An experienced hiker returns to the biggest volcano on Earth, and finds himself stranded and hallucinating in a Hawaiian snowstorm:
Broward arrived at the Visitor Emergency Operations Center, a long brown building near Mauna Loa’s southern base, at about 8 a.m. He strolled down a hallway, past his office and up into the dispatch center, perched above the first-floor roof like an air-traffic-control room. He picked up a fax with a 3:17 a.m. timestamp.
It was an advisory from the National Weather Service. A storm was on the way that would hit the summit with a foot of snow, temperatures in the 20s, and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. Broward had worked at the park for 13 years and he saw two or three of these storms every winter. He plugged the forecast data into a threat-level chart, which confirmed what he already knew: Conditions were in the Red Zone. The park would be closed for the day. He told the dispatcher to spread the word, then checked the backcountry permit records. There was someone on the mountain: Alex Sverdlov, age 36, had left on Sunday and was scheduled to return on Wednesday. Broward knew the hiker would be at or near the summit when the storm hit.