Distance: Drive up
Summit Elevation: 10023'
Elevation Gain: 0'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0
Round trip time: 0 minutes
Recommended water: 0 oz.
Parking/Fees: $20 National Parks (good for three days)
The family weighed the pros and cons of the road to Hana or the Haleakala crater and decided on the crater. Haleakala is a giant shield volcano, and the highest point on Maui. It makes up more than half of the island. All the Hawaiian islands are made of clots of earth blood. Tourists usually drive up in the early morning to catch the sunrise. With the weather questionable in the morning, we decided for a sunset trip. Rain in Lahaina stopped late morning, and in the afternoon we began the scenic drive. However, the wet side of the island was still covered in clouds and drizzle and so was the lower part of the mountain. Everything was surprisingly green, with shrubs and trees I didn't recognize. Around 6000', we broke out of the lower cloud cover into a dry zone, but there were higher clouds above. By the time we hit 7000', we were back in clouds and drizzle that stayed with us all the way to the summit.
Red and black volcanic rock dominated the last 2000' of the drive as vegetation dwindled. It was about 40F on the summit and we layered up, even if it was only for a short visit. I found a reference mark and the benchmark from the Army Corps of Engineers. The benchmark was not at the high point, but just off the sidewalk. The crater and valley were filled with clouds. Visibility was low. We didn't get our sunset views, but we did see some native silversword plants and stopped for two nene crossing the road on the way down. The Hawaiian nene is a small goose native to the local islands with striking black and white coloring. We also had to stop for cows in the road, which apparently have free reign on the mountain for grazing.
Haleakala, HI Redux