Voices in the Dark

I live on the Big Island of Hawaii, some 2700 miles away from any Mainland area…the most remote island in the world.  Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are both nearly 14,000 feet tall and isolated from any city lights.  I often go up those mountains to areas that are between 8000 feet and 14,000 feet, to photograph the amazing Milky Way.  About half the time, I do this alone.  One of the spots I go to is 18 miles away from the main road…absolutely nothing around and you can see anything coming for at least those 18 miles.

On multiple occasions, while doing my photographs at between 8000 feet and 11,000 feet, I hear very distinct voices in the dark.  Hawaii has lots of legends and stories and many of them are about things that happen in the night…so those are rattling around in my head when I hear the voices.  And, no, I do not need meds…these are absolutely not voices in my head…the other voices in my head want me to mention that to you.  These are real, live, male voices…fairly close and very spooky.

I heard them again last night.  You can see in the attached photo how dark it was last night…just a tiny bit of light from Hilo some 40 miles away.  The area in front of me is an extremely rough lava field, not a place you would want to be wandering around in the dark.  But the voices were there…they seemed to be about two hundred yards in front of me.

As with some spooky encounters I have had on Mauna Loa (this photo is from Mauna Kea), I tried to shout to the voices to see what they were up to….no answer ever.  Instead, the voices continue their conversation…back and forth….many of the words and sentences I can hear and some are just sound.  And they often go on and on…hours in some cases.

I don’t spook easily and I am prepared to defend myself in necessary.  On only one occasion did I let the voices get to me and I then packed up my gear and headed home.  The rest of the time I just treat them as background noise.

When I was a kid, I lived on a hill in Palos Verdes Estates, California.  The beach was probably five miles away from my house.  Yet, on certain summer nights, I could hear voices from the beach…the wind carrying them up to me on a warm summer night.  I suspect something similar high in the mountains here in Hawaii.  Both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa have facilities at the summit.  Mauna Kea has a number of observatories and quite a few people up there at night.  Mauna Loa has a cabin that hikers can stay in if the weather gets bad up there or if they need to rest and hike back down the next day.  What I suspect is that I am hearing voices from those summit people…being carried down hill on the wind and reflecting off of the hard lava and into my ears.  When I try to communicate back, I am literally shouting into the wind and they can not hear me.  That is what I have figured out…and, true or not, it gives me some comfort to feel that I am not in any danger.

So, if you ever get the chance to see our amazing Milky Way above the Big Island of Hawaii, keep your ears as open as your eyes.