Winterwonderland Hawaii: Hiking through a Volcano

December 20:

After a good night’s sleep, we followed Steve and Kory’s invitation and joined the two and Valentin for breakfast. Kory whipped up scrambled eggs, blueberry pancakes, and cut open a strawberry papaya. It was divine and having breakfast with a happy group was fun. We sat together for a little longer and chatted. Soon after, we had to pack up the tent and say goodbye. On the way out, Valentin introduced us to Alice, from Australia and her friend from Italy, whose name I unfortunately forgot. The two are in Vancouver for a year as exchange students. Afterwards, we started our drive up to our next camping ground. And I wrote up because it was on about 7,000 feet. It is located at about two thirds up the way to the crater of the Haleakala Volcano. Luckily, you do not need a permit to camp at this camping ground, so it was a free stay for us. We set up the tent and drove up to the summit at 10,023 feet. Starting there we started hiking down into the crater. In the crater itself you find many more craters and the environment is just surreal. After hiking into the crater for about 90 minutes we decided to turn around and get back to the car. Not because we did not enjoy it or because we were tired, but because the sun sets much earlier in the crater than it does outside and the shadows could make the hike dangerous.

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On the way up, we drove through the clouds and for the rest of the drive we could only rarely see the lands of Maui glimpse  through the rather thick layer of clouds.

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The first view into the crater..

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I found it very impressive, how the stone formations in the crater tell their stories. The pathway, the lava found decades ago, that not left a window to the ocean may have keen my favorite.

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These plants  are endangered to go extinct or can only be found in this volcano. I am not quite sure anymore… but they are pretty and important 😉

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I also adored the many different shades you could find in the crater. Just look at this one small crater, all those reds, browns and yellow. Just breathtaking.

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Eventhough the crater does not look too big and this hello path looks like it goes to the outer wall, it takes you about 2-5 minutes to get to that boulder and just behind it a whole new landscape opened up. There is one camping ground at the other end of the crater and it I remember correctly, the estimated hiking distance was over 20 hours… just to give you an impression of the sheer size of the crater.

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Once again, parts of the crater with smaller craters in it. I am just slightly obsessed with the colors. After a three hour hike (well down and up), we arrived back at the car and decided to drive back down to the camping ground. The ground in the crater made hiking more exhausting than expected and we were looking forward to some rest.

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On the drive back down, the clouds came creeping up the mountain and just looked stunning.

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Those two Nene crossed the road just past a “Nene crossing” sign…

Once back at the tent, we enjoyed some last sundays and retreated into our tent after a quick dinner. We isolated our tent as good as possible with the limited resources. So we slept on towels and our flight blankets, and layered up like pros, leggings, flannels, shirts, hoodies and multiple layers of socks. Somewhere in the mix were our jackets as well. I can not remember a single time when I froze that badly. I don’t know how many times I told Christina, I’d go sleep in the car (kinda hoping she would tag along) but did not go… Don’t ask me why… I should have… it was so cold.

If you ever plan on sleeping on Haleakala, bring more/better equipment or sleep in your car.

But the next morning, the horrible night was worth it… what we did… check back tomorrow 😉

By the way, according to runtastic, we burned over 800 calories and our hike had a height difference of over 1,190 m… that is quite a hike 😉

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