Every year when I return home to Maui, I intend to hike Haleakala Crater. The last time I did the 12 miles down sliding sands and up Switch Backs was 20+ years ago with my husband. This time, my longtime friends Mike Waltze and Carol Aldred were totally up for the last-minute idea to hike the crater.
We arrived in the morning at the 10,023 foot dormant volcano, and was greeted by an old friend who planned to begin his hike where we would end ours. He kindly let us drive his car up to the next parking lot where we would begin down the Sliding Sands trail. It was great to see him along the way and stop for a chat and a snack.
Starting at at the Haleakala Visitor Center at approximately 9740 feet elevation, we began our hike down the Keonehe`ehe`e
Trail (Sliding Sands Trail). It’s much easier to hike down this trail than back up at the end of the 12 mile hike.
We had heard the Silversword (‘ahinahina) were actively blooming but had no idea there would be so many! It was a treat to see them gathered together welcoming us like old friends as we passed by. The Silversword only grows above 7000 feet elevation and bloom only once in their lifetime. They can live more than 90 years. Really quite amazing to see in person.
Along the way we saw this pair of endangered Nēnē (Hawaiian Goose) just off the trail we were traveling on. We didn’t want to bother them so I took a photo and moved right along. They blend in perfectly with the terrain.
Once we reached the Holua Cabin (6940 feet elevation), we took off our backpacks and shoes and kicked back for awhile as Mike set up my GoPro Hero3 for a time-lapse.
After some snacks and water, we packed our gear and headed for Switchbacks.
As I hiked, I began to remember how tough this trail could be. When we reached the top, I felt exhausted but energized all at the same time.
A note about footwear. I forgot my Ahnu Sugarpine hiking boots and began the hike in a pair of boots from a friend. After a couple of miles I was hurting. I am SO glad I brought these Ahnu Tildens and a pair of black socks in my backpack. We had no rain so my feet were awesomely comfortable for the next 10 miles. It’s all about the footwear in the crater!
As I watched the sunset I felt so grateful to spend the day in such an incredible place with two wonderful good friends. I look forward to returning to Maui and hiking Haleakala again!
Big Mahalo to Verizon Wireless for providing me with the amazing Nokia Lumia Icon to capture these images.
You can find more info about Haleakala National Park at the National Park Service website.