We spent the end of summer on the island of Maui. The last big vacation before everything changes. Sunsets and shave ice and amazing seafood and sunsets and beaches and sunsets and sunsets…
Did I mention the sunsets?
One of the big tourist attractions in all of Maui has nothing to do with sunsets, but a sunrise… The sunrise at the top of Haleakala.
‘They’ try to comfort you by calling it visiting Haleakala State Park at sunrise, but what they are really recommending is that you drive 10,000 feet to the top of a volcano in the middle of the night.
Let’s examine how this is SO not me:
1) it’s a volcano
2) it requires multiple hours of driving in the middle of the night
3) it requires multiple hours of driving in the middle of the night with a rental car akin to a go cart
4) the volcano sits at a height of 10,000 feet – that doesn’t mean you’re driving up on one steep angle like the yodeler on ‘The Price is Right’… You’re driving on many different angles in a circle at a very slow speed for 90 minutes.
5) did I mention that there was a chance you might not actually see the sunrise when you get up there?
The battle to get to the summit of Haleakala was a theme throughout the trip. I was resistant. If the weather forecasted ‘partly’ anything overnight, the decision was made not to make the drive. The penultimate overnight was upon us and the weather predicted ‘clear’.
I was going to have to drive the rental go cart along the side of a volcano.
Alarm goes off at 2:30am… But, hey, it’s 8:30am in NYC so folks can read my Facebook posts.
Warm clothes are put on (I should mention the humidity was strong in our room), blankets were packed, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were made, and we were on the road by 3am!
The first sixty minutes was spent listening to the Maui Gypsy Guide app. It was technology vs the old paper map to make sure we were making the right turns. It helped that there was a formation of automobiles all making the same turns… Tourists!
The electronic guide gets you to the foot of the volcano to begin your 90 minute, 10,000 foot climb. You are warned of the great many number of curves. Since we had already driven The Road to Hana, which is famous for their twists, turns, curves, and one lane bridges – I had experience.
It was just pitch black while you made the turns this time.
Along with the curves, the only other highlight of the first half of the drive is watching the temperature begin to drop twenty degrees… Because you were heading to the height of where a small plane may fly!
Just after the midway point, there’s a short wait in a line of cars to pay for park admission (because, obviously). Then the real part of the drive begins. The circumference of the volcano is dwindling as you get higher, the turns happen more often, the road narrows…
And there’s this part about it being pitch black.
Then you find yourself hugging the center line of the road with your rental go cart. Why am I hugging the center line? Oh it’s because there’s no guard rail.
There’s no guard rail and it’s pitch black.
Grateful I am not in the passenger seat. I would have needed a puke bag in the glove box.
You have that moment that you might not survive which can only mean you are almost there. Saviors in Parks & Recreation uniforms guide you towards your salvation, a parking spot. The electronic guide has already warned me that walking the last several steps to the peak may be difficult because of the thinning of air, the drop in temperature, and the amount of fear you incurred driving those last 2000 feet.
Now, as long as it wasn’t cloudy – this would all be worth it… I think.
NOTE: I held my camera over my head so I could actually watch this with my own eyes!
Okay, fine! You’ve won this time nature! The waking up early, and the driving in the middle of the night, and the treacherous climb, and the cold – all worth it!
Now, to drive back down…