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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

PEARL'S ASHES: Chapter 6 Haleakala

It was 5 June 2010.  I rented a car when I arrived at Kahului Airport.  I stayed at the Maui Seaside Hotel, about the closest you can get to the drive up Haleakala, Hawaiian for House of the Sun.  There was some trepidation about this  solo journey up 10,000 feet in the dark.  You can read a blog posting about my experience:

Everyone who wants to do a hundred things before moving on into the afterlife, or not, must catch the sunrise at Haleakala.  I left the Maui Seaside at 4AM, for the drive was supposed to take an hour and a half, with sunrise at 5:44.  Well, it was really dark, and the road with a hundred hairpin turns (okay, only 33 switchbacks through 12 climate zones).  As I made it to the entrance gate to pay the $10 fee, I found out this was FREE Saturday, but noticed that the sunrise was not 5:44, but 5:37.  Remember, we are nearly two miles high, so the sunrise is earlier.  The only car delaying progress was mine, for there was a long caravan behind me, and I wanted to make it up there alive.  I just made it to take the first photo to the left..

Then a second shot as the Sun peaked out:


There was a mob of people awaiting the event, all in various stages of frostbite, for the winds were in the 30 to 40 MPH range and temperature around 42 degrees F.  At 40 degrees and 40 MPH, the effective temperature is 11 degrees F, and freezing is 32 degrees.  If you ever go, wear something for Helsinki in January.

My third photo had some strange effects.  A square sun and a heart.  
My intent was to spread a small amount of Pearl's ashes as the Sun appeared, which was a challenge with all the people around, the wind, my wanting to take a photo at that moment and having only two hands.  A particular attraction of this national park is the silversword, which can only be found on this mountain at elevations exceeding 7,000 feet.  It almost went extinct in the 1920's, and is still threatened by feral goats...and me.  I walked up to take the photo below, with a forest ranger screaming at me to get back on to the concrete pathway.  I never did see any sign. 

Here is where I laid Pearl's Ashes #9:


The drive up was scary.  The trip down was spectacular, as you are above the clouds.  The only distractions, and most dangerous, were dozens of bicyclists (a tourist attraction) riding down the same road.  

Eventually, you drive through the clouds, then, suddenly, you are below.

At this time of year the Jacarandas are blossoming.  There is a pleasant smell and the ground is purple from the falling flowers.  Speaking of fragrances, you can also visit a lavender farm on the slopes of this volcano.


This tree is important to the story, for the Jacaranda might, actually, have been Pearl's favorite tree.  Just about four years later, when we planted Pearl's Gold Tree at the Hilo Municipal Golf Course, close by was a Jacaranda:


The trek up Haleakala for the sunrise has since 2010 become so popular that the National Parks Service made online permitting only for the first 150 necessary to enter from 3AM to 7AM from 1 February 2017.  This reservation cost is $1.50, but the entrance fee/car is $20.  There are 150 parking spots and crowds of up to 1000 sometimes showed up.   Other details:
  • The whole mountainous park itself is open 24/7/365.
  • The Park Headquarters Visitor Center, located at the 7000 foot level, is available from 8AM to 3:45PM (phone 808 572 4459--THIS IS THE NUMBER TO CALL FOR RESERVATIONS, which I kept dialing and never could get through, for they seem to be always busy--although you can leave a number, which I did not do)
  • The Haleakala Visitor Center is at 9740 feet, although the summit is at 10,023 feet.  Here is where the crowds agglomerate for the sunset.
  • At the top on a side road is also a  scientific observatory:


Next week, Pearl's Ashes #10, Mount Kilimanjaro.

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