As temps drop at Mauna Kea, protesters hunker down for a long winter

An inside look at the encampment at the base of Mauna Kea

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been nearly four months since protesters set up camp at Mauna Kea to block the Thirty Meter Telescope and protect against what they call desecration of the mountain.

The government has said they're illegally blocking the road while the activists message continues to spread.

From the bird's eye view up Puuhuluhulu, one can see how the encampment has changed.

In July, there were hundreds of cars that lined Daniel K. Inouye Highway or Saddle Road plus many pop up tents.

Photo taken on day four of the TMT protest.
Photo taken on day four of the TMT protest.

Now there are fewer cars, tents and no masses of people, but the tents are sturdier event tents with poles and extra tarps.

It’s the middle of the week and renown Hawaiian cultural practitioners lead the roughly 50 people gathered for noon protocol at Puuhonua o Puuhuluhulu.

On Tuesday, there were high profile visitors, Hilo natives Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals and his brother Kean who had that day been traded to the San Francisco Giants.

"This was right in the middle of our season. I wasn't able to come back and participate in all this and fight for these people and fight for this for mauna," said Kolten Wong.

Bird's eye view from Puuhuluhulu taken on day 117 of protest.
Bird's eye view from Puuhuluhulu taken on day 117 of protest. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

"I feel blessed to be able to have a team to go to and come here and see what it's like," said Kean Wong.

The activists have supply tents where everything is donated. There are fleece jackets, heating lamps, batteries, sleeping bags, tents and tarps.

Tuesday’s weather was pleasant and in the 80′s, but things can dramatically change with sudden winds and activists say temperatures can get down to the 30′s in the middle of the night.

Kaneohe resident and veteran Cheyenne Turalde has lived in a framed tent since July when his brother Keoni was arrested in his wheelchair along with 37 others.

He keeps warm with lots of layers and a heat lamp and says enduring the weather is worth it.

“Just by supporting the people of Mauna Kea. That’s what I’m here for,” said Turalde.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.