Mark Twain called the sunrise on Haleakala Volcano, “The sublimest spectacle I’ve ever witnessed.” Hawaiians have been trekking up Haleakala to honor and celebrate the gods for hundreds of years. It was considered a sacred place, called wao akua, wilderness of the gods. Its eerie and otherworldly feel as the sun peaks over the rim and lights the crater below is an experience that you will always treasure.
We were staying in Lahaina on the island of Maui. During our two-week stay, a trip to the top to see the famed sunrise was a must. It takes about an hour to drive up the 10,023’ summit. Plan your trip to arrive at the summit between four and 4:40 am. Plan ahead for food and gas, as neither is available in the 30,183 acre park. It gets very cold and windy as the top so dress accordingly, as I was one layer light I would recommend winter coats, hats and gloves. The best view in your car is the lot on the left. This has to go down as one of the best ten-dollar national park values. Just before the sun splashed over the crater rim, a group broke out in a Hawaiian song to celebrate the dawn as a new day. In Hawaiian folklore, the crater at the top was home to the grandmother of the demigod, Maui. Maui’s grandmother helped him capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day. It was also Maui of legend who pulled up the island chain we call Hawaii with his skillfully made fishhook and lure.
Rare species of Silversword is fragile and lives only up the Slopes of Haleakala. The summit is also great for ground-based telescopes because of its clarity, dryness, and stillness of air. Cycling and horseback riding are other popular ways of seeing the sights on the volcano, with the Haleakala Bike Co. offering rentals and tour options for riding down from the summit.
May 18, 2013