Sunday, August 17, 2014

Maui Adventures: The Really Long Haleakala Hike

I moved to Maui in November of 2013.   I'm on a mission to explore my new home!
Here's one of my Maui Adventures:

Prior to moving to Maui, I had been to the island of Maui exactly once.   And I'm pretty sure that we tried to put as much activity into three days as we could.   Luau?  Check.   Whale watching?  Of course.   Getting up in the middle of the night to ride bikes down Haleakala after sunrise?  Who wouldn't?   Snorkeling? Bring it on.

Halekala is not feature that you can ignore on Maui.   It is the prominent feature on the other side of the island.    All those upcountry adventures that I've gone on?  (this one, that one, and the one involving goats).   How do you think upcountry gets its  name?   It's on the side of the volcano.

And the volcano is the reason this piece of paradise exists in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

One of my friends here loves to hike.   In fact, she just came into my office this week, asked if I wanted to go hiking and then said "how's your upper body strength?"  Um.

Not sure if I'm ready for a hike that has that as a prerequisite, although it's probably awesome.

The hike we took at Haleakala National Park is a combination of different trails that becomes a 11.5 mile hike down, through, and up out of the crater.     This handy map was something I only looked at after we were done.  It was probably better that way.

We parked one car at the Halemau'u (Park Rd) trail head, and then drove up to the summit and parked the other car and embarked on our journey on the Sliding Sands Trail.

You start the hike by descending into the crater.    The 'ahinahina, the Halekakala silversword, is a unique and endangered plant to the park that can live for up to 90 years, but only blooms once.   We were fortunate to see many of the silverswords in bloom.          

The landscape during the first part of the hike could be something like hiking on the moon.   
It looks so different than anywhere else.  Amazing.

After hiking 3.9 miles into the crater you turn left.    Seriously.  
See that cone in the picture above?    You'll be a lot closer to it.

The hike continues through the red sand for another few miles.    Then the geography starts to change as you hike towards Holua cabin.

No longer looking like the moon...

At the cabin, you are about 2/3 of the way through the hike.   Of course, the remainder of the trail goes up. Switchbacks, naturally.    From the cabin back to the second car, it's about 1000 feet of elevation gain. It was a little rainy and misty by the time we were making our ascent.    

Climbing, climbing, climbing the switchbacks

But I did find out where, exactly, the red fern grows.  

It was a fantastic hike, and I would do it again.

Our Haleakala Hiking Crew

Things to know:

  • Roads in Maui are windy with low speed limits - it will always take you longer to get where you're going if you're comparing it driving on the interstate back home
  • It's $10 per car and your entry is good for 3 days
  • The summit is 10,000 feet.   It will be cool at night and in the morning.  You're also closer to the sun, so you need to slather on that sunscreen.
  • Bring layers of clothes, you will want to start this hike early before it gets too hot.   You'll want hiking boots or tennis shoes for the hike, and a pair of slippers (flip flops) to slide your tired feet in after your hike is over.
  • Pack it in and pack it out - there are no trash cans on the hike
  • Bring plenty of water - when you realize you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated
  • For more information about Haleakala National Park, click here
  • For a trail map, click here

Have you hiked Haleakala?

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