Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hakeakala Crater: Paliku to Holua. Life Changer!

DAY ONE:
 8 mi.up the Kaupo Gap
When I woke up on June 30th I was filled with excitement, anticipation, and nerves for a four day trip up the Kaupo gap, to Paliku cabin for two nights, then Holua for one night, and out the Halemau'u switchbacks. This is me on YouTube moments before our ride arrived: http://youtu.be/Nervous. Our group of 11 was all organized by the stellar couple Stacy, and Sean. Matt and I know Stacy from Flagstaff. The three of us worked in a restaurant together. A couple of years ago Sean and Stacy moved to Maui, and we have talked about this trip for awhile. I have been so excited for this trip, I was packing for around a week.
Sean and Stacy's friend Dave was visiting from Flagstaff, and hopped in, and Sean a.k.a. Seahorse, and James new friends to me and Matt made it eight. The great group of people arrived at our house early in the morning to put us at the Ranger station in Kipahulu when they open to watch our mandatory informational video. After the video we got a ride about a mile and a half up from the Kaupo store to the starting point. Thank you Dylan for driving us out there! We then hiked three miles up a trail through privately owned pasture that has given an easement to the National Park for hikers.


We then arrived at our shady lunch spot. At this halfway point I was relieved to get my pack off for a bit, even though the average pack was probably 10 pounds heavier than mine. Don't even ask about Matt's crazy heavy pack...thanks Matt! I was inspired by how hard everyone was working; together. Shortly after we left our picnic spot, and entered the Park, I caught a glimpse of a tree that Matt painted, entitled Bonsai Ohia right in front of me. This was the start of several days filled with surreal experiences.
Around mile 5 I kinda lost it. I had my pack off, lost my sunglasses, and was feeling dehydrated. I started to panic, but soon was swept up by Matt, and Dave.

Music and conversation helped me get through the push to the bogs near the cabin. Then there was the first sight of our cabin at Paliku. We made a killer pasta meal with fresh, veggies that evening, and got down for a Uno session. Uno proved to be THE game of our trip. It was a blast. We had tunes, and good laughs playing games, eating, and talking the night away. Then the stars were out, and we were too.
DAY TWO:
1.8 to Kalapawili Ridge.
This was a day off. Free from packs, and in a special place. Matt led us up to this heaven on earth spot just behind our cabin. The views were overwhelmingly beautiful. Able to see Kaupo, Kipahulu, the Hana airport, Ke'anae.
Paliku Ridge


Mexican dinner at Paliku.
That evening two parties of our friends were to arrive. First Hugo and Victor joined us, and told us their crazy tale of their hike in, and we then waited with much anticipation for Kim and Curtis. Everyone landed safely, and we devoured fantastic burritos. Good times that night. It was Dave's birthday, and we surprised him with a brownie goo.


DAY THREE
1.5 up and back Paliku ridge, 6.2 across the crater floor, by the Paint Pot, Bottomless Pit, and on to Holua cabin.
The next day was over six miles, rolling hills on rock, and sand trails. The eleven of us has a sweet line going all the way down, in, and through the crater floor. We could always see each other across the vast landscape. It was a fun, easy, and amazing experience.

The landscapes are straight up out of a science fiction movie. I felt such a strong connection to the crater, and it's healing powerful energy. The spectrum of colors and the mist filled my senses. I was not feeling the sore muscles from the climb a few days ago. It was not too hot either, but the sun was relentless, and the sunscreen was re-applied constantly.



Sunlight in the lava tube.
Sean + Nene = Fun
Then we reached Holua cabin.There we discovered the talents of the Nene as portrayed within this amazing montage video Matt put together on YouTube: http://youtu.be/Haleaka-holla2011.
We had a bite, and crawled up to the ridge behind the Holua cabin right away. Then it was off to the lava tube. Sunset was spent walking over to the Silversword Loop, and back. Saw a helicopter come rescue a woman with an injury in the distance, and met several people from all over the world, Hawaii, and Maui, throughout the day stopping at the cabin (as it is on the way to and from the Halemau'u Trail), and camp site along with campers too.
It's a community in the crater when you are lucky enough to be a part of it for the few days you are allowed in at one time.
DAY FOUR:
Hike across the crater floor to climb up the switchbacks on Halemau'u Trail.
Matt and I got up early in our zipped sleeping bags, and watched the sun peeking above the clouds. As the morning went on the clouds continued to roll into the crater, burn off, and seemingly get sucked out; like the crater was breathing.

Matt and Dave.
Silversword
Set to go up-bitter sweet.
It was so misty on the floor of the crater walking towards the switchbacks. Then it was up into the clouds. Just when you think you're done, you go around the corner and do another set of switchbacks. This might have bothered me if it wasn't for the smile on my face. It was sort of dreamy. It was hot this day, but I was powering up holding on.

Then there was the view of the parking lot. I wanted to run, but my legs were short of shaky, and I was tired too. I walked faster and faster, and caught up with my hiking buddy Sean whom I started to call Spidey because of his nimble climbing style that I found myself trying to imitate when behind him, and we found Matt and James doing push-ups in the parking lot at the top of Halemau'u Trail-head. Then I had to do a couple of push-up's myself. The cooler came out next, and then I was plastered to the parking lot heating my legs and still applying sunblock. I was spent but feeling full of energy. Everyone gathered again, sat talking for awhile, not wanting our time together to end; then we slowly said our goodbyes for the this time.

Thank you Matt, Stacy, Sean, Dave, Sean, James, Kim, and Curtis for all of your support, help, and your fabulous company! My vacation on at home on Maui would not have been the same without all of you.
WE did it!
Read Matt's take on this 26 mile adventure on mauirunner.com here:
http://www.mauirunner.com/haleakala-experience-2011

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