After having driven to and from Hana to take Sheryl to do the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls, I knew I wouldn’t be up for driving at 3 in the morning the next day to go up Haleakala to view the sunrise. I browsed Hawaii’s official tourism site and decided to pay for a “Spectacular Haleakala Sunrise Tour.”
We got ready to be picked up by Polynesian Adventure Tours at about 3:00 a.m. After a quick stop at a convenience store, we made our way up the dormant volcano. Coffee and some pastries were provided for the hour-long drive. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, sharing tidbits about Haleakala National Park.
We arrived at Haleakala National Park about an hour before sunrise. I spotted a few people who were not prepared at all for watching the sunrise from Haleakala. With shorts and slippers, they were really shivering in the 40 degree weather. I had my wool coat, a beanie, and gloves, but still felt cold.
But, when the sun peeped through the clouds, I forgot about how cold it was. Viewing the sunrise from 10,000 feet above sea level was just magical. Cameras snapped, snapped, snapped for a good half an hour or so. I’m sure we were all burning our eyes looking directly at the sun. How could we not, though? The colors of dawn that blanketed the moonscape-like terrain were just beautiful.
We then made our way down to the Visitor’s Center. There, we were lucky to see several budding Haleakala silverswords (known as ʻāhinahina in Hawaiian, meaning “very gray”). This endemic plant has been an endangered species in Hawaii since the mid-1980’s. The plant can live on for more than 50 years before it blooms and hence, it can be rare to see a silversword in bloom. Sheryl was quite sad to hear that when the silversword blooms, it dies soon thereafter.