Homage to Haleakala

Almost one year ago Scott, Gracie and I attended a mini family reunion in Maui.  Scott and I have taken the girls several times and there was only one thing left on our bucket list…. Sunrise on Haleakala!

I was going to do this thing!  My enthusiasm was met with “We will see,” and “Not sure I want to get up that early.”  I get it.  We planned to hit the road at 3:am to get there, it was a long drive down the coast, across the island, along the flats and then up the mountain!  In the end Scott and Gracie humored me, Nancy and Alice agreed to go as well, we were a full carload.

I was prepared for this!  I took the advice of all the reviewers, packed warm clothes, a thermos of coffee as well as a bag of muffins and cinnamon rolls.  We were going to have breakfast on the summit of a volcano!

We were pretty proud of ourselves hitting the road by 3:20, but that was still 20 minutes later than I had planned.  That twitchy, anxious clock watcher in me kicked in and I stressed for the next two and half hours that we were not going to make it for the 5:30 sunrise.

I was right to be worried.  After 45 minutes or so we pulled off the main highway and headed toward the mountain.  A steady stream of cars appeared from nowhere and we were in a traffic jam.  Granted, it was a steadily moving traffic jam, but slower than my timeline had adjusted for.

I guess I should not have been surprised by the park gate.  But I was.  It was a national park, they all have them.  But this meant that this steady stream of cars had to stop… one-by-one and pay the park fee.  To top this off, the park fee could only be paid with a credit card, and we had to wait while a few drivers argued this point, backed up and headed back down the mountain.

Be sure to bring a credit card

Finally we cleared the gate and headed toward the summit.  Let me give you a clear picture of what that means.  A windy, narrow road with cliffs plummeting beside you.  Oh.  And in complete inky darkness.  Now we were grateful for the stream of cars, we could see the zig-zagging path stretch ahead of us for what seemed a VERY LONG distance.

It was about this time that I started my “We are going to miss it,” tirade.  Groaning I sat back against the car seat and watched the seconds tick on my watch.  It was agony for me and I guess it wasn’t too fun for the others in the car.  Sorry, I say sheepishly.

Just in case you are worried, we did not miss it.  I am sure those behind us missed it, but we did not.  We were directed into a parking lot, me completely second guessing the lot attendant, but he was right, go figure.  We parked and using our phones as flashlights, practically ran to the edge of the caldera.  I had not expected so many people, but there is a wide path and lots of places to view, we quickly found a spot next to a fun and chatty group of people.

The clouds started to glow, and then the tiniest pinprick of fire appeared.  It was absolutely silent, the crowd almost reverent as the sun rose, glowing spectacularly.  The single voice of someone singing traditional Hawaiian songs floated from somewhere below us.  I was a little distracted when the group next me became noisy and rowdy and was going to ask them to be quiet when I realized that one of the young men had just dropped to his knee in front of family and friends and proposed to a beautiful young woman.  I clapped like I was part of the family!

If you asked me to describe sunrise on Haleakala, I would simply say, it is magical.

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