Haleakala is the House of the Rising Sun – literally. The sunrises are of such an epic magnitude that they draw people to get up at ridiculous o’ clock at night to drive up its endless winding hairpin roads to the summit, braving dizzying steep drop-offs, in order to gawk over the ethereal beauty of its caldera when the sun slowly lights up and paints it in otherworldly colours.
Haleakala crater hike
I would have loved to walk across the caldera and explore its countless craters & cinder cones. But unfortunately it was so windy that morning that I would probably have been blown across it like a tumbling weed.
Steep ridges and weaving clouds
So I decided to go to the lower & less windy end instead, where the walking track from the summit emerges at Halemau’u. I wandered along steep ridges, while the track was frequently engulfed by foggy clouds weaving in and out of the caldera. But when they lift, you will be rewarded with some truly breathtaking views. It all adds to the mysterious beauty of this epic mountain.
NaturePic Challenge – Mountains & Volcanoes # 2: Haleakala, Maui (Hawaii)
Sunrise into the Ko’olau Gap caldera.
Rows of craters and cinder cones.
The walking track at Halemau’u, at the lower end of the Ko’olau Gap caldera.
Hair-raising hairpin roads in the sky!
How to get to Haleakala
You can reach the summit of Haleakala by taking Road 37 from the coastal town of Kahului, leading to Road 377, and finally driving up the steep curvy Road 378 to the visitor center at the top. To indicate the mind-boggling steepness, this takes you from sea level to an altitude of 3000 meters within a straight distance of roughly 20 kilometers. The road distance itself is about 60 kilometers. But you will need at least 2 hours to precariously crawl up to the top.
Silvery pre-sunrise light.
Unfortunately, things have gotten quite busy in the meantime. Since 1 February 2017, reservations are required to go into the summit area between 03.00 and 07.00 hrs to watch the sunrise.
The Halemau’u Trailhead is about 11 kilometers down the road from the top, at an altitude of 2438 meters in the Haleakala Wilderness Area. Be sure to bring plenty of water – and a Wilderness Coffee 😉
(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
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