"" Writer's Wanderings: The Sun Rises at Haleakala

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Sun Rises at Haleakala

One of the most spectacular sights we've seen is the sunrise at Haleakala. Here is my post from our visit a few years ago.

We have been to Maui several times and have always been told, "you have to see the sunrise at the top of Haleakala!" Well, this trip we determined we would do it--even though it meant getting up at 3:45 a.m. to drive to the other side of the island and all the way up the volcano to the 10,000 foot summit. Little did we know it would take two tries.

Our first attempt to see the sunrise was considered our trial run. We knew we were probably in trouble when less than halfway up the volcano, the clouds began misting our windshield. We watched the temperature gauge on the car indicate that the outdoor temps were falling the higher we went. We started out at 68 degrees F and dipped to 38 degrees by the time we were to the top.

Windy, wet, and cold, we stood looking east into a shrouded crater and sky that only got a bit lighter as the time of the sunrise came and went. At least, we agreed, we now knew that we could actually be awake enough to enjoy the sunrise should we try again.

And try we did. Successfully! We waited for a day that was forecast to be less windy and cold and hoped that the cloud cover would not descend on the volcano again. The alarm went off at 3:45, I started the coffee, stuck our banana bread breakfast in a bag, and got dressed. Our coffee pot was neat--a stainless steel that acted like a thermos so we just grabbed the pot and took off for our two hour drive.

This time the skies stayed clear as we ascended along with hundreds of others. You don't want to wait too long to get your spot at the top or you'll be disappointed. The parking lot was almost full when we arrived about 45 minutes before actual sunrise time. We didn't go all the way to the summit, about another 100-150 feet up because we were told by a ranger that it was a better view from the visitor's center just below the actual summit.

We found a spot behind two shorter people--the railing that lines the crater there was already lined up with people. The horizon was showing a tinge of beautiful bright color. Fearing to lose our spot and not wanting to miss a moment of the action, we stood there watching all the changes in the sky as the sun came closer to the horizon.

The crater was filled with clouds that had settled in overnight making it look like a huge bowl of whipped cream. But the sky was clear, the temps were only in the mid-40s, and there was very little wind. The amazing thing was how quiet it got the closer it came to sunrise. Hundreds of people literally holding their breath in anticipation.

As soon as the sun crested, behind us the native Hawaiian rangers began a chant to welcome the new day.
The sun in the east
From the ocean
The ocean deep
Climbing (to) the heaven
The heaven highest
In the east
There is the sun

Of course the chant was in Hawaiian and very melodic. The volcanoes of Hawaii are sacred to the native Hawaiians and we have seen in the past on the big island of Hawaii, offerings of fruit and flowers displayed for the goddess Pele.

With apologies to Pele, I think that God's display of the sunrise took first place in my heart that morning.

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