Helm Mt Haleakala: Sunset above the Clouds

Mt Haleakala sunset Sunset above the clouds, Mt Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii, USA.

We're disembarking from the 'Pride of America' and we're going to watch the sun set from the rim of a dormant volcano! Mt Haleakala is 10,023 feet (3,055 m) high and accounts for more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. We have been warned that it is very cold and to take hats, scarves and plenty of warm clothing. Our coach is waiting for us right on the dock, that's another brilliant thing about cruising it is so organised.

We clamber aboard the coach with at least 50 other excited guests. I look around and notice not many people have warm clothing, hmmm... I'm quite surprised by this because all the literature stated warm clothing is a must. Oh well maybe I won't need all my wrappings. Then off we go; the driver chats about Hawaii and the history of Maui and how locals rarely if ever head up to the crater because in his words, "it's to damn cold!"

Haleakala Silversword

The access road is steep but well maintained with many switch-backs as it winds its way up the mountain. We eventually reach the visitor center and stop for a rest break and our driver points out the 'Haleakala Silversword', a rare plant almost grazed to extinction.

Leaving the visitor center we join a convoy of coaches heading up to the car park just below the summit. Darren and I are looking forward to this so when the coach stops we head off carrying all our belongings. The air is cool and as we labour up the trail to our vantage point we notice the effects of the thin air, puffing and panting we perch ourselves on a big rock and sit, watch and wait.

Mt Haleakala before sunset

There are a lot of people around us and I am quite glad we staked our claim and have our rock to sit on. It's very surreal standing on the ground looking down at the clouds; the sun shining brightly and feeling so cold. Some people have realised the mistake of not bringing warm clothing and head back to the comfort of the coach even before the sunset starts. I'm so cold I wear a spare pair of socks as gloves as I could hardly feel my fingers. Darren is running around from rock to rock with his camera, seemly oblivious to the dropping temperature, but he's in his element.

After a while the sun begins its descent and the golden glow lights up the clouds. If the people that left earlier thought it was cold then they would have been frozen solid if they'd stayed. In the distance the silhouette of the 'Haleakala High Altitude Observatory' appears tiny compared to the vastness of the clouds. The view is awesome! I have forgotten about the cold and I'm just enjoying the moment, I mean how great is it that we can now say we sat on the rim of a volcano in Hawaii and watched the sun set below the clouds? The sun disappears and darkness begins to descend, I turn around and I notice everyone has gone, we are all alone, no one else has stayed to watch the sun go down. I'm so glad we heeded the warning to 'rug up'.

Mt Haleakala High Altitude Observatory

I say to Darren come on we had better head down we are the only people left up here and it's getting dark. He replied, "Just a couple of minutes more..." somehow he knew the show wasn't over. Two minutes later the sun bursts through from below the clouds lighting up the sky like it was on fire, Darren took a couple of photographs then came and sat with me. At this point in time we are alone and higher than all the other people on Maui, sitting above the clouds on the rim of a dormant volcano watching the sun put on a show just for us... this is a magnificent experience I will remember for ever."

Mt Haleakala after sunset

Realizing the light would fade quickly and the dark of the night would set in we scurried back down the trail. When we arrived and climbed back on board the coach there are a lot of angry faces glaring at us... yes we were 'that' couple. Apparently they'd all had enough and just wanted to go back to the ship. So after another head count (and the missing couple accounted for) the coach heads off switching its way back and forth down the mountain returning to the warmth and comfort of the ship.

By Karen McGlade

 

COMMENTS ( 2 )


  1. gravatar Kerri
    July, 2014 at 07:16:16 PM
     
    We went for the sun rise, but the photos of the sunset look spectacular. I remember how cold it was, love the shot with the 'bonds' socks as mittens.
     
     
    • gravatar Karen
      July, 2014 at 07:27:38 PM
       
      Sooo glad I had the socks with me... my hands were freezing!
       
       

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Karen

Hello, my name is Karen and I'm a cruise-a-holic. I'm married to my wonderful husband Darren and we have 3 gorgeous kids, (not that I'm biased by any stretch of the imagination).

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