I consider Haleakalā a true force of nature, with a magic and energy all its own. I’m from Maui, and admittedly it took me too many years before I actually experienced the power of our island’s highest point, more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Now I do it as often as I can!
A Solar Sensation
Translated as “House of the Sun,” Haleakalā is a unique, unforgettable place. The dormant volcano allows for amazing views of the island on clear days; I’ve been there for both sunrise and sunset (sometimes in the same day, with a hike in between) — both can be sensational!!
Mooning Over the Moon
Clear nights are another incredible story altogether. It’s such a peaceful place to get a closer look at the magnificent moon, even to hike beneath the full moon’s light if you’re feeling brave — I’ve done the 11-mile stretch more than once!
The Art of Astro
Going up there one time during a new moon simply to stargaze spurred such inspiration, I was motivated to learn more about astrophotography. To encounter a vast, vibrant blanket of stars sprinkled across a dark sky, to feel like you can see the depth and texture of constellations, to get a chance to showcase the galactic core of the Milky Way in all its cosmic glory — these experiences are truly special.
Something New to See at Every Angle
Inside the crater, you’ll see desolate landscapes that sometimes seem Mars-like, dotted with cinder cones and striated with colors of red and black rock, mixed with white pumice stone. As a stark contrast, the terrain gets wet and lush if you head toward Palikū in the Kipahulu District. All of it is brings a sense of wonder, as I’m humbled by the power of this place when I hike.
The Power of Palikū
An epic journey all its own heads out to Palikū, at the base of a rainforest cliff. It sits at more than 6,300 feet in elevation, on the east end of the wilderness valley. To get there, it’s a strenuous 9.3 mile hike on the Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) Trail or 10.4 miles on the Halemauʻu Trail — mind you, that’s one way.
Clouds and fog often roll over the top of the cliffs behind Palikū, and rain is common, which makes this area especially lush and cool, but can also mean gnarly and fast-forming weather events! In fact, I was in the midst of one of those on New Year’s Day 2021 and it ended up being one of the craziest — yet most rewarding — experiences of my life. I’ll share some personal stories in a future blog!
Preserving Precious Plants & Wildlife
You’ll find more endangered species here than any other park in the National Park Service, like nēnē — the Hawaiian goose; rarest in the world and our state bird — and the mysterious ‘ahinahina — silversword plants, which grow only on Hawai‘i’s highest peaks and nowhere else on earth!
The Incredible Crater
I hope you enjoy seeing these photos as much as I enjoyed gathering them. Sometimes the treks were long, sometimes the weather was wild, but up there it was always worth the time and energy spent. Haleakalā holds a special spot in my soul, and it’s the place I go to reconnect to my center, align with the earth’s energy and relish in the “sound” of silence!!