Maui trip August 2006. Part 4 Haleakala Sunset

Summit Area –
No place you have ever been can prepare you for the experiences and feelings you will have on the summit of Haleakala volcano. The landscape – deeply sculpted, richly colored, and intensely evocative will be unlike any landscape you have known. Visually expansive, the summit area continually eludes any attempt to understand its scale or dimensions.
You may spend a few hours hiking in the cinder desert landscape, or a few minutes looking for native birds in the shrubland – whatever you choose to do, you will do it surrounded by native Hawaiian plants and animals. The mountain summit is one of the only easily-accessible areas of Hawaii where our rare and endemic species survive and thrive.
Already impressive in the light of day, the summit takes on a new dimension at night when the darkness reveals the brilliant night sky.

On the advice of a couple of free guide magazines we decided to avoid the over crowding of tourist at sunrise and drive to the top of Haleakala for sunset. Denise said that she would drive the treacherous road which starts at sea level and travels up to 10,000 feet elevation. The road is about 26 miles long and is extremely zig zaggy, narrow and scary! I asked her if she was sure she wanted to drive back down in the dark and showed her how the road looked on the map. There is open range for a good part of the 26 miles. That meant cows on the side of the road and in the road. They were darned hard to see coming down in the dark.

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When we got to about 6,500 feet I told Denise that I had never been car sick in my life but thought that I was going to throw up. Being the nurse that she is she told me to take deep breathes through my nose and exhale out my mouth. Then she told me that they tell the patients at her hospital that they don’t allow throwing up in their hospital. The queasiness passed and I was better.
We finally arrived at the top of the crater a bit before sunset. It was 54 degrees. We knew to bring sweatshirts since it would be much cooler than at sea level. We walked around for a little and then watched as the sun began to set.
I wanted to shout “Get off the freaking edge of the crater you idiots!” There were plenty of them walking backwards toward the edge to get in place for photos. I have never been afraid of heights but this was scary. (I rode the rides at the 92nd floor of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas after all)

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A great sunset that looked like we were on an airplane since we were above the clouds.

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We barely had started the decline when I got real queasy again. I told Denise I didn’t want to freak her out but I needed to close my eyes. After the queasiness passed I was able to look down at the twinkling lights far below. Again this was like a view from an airplane. Then I was on cow watch so Denise could keep her eyes on the road.
Once we got back to sea level and the nearest restaurant for dinner and a drink Denise threw the car keys at me and said she was done driving and felt like her eyes were falling out of her head.
Haleakala was great. I am glad we made the trip as it will probably be the only time I do it.

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