Thursday, May 8, 2008

Journey to the House of the Sun


This is view from the summit of Haleakala on the Island of Maui looking down on the cloud cover below. It's a two hour drive from the coast to get to the summit. For an admitted acrophobic - its the longest two hour driver ever taken. And upon my arrival to the top -- I felt an immediate evolutionary connection to my quadruped ancestors and emulated their carriage perfectly. I even used my toes to hold on. A 50 mph wind is always a nice mountain-top touch for an closed-eyed, white-knuckled acrophobic.

Haleakala means "House of the Sun" - looking toward the east its possible to watch the sun rise from below (if you start your journey from coastal Maui at 3:30 am). Haleakala is a dormant volcano and at 10,023 feet above sea level - the tallest peak on the island of Maui. This crater is large enough to contain the entire island of Manhattan. It is 7.5 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and 3000 feet deep. Within the crater are nine cinder cones -- the largest more than a 1000 feet high.

Lush Hawaiian rain forests flank the summit midway through the drive and the birding is superb. I didn't see the infamous nene goose this day - but I did sight the beautifully plumed and rare 'apapane in the Hosmer Grove Forest.

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