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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Maui, Day 2

The Western Mountains



Our second day on Maui ended up being volcano day. We still weren't acclimated to the time zone, so woke up early, and were ready to go by 7:00, which worked out nicely for taking pictures along the beaches along route 30, which runs from Kahului around the southern tip of the Western Mountains to Lahaina. There are gorgeous beaches along most of the road, with decent surfing (you can barely make out a surfer in the third picture down - turns out the best surfing was the day we left, so I don't have pictures).

We headed up to the summit of Haleakala (the island's eastern volcano). For whatever reason, Haleakala, from most vantage points, resembles one large mountain, unlike the carved up appearance of the western volcano. It's also a lot larger, and when you're in the lowland between the two volcanoes, Haleakala wins the looming game.

As you drive up the volcano, at a certain point of altitude, the landscape suddenly turns into the rolling, green hills of Ireland, and you're surrounded by cows. (And jacaranda trees. I love jacaranda trees.) As it happened, this was the cloud belt on the morning we went through, so I sadly have no pictures, but it's a beautiful landscape.

Above the cows, the trees grow thinner (and eventually disappear), and you hit Haleakala National Park, which houses the summit and the crater of the volcano. This was the one place on the island where I actually had to put on a sweatshirt (we arrived around 10:00, so it was in the 50s, and as a hearty Mainer, I eschewed jeans. It was probably a bit breezy to eschew jeans, but I survived).

Apparently the crater isn't really a crater, but I'm not enough of a geology buff to remember the whole story behind that. What I do remember is how much it resembles a moonscape. It's incredibly beautiful, and the clouds were close enough to provide an interesting contrast (though they did deny us what I'm told is a stunning view of the lowlands and the Western Mountains).

The Big Island from Haleakala.

The drive back down the volcano is interesting. It's a steep enough grade that for the entirety of the park road, and a bit longer, you're riding in a low gear through switchbacks. My sister drove that, and I confess I'm happy she did. I'm way too much a lowland driver to be entirely comfortable with that much active driving management.

1 comment:

Nymeth said...

Wow - gorgeous pictures! Sounds like a lovely trip.