Maui, Hawaii 2007 Tuesday
We woke at 1:30 AM and drove to Maui Sunriders Bike Co. in Pa'ia, where we were equipped with rain jackets, pants, thick gloves, helmets and backpacks. We wore long pants and took along sweatshirts and jackets, because the temperature at the summit is approximately 32 degrees. I had the forethought to bring earmuffs, since I don't have any hair to cover my ears. Brought some for Denny too. He was so glad! Our group was fitted for bicycles and loaded into two vans and drove the hour trip to the Summit of Haleakala in the dark, so that we would arrive about an hour before sunrise. Since the volcano last erupted in 1790, we weren't too concerned about lava flow.
At Haleakala's 10,023' you watch the sun come up over the crater, a truly spectacular sight. Mark Twain described sunrise at the summit of Haleakala, "...the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed". Some call it the eighth wonder of the world, others call it a "power center". It is all that and more. At once forbidding and compelling, Haleakala National Park is Maui's main natural attraction. Just going up the mountain is quite an experience, let alone biking down! No where else can you climb from sea level to 10,023' in less than an hour. At the summit, the 3,000' deep crater you peer down into is 7 miles long, 2 miles wide and 21 miles in circumference. Big enough to contain Manhattan!
Standing on the edge of the crater, the light show was spectacular, as can be seen in the series of photos we took as the sun rose. It was awesome to be above the clouds and watch the sun come up.
Bicycle down Crater
We then boarded the vans again and were driven to the staging area at the edge of the National Park where we were dropped off with our bikes and our maps, and we were on our own, We made lots of stops and took in the view and took lots of pictures. What lies before you is Maui's famous downhill. You drop 3,000' in 10 miles and curve around 29 switch backs. Stop often and enjoy the incredible vistas of west Maui surrounded by the Pacific. Below 4,000' you come to "upcountry Maui". Vegetable truck farms, protea farms, lodges, galleries and Kula botanical gardens. And this gets you about halfway down the volcano.
Kula for Breakfast
We then stopped at Kula Marketplace for a lovely breakfast and walked around the fabulous gardens. Back on the road, we had stripped off the rain gear because of the heat, and then of course it started raining. We rode in and out of the rain for a while, and arrived back in Pa'ia in one piece, but they need much softer seats on those bikes. And it's a good thing we had maps, or we would have been lost. We should have paid more attention going up in the dark. 32 miles is a long bike ride, even downhill, but it was wonderful.
IAO State Park
On the way back to Kihei we detoured to 'Iao Valley State Park, and viewed and photographed the 'Iao Needle at the end of 'Iao Valley Road (Highway 32), Wailuku Central Maui. The lovely, deep valley of 'Iao features the 'Iao Needle, a natural rock pinnacle presiding over the 'Iao stream and surrounded by the walls of the Pu'u Kukui Crater. Once used as a natural altar, the 2,250-foot stone pillar covered in green, is a basaltic core that has survived eons of swirling water. 'Iao Valley is a peaceful lush area with easy hikes, exotic tropical plants, and clear, natural pools. The ridge top lookout offers a fantastic view of the valley and Kahului Harbor. 'Iao Valley is the site of one of the most famous battles that occurred in 1790 and changed Hawaii history forever when King Kamehameha I destroyed the Maui army in an effort to unite the Hawaiian Islands.
Dinner was at Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei. Worn out and hungry, we had a lovely dinner of pork chops and chicken before dropping dead into bed.