While I've camped on a volcano before, I've never actually spent the night inside
one before until now. The Haleakala Summit/ Crater/ Nat'l Park in Maui is what I consider the highlight of the island and a great escape from the heat and humidity below. Haleakala means "House of the Sun", and watching a sunrise or sunset from the 10,000 foot high summit gives you an idea why it was given this name.
During our stay in Maui we drove up the windy highway 3 times, with the last time to catch late afternoon light and a sunset from the crater rim (you can drive right up to the crater rim and summit), so I'll include a few of those photos as well.
First, a few photos taken on the drive to the crater:
Wow lasers! But please, no ion cannons.
West Maui mountains and sugar cane fields.
Plenty of these signs.
Above the clouds
Final stretch before the summit
Some sunset photos from the summit:
Now inside this rather large crater is a network of trails as well as three well equipped cabins that can accomodate up to 12 people at a time. Presently they are 75.00/night regardless of group size and can be reserved here up to 3 months in advance:
On the day of your reserved night of stay, you pick up your permit at the lower visitor center where you also have to watch a short video about the park and proper etiquette, no-trace etc before you can start your trip.
The trailhead, sliding sands trail in our case, begins at a large lower visitor parking lot at roughly 9700 feet.
First though, some shots of what lies below from the crater rim:
Okay, now to the trail itself. We took the sliding sands in, which is the main trail and it's a dusty bear of a trail. Nice and wide, not steep, but quite dusty and alot of loose sand and fine gravel. The trail drops to roughly 7000 feet over the first couple miles where you are then within the crater plateau.
The cabin we are staying in is at the base of the green mouintain center left.
as can be expected, this area is home to some rather unique species of plant and animal life including this silversword plant.
Almost at the base of the crater plateau
Shortly after entering the plateau, we take a small detour trail to the left which skirts around and between a few cinder cones. It's a one mile extra detour to the cabin, but well worth it.
Cinder cones everywhere. With a bit of imagination, one could feel as though this is what it would be like to hike on Mars.
Ah there is our cabin! Within this cabin are 12 bunks with mattresses, a long table with benches, a two burner propane stove, a wood fireplace with a good supply of compressed wood logs to use, a sink with running (non-potable) water and a fully equipped kitchen with pots, towels, pans, dishes, cutlery etc. There's also a picnic table outside.
Time for a beer!
Now this area is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. There were a few stars out, and we thought we'd point them out to you
The surrounding grassy meadow area and the rocks above are home to a number of birds that made rather interesting sounds at night. Kinda different but nonetheless quite soothing. One of those birds is the endangered Nene, which is sort of like a Canada Goose but smaller
and a whole lot friendlier. The Nene is also the state bird of Hawaii.
Sunrise over the clouds. The clouds were always in the distance, looking like they were going to overtake us, but never did.
Heading back out, we were hoping to check out this cool trail and cinder cone, but alas, the trail was closed.
A few clouds did roll in,but quickly cleared up again.
It was a bit of a huff coming back up 3000 feet to the trailhead, but at least our packs were lighter.
If you find yourself in Maui, definitely check out the Haleakala Crater and if you have some time, take a hike into the crater as it is quite the unique place to explore.