Posts Tagged ‘crater’

A Maui Sunrise

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

This was our crazy insane day. Yes we woke up at 1:45am this morning, before anyone else was up. The only people awake are the hotel cleaning crew, other tourists as crazy as us and people coming home from the bars.

I have been wanting to do two things since our last trip here 20 years ago. The Na Pali coast and see the sunrise over Mount Haleakala. This trip we made a point of booking the trip early. I choose the company Bike it Maui because of all the tours out there they seemed to be the most organized and reasonably priced.

The shuttle driver picked us up at 2:10am and we stopped at one other hotel in our area. He then drove down to Wailea to two more hotels to pick up the remaining guests. After the van was loaded, we drove back to the central part of Maui and picked up one of the other tour guides and  had a quick stop for restrooms, coffee and snacks. We loaded back up and headed on to pick up the bikes. Once the bike trailer was loaded up, we headed up the mountain. The ride up the mountain was dark, so you don’t get to see anything exciting.

Just outside the National Park, we dropped off the trailer with the bikes and we were given windbreakers, gloves, hats and pants. After the trailer was unhitched and the cloths passed out we continued on up the mountain. The rest of the ride up you started to see more cars. A little further up the mountain we reached the parking lot and it seemed pretty full. Fortunately, all of the tour buses have their own place to park so we pulled in and unloaded.

It was about 30 minutes before sunrise, so we had some time to walk around and find a good spot. The temperature was pretty cold and I was glad I had gloves and a hat. The wind was blowing as well, but there were enough people around that they were a windbreak for us. The skyline was amazing. We were above the cloud line, so you could not see much of the crater, but it led to some amazing colors as the sun got closer to the horizon. We started to see a little red line on the horizon, in the distance as it slowly grew brighter.

All of a sudden, a little arc appeared above the horizon as the sun started to rise. It grew larger as the outline of the sun could now be seen and it slowly ascended in the sky. The colors started to brighten up the sky as the sun rose higher. The sun finally crested the horizon and was now a complete sphere of light. The landscape was almost surreal and reminded me of a lunar landscape. The clouds made it even more eerie. I would like to come back here sometime and just spend the entire day hiking the rim.


We loaded up the van and headed back down the hill to the visitors center. This was used as a bathroom break, as the one at the top of the mountain was very crowded and this one had nobody. Just before we reloaded the van, the park ranger came out to raise the flag. It clearly wasn’t something he did everyday because he started to put the state flag on the pole before the US flag. I was about to say something before he finally realized it was wrong and fixed it.

We traveled back down to where we dropped off the trailer. We unloaded and they took the bikes out of the trailer. Once everyone had their own bike we started riding down the mountain. It was a pretty slow pace as most people were on their brakes for the entire time. I could smell the brakes from the other riders. The ride was about 15.26 miles. My GPS said at one point we reached 40mph, but I am not sure I believe that.We descended about 5000′ through a number of curves and 180 degree turns. The scenery was beautiful. The landscape changed from scrub-brush landscape at the top to forest-like in the middle to farmland towards the bottom. We stopped a few times for photos and a clothing break. Once we got down about half way, the temperature warmed up so that we didn’t need our jackets and pants. It started to rain just before the end of the ride, so we had to stop. This particular company does not allow its tour to ride in wet weather. While we are on mountain bikes with wide tires, it would be fine for most, but the one person that crashes would probably not be good for tourism.

We loaded the bikes back up into the van and then traveled down to drop off our guide. We then stopped at the Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course for breakfast. The breakfast was pretty good and the portions were large. The only odd things was Coffee was included, but hot tea was $3 extra. After breakfast, we dropped off our guests in the reverse order we picked them up in. We returned to our Hotel about noon. We promptly headed up to the room and went to sleep.

After a few good hours of sleep we decided to go get some dinner. We went to Hula Grill & Barefoot Bar to watch the sunset and eat dinner. After dinner, I spent some time in the spa relaxing and helping my body recover and then off to bed.