Thursday, September 5, 2013

Haleakala - Up the Crater We Go!

August 30, 2013
Haleakala National Park, East Maui

While planning our Hawaiian getaway, we decided that we wanted to witness the sunrise from the top of Maui's volcanic crater, Haleakala.  A co-worker of Scott's recommended that we partake of this particular adventure early on in our trip while our bodies were still on California time, making it a little easier to get up and venture out in the middle of the night.  So on our first full day on Maui, we set off  from our hotel at 3:45 am in order to make the hour-and-a-half drive up the crater in time to enjoy the pre-dawn show at the top, beginning at about 5 am, an hour before sunrise.  We packed up all the winter gear we could manage, since we knew it would be cold at the top, and headed off into the dark.

After the long walk just to get to the hotel parking garage and a stop for muffins at the 24-hour Foodland, we didn't quite make it up the windy roads and to the jam-packed parking lots as early as we'd hoped, but seeing the sunrise at 10,000 feet from amongst the clouds was quite a spectacle.

Sunrise over Haleakala
Although prepared for winter conditions of a sort, we were not prepared for the whipping winds that accompanied the chilly temps.  If nothing more, do yourself a favor and bring a serious winter hat, should you ever find yourself on this pre-dawn excursion.  

Braving the cold and whipping winds at Haleakala Summit
 Most of the blanket-, towel- and hotel robe-clad tourists (some even in shorts and sandals) who had joined us at the crater top made a mass exodus immediately following the main event, but, being somewhat appropriately dressed, we stuck around and hiked a short way down the main trail into the crater.  The morning light and shadows at that elevation were in some ways as spectacular as the sunrise itself and the air warmed quickly as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Hiking into the crater in the early morning light

And as an added bonus, we were back at the resort by 9:30, in time to get good chairs at the pool.

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