Sunday, September 14 –
The next morning we woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 a.m. to get ready for an epic adventure. A bus picked us up around 4 a.m. and we picked up others from nearby resorts. We drove up to Mount Haleakala, the largest mountain on the island.
Haleakala is a massive volcano that forms more than 75 percent of the island. The western part of the island we toured yesterday is formed by another volcano called Kahalawai. Haleakala, means “house of the sun,” which is an appropriate name for what we were about to witness. Our van winded more than 10,000 feet up a road to the summit at 10,023 feet (3,055 m). After entering the national park near the summit, we arrived at dark in a parking lot. We walked out to an overlooked and looked east as a tiny sliver of light appeared on the horizon. It was the sun!A purple sky turned orange as the sun dramatically rose above distant horizon. We could billowing clouds down below us hugging the sides of the mountain like cotton. By far the most memorable sunrise I have ever seen. It made me think of the Beatles song, “House of the Rising Sun.” It was worth waking up so early!
After enjoying sunrise, we entered the visitor center to see some exhibits. Outside from an observation area, we peered 2,600 feet down into a massive depression about seven miles across and two miles wide. We could see all the way down into because the clouds obscured it. It almost looked like a lunar surface with the barren and crater-like terrain.
Across the parking lot stood “Science City,” an astrophysical observatory operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, University of Hawaii, Smithsonian Institution and others. Scientists use huge telescopes at the site to study the universe. It’s an ideal location due to the clarity of the sky above the area and an absence of light.
Then we each mounted some hybrid bikes with special brake pads to descend 10,000 feet down the volcano to the beaches below. What a rush and with great stops along the way! Eventually we descended below the clouds, which was quite a peculiar thing cycling through clouds. When arrived at the bottom, we cycled to a village where we put our bikes in the trailer and stopped for lunch. What an experience!
After going back to the resort for a brief nap, we enjoyed the beach again. That evening we decided to visit Duke’s Maui location in Lahaina. I had some barbecue ribs which were to die for. Of course, I had hula pie one last time!