mars Hotel" and "When the going gets tough, the going get warm".
Once you're above the cloud-line, the sun can do a number on you, but come nightfall, temperatures can get dangerously low (it snows regularly in the winter). The night before our final decent, we stayed at Red Hill once more. All was quiet. The moon pierced my eyes so I couldn't sleep. It must have been two in the morning when we heard heavy footsteps and the creak of the door... who on mars could it be? It was desolate out there; we hadn't seen another soul for two days and 23 miles.
Alex later said he'd feared it was an axe murderer, but it turned out to be a hypothermic German hiker who had gotten lost near the summit and had walked 11 miles over 14 hours overnight. He'd lost his jacket and his light - using only the moonlight to guide him... and it was his first hike! Just to be clear, the terrain is a never-ending expanse of black, jagged rock, and the trail is marked by other black rocks. His friends had gone ahead of him to the summit cabin (only 2 miles away) and as it got dark he got disoriented and headed down the slope instead, fearing that if he didn't keep moving, he would die.
The next morning we tried frantically to contact his friends, though no-one had reception but me at the top of the hill (pictured) and I couldn't connect to the Swiss phone number. Then I remembered: I have a calling-card! But it wasn't on me.
Completely flustered, I remember it in a flash and with my battery light blinking I dial 1-800...
It rings, a sultry voice says: Hey baby, my sexy girlfriends and I are anxiously waiting to talk LIVE to you...
Ahh!! Did I just call a sex chat-line?! I did! On top of a volcano, with a dying phone and at this crucial moment!
I dial again.
Hey baby, my sexy girlfriends and--
Ahh!! Ok, Nasuna, you can do this. Eventually I remembered the right number and in the end we escorted him down. He was reunited with his friends (scoundrels) and the search party was called off.
... but not before I got a text message which read: Hey Stud - Our busty babes are waiting for your call.
You can view a wider shot from outside the cabin in a previous post here: http://nasuna.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/red-ant-hill-2/