This was the leg of our backpacking adventure that I had been dreading. The trail from Paliku Cabin to Holua Cabin would be the longest single leg, at 6.4 miles. However, it wasn’t the mileage that scared me, but the elevation gain. Up to this point, we had been mainly descending from the summit of Haleakala. Paliku Cabin would be the lowest we would be, elevation wise. From Paliku, it would be an uphill climb to Holua Cabin and then to the summit road the following day.
The sleeping situation didn’t really improve for me at Paliku Cabin. The snoring levels dropped, but I found myself dealing with a sore neck. Again I woke up early and caught the sun as it was rising over the crater walls. John woke up next and teased us all with his breakfast. He cooked bacon and eggs. Not dehydrated bacon and eggs, but honest bacon and eggs. All that he was missing was a scoop of rice and a glass of orange juice. Me? I had some some saimin that Mike had given me the day before. Maruchan chicken ramen never tasted so good.
The first thing that I did to prepare for this leg of the hike was to shed some items from my backpack. I decided to leave a tub of peanut butter and my space blanket in the Paliku Cabin pantry. The peanut butter was just dead weight, and the space blanket was quite bulky, and unnecessary. I left those luxury items for others to enjoy. Hopefully, that tub of peanut butter will be a nice and sweet protein surprise for a tired and hungry hiker.
After some cabin cleaning, the crew started to head out. The first to go were Mike and John. Ngoc went next, followed by Bin and I-Ting. The sweeper group consisted of Allison, Ahnate, Joel, Janice, and yours truly.
Joel and I really took our time on this trail. Why rush? This leg of the trip, although grueling, would prove to offer some of the most epic views. We ended up breaking from Ahnate, Allison, and Janice, at around mile 1.5. At mile 3.1, near the main junction point that brings you back to Kapalaoa Cabin, we sat and had a nice lunch break. After a brief encounter with an angry wasp, we, relocated, and found the flattest rock that we could find. We quickly plopped down our backpacks and started to decide on the menu for lunch. For appetizers, we had protein bars and nuts. For our luxurious main entree, we Macgyver’d a tuna sandwich made out of Bumble Bee Albacore and MRE Crackers. It was a nice energy booster. For dessert we dined on some tootsie rolls. Let me tell you, tootsie rolls never tasted so good. When your exhausted, tired, and hungry, a tootsie roll can be just as invigorating as eating premium hamachi nigiri at your favorite sushi restaurant. Pure satisfaction.
Continuing on, we stumbled upon what is known as the Bottomless Pit. The pit, which is 65 feet deep (not so bottomless), is fenced off. It was a bit underwhelming. From this point, up until we reached Holua Cabin, I found myself constantly stopping to just soak in the views. Haleakala deserves to be soaked in, rather than rushed.
For some reason, the final 1.5 miles of this leg felt like it took forever. The motivation for me was the simple fact that we were heading into the last day. This would be the last night in Haleakala and I had better appreciate the opportunity. I really didn’t need much more motivation than that. Like the two days before, I also clung to music to help push me. I ended up listening to Fun’s first album, Aim and Ignite, through my white iPhone earbuds. I discovered a song that I had previously ignored. The Gambler, which is the 9th track on Aim and Ignite. The song is beautiful. It’s about living, discovery, and love. Since then, I’ve listened to that song a billion times over.
As you get closer to Holua Cabin, you will notice the silversword loop side trail. If you take this side trail, it will take you to a point on the Halemauu Trail that you would have been on whether or not you decided to go on the silversword loop or not. About 0.5 from the cabin, we stumbled upon John, who had come out to check up on us. We were fine, I told him, and that we were just taking our time. Despite dreading this leg of the trip, it would offer up some of the most beautiful landscapes that the grand Haleakala tour had to offer. Two weeks later I would see Fun live in concert, in New York City. They sang The Gambler. I was instantly transported back to Haleakala. The final mile-and-a-half turned out to be a time of reflection for me. More so, I gained a sense of appreciation for being able to backpack through one of the most beautiful National Parks that our nation has to offer.
Day 3 By The Numbers:
Start Time: 8:40 am
End Time: 12:30 pm
Total Distance: 6.45 miles
Total Time: 3 hours and 50 minutes
Total Ascent: 1,499 feet
Total Descent: 1,013 feet
Day 3 Food Intake:
1 Maruchan Chicken Ramen
1 MRE cracker
Half pack of albacore tuna
1 spaghetti with meat sauce
1 chicken teriyaki with rice