Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maui Day Trip to Haleakala

The day we decided to drive up to Haleakala was one of those perfect Maui days with clear blue skies and perfect wind conditions.
On the way, we drove through Kula on the Old Haleakala Highway and marvelled at the green lush fields which are such a contrast to the ocean side property where we are staying. It wasn't hard to picture in our minds the paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) rounding up their herds or checking their fences in this wonderful up-country place.

As we made our accent up the curvy narrow road, the terrain changed again to brush and lava rock, reminiscent of the eruption of the volcano, so long ago. When we stopped the car to enjoy the breathtaking view down towards the ocean and city, it was chilly and we were grateful that we had brought along some warm clothing.

We found out that it was wise to go pretty slowly along the windy road, as we met vehicles, bikers and even large buses heading back down. When we arrived at the entrance to Haleakala State Park we had to pay a $10 fee which is a seven day pass to the park. That means if you go to Hana within 7 days, your pass will get you into the seven pools which are also part of the state park on the other side of the mountain. We finally got to the visitors centre and mistakenly thought we were almost there. It turns out that there are quite a few hiking trails before and at the summit, if it is your bag to explore some of the flora and fauna of the area. There are also Wilderness Area Hikes, and even overnight camping if you get a permit

It seemed to take forever but finally we neared the summit and huge parking lot. If we thought it was a bit chilly when we stopped on the way, it was freezing now. It probably felt even colder to us because we had been living in 85 degree weather after escaping winter in Canada.

Chukar Partridge
Silversword Plant
Summit of Mt. Haleakala
So with chattering teeth we made our way to the look out, with spectacular views of the crater and informative signs. After taking lots of photos we made our way to the very top where there are even more views on the opposite side down towards Kihei. Here there are also some of the silversword plants which are indigenous to this altitude. Hoping to get a glimpse of the rare Nene bird which is the Hawaii state bird, we saw instead an interesting bird which we found out was a Chukar Partridge, introduced to the US from its native Pakistan.
It was no wonder that we felt the cold, because the altitude at the summit of Mount Haleakala is 10,023 feet

Horse trail ride into the crater
There are some great hikes into the crater, if you are dressed warmly, and also you can take a horse trail ride if you are game. Another fun thing to try is the bike down Haleakala, which is offered by several local companies. My daughter and husband are coming to Maui in May and plan to ride up the mountain. They are triathletes so maybe they won't have any problem. I personally couldn't even begin to imagine biking up hill for such a long way, but hey "each to his own" I say. After we had shivered enough we got back in the car and made our way downhill to Paia where we stopped for a great lunch at Charlie's before returned home to Kihei.

A trip to Haleakala is definitely a worthwhile day trip on your Maui vacation.  For more information go to the website of  Haleakala State Park.

Be sure to make your base at one of the many Maui Vacation Rentals on the island.

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