Thursday, October 23, 2014

Along the Sliding Sands Trail

Haleakala National Park

Looks can be deceiving.  This trail looked relatively easy and we were enjoying ourselves immensely until it suddenly dawned on us we were descending into the valley very rapidly.  The only way back was UP.

We chose the Sliding Sands Trail for our hike at the summit area of Haleakala for its easy access and for its incredible views.  There are 30 miles of hiking trails up here, but this is a good one if your time is limited.  The trailhead begins at the Haleakala Visitor's Center.  There are warning signs that you should not attempt this hike if you have respiratory problems.  Believe me, even if you don't, you will be gasping for air on the way up.  It's almost 10,000 feet up here, and most of us tourists have been lounging on the beaches at sea level for most of the week!
The good thing is you will be forced to stop often to catch your breath and by stopping you will be forced to soak in the unique scenery of this mountain valley.  The summit of Haleakala once towered over this area, but over time wind, water and ice has eroded the volcanic mountain, creating large valleys like the one we are hiking into.  Those hills, however, are cinder cones, reminding us that Haleakala, at one time, was very much alive.   Each one was the site of its own eruption.

What remains is a mosaic of green, purple and red with splashes of white from clouds that drift in and out of the basin.  The air is thin but the ground is thick with layers upon layers of lava flows that created the very island we are standing on.  Maui.  In all its glory.

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