This week’s challenge is all about depth. It reminds me of the afternoon I spent at Kilauea on the Big Island. It rained for about 90% of the time I was out there, but the skies cleared up long enough for a glimpse of the volcano’s sprawling range and depth. This was taken at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
This week’s challenge is all about achievement, so I immediately thought of my time on Haleakala. It’s an ancient volcano that comprises the majority of Maui, Hawaii. I didn’t realize just how tall it was until I started the trip up its slopes. Green plains and lush forests gave way to rocky outcroppings and sparse vegetation. The weather at sea level was pleasant enough, but I soon found myself in the thick of nasty rainstorm. Utterly drenched from head to toe – my camera suffering a little water damage – I finally reached the top. 10,023 feet up, all in a drive that took two hours. It was the highest location on the planet on which I’ve ever been (not counting flights, of course), and I spent a few minutes taking it all in. I stood on Puʻu ʻUlaʻula, AKA the Red Hill. The flooded, rocky abyss resembled the Moon more than Earth. Fittingly, there’s an astronomical observatory just down the road…that’s closed to the public. Hopefully, at least the skies will be clear the next time I go.
This week’s challenge is all about signs, so I was reminded of something I saw near the peak of Haleakala on Maui. The Nene is the rarest species of goose in the world; it’s exclusive to the Hawaiian islands, and Maui’s population is hidden on the upper slopes of Haleakala. I was lucky enough to see four of those rare birds during my journey. Great trouble has gone to ensure the Nene’s survival, and this crossing sign on the volcano is just one example of it.
If a one-day car trip up to Haleakala is too much for you, it’s easy to just get a 3-day pass and go camping in its forests. Lots of trails, and plenty to see.
Haleakala is a massive dormant volcano that comprises about 75% of Maui. Its peak is 10,023 feet (3,055 m), so reaching it requires an epic, two hour ride from the beach up its long, windy slopes. You won’t notice the drastic change in altitude until you glance out a side window and realize that the town you left has become nothing but a speck. Along the way, you’ll drive through peaceful fields, parks, and forests, eventually reaching a point where there’s nothing but sparse vegetation, endangered species, and lots of rock. The lovely green countryside in this photo looks nothing like the summit.