Haleakala Panoramas

This past weekend we took another trip to Haleakala National Park. This time we hiked in through the Halemau’u Trail (commonly referred to as “switchbacks”) and we stayed one night at the Holua cabin. We then trekked across the crater to the Paliku cabin and then hiked out of the crater down the Kaupo Gap (8 miles, downhill the whole way). My primary camera battery was close to dead, and I accidentally sent my charger home with my mom (oops!), so I took some great panoramic shots with my phone instead!

Crossing the crater

Front yard of the Paliku Cabin

Cabin at the end of the rainbow

View from Paliku

Beginning the Kaupo Trail from the top

The view on the way down (ignore the odd wrinkle in the photo). That’s the Big Island in the distance!

Finally made it to the trail head! Every muscle in my legs got worked out on this trail!


Backpacking Haleakalā

Aloha from Maui!

We returned from Haleakalā late last night, and I was far too exhausted to post anything. Since then I’ve been busy packing and cleaning. Today, we moved from Darla’s place in Kīhei to another friend’s place (Donna and George) on the west coast, in Lahaina. We also ran a few more errands – yay errands! We’ll be moving into our more permanent temporary residence (dubbed the Smith Lab Interim Maui Extension Office – SLIMEO) in Honokowai on August 9th.

Back to updates – backpacking in Haleakalā was amazing! Altogether there were 7 of us. We stayed in a cabin one night and in tents the second night, and we hiked all over in between. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time, and the views were phenomenal!

Darla, me, Levi, Niko, Mark, Jeff, and Emily

Our morning started out rather relaxed – we finished packing, grabbed breakfast, and then headed out for a late start around noon. We started out our descent into the crater on the Sliding Sands trail (~6 miles) to get to our first destination – the Kapalaoa cabin. We played some bocce ball along the way and took our time getting there. We arrived around sunset and spent some time admiring the endangered Hawaiian geese (also Hawaii’s state bird), Nēnē. Our arrival was followed shortly by a few more quick bocce games before dark. Before bed, we cooked a delicious veggie pasta dinner along with some cheese and crackers. I’ll admit, it was a pretty fancy dinner for camping.

Silversword – an endemic Hawaiian plant

The next day we woke up early and cleaned up the cabin. Oatmeal was the main item on the breakfast menu, accompanied by some apples and trail mix. We played a few more games of bocce after breakfast and spent more time hanging out with the wild Nēnē. Before leaving we cooked up some veggies and quinoa (to serve as that night’s dinner since we didn’t bring along a camp stove/ supplies), packed up, and hit the trail for our next destination – the Hōlua campsite.


The hike to Hōlua was unlike any I’ve ever taken. The landscape was absolutely unreal. We stopped a few times on the way for lunch (almond butter and honey sandwiches) and snacks – and of course, a few games of bocce ball!


Upon our arrival, we freshened up, renewed our water sources, and relaxed – and played more bocce ball! After some relaxation, and a yummy dinner of veggies and quinoa with more cheese and crackers, we set up the tents at the campsite. After changing into warm clothes and settling into the tents, we gathered in our biggest tent and played a few intense (or in-tents – get it?) games of UNO before getting some sleep.

The next morning I woke up to see the sunrise. It wasn’t the most spectacular I’ve ever seen, since the clouds blocked a lot of it, but it was still pretty amazing. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures. The more amazing part of the sunrise was the full moon setting on the other side of the sky. After sunrise we took our sweet time eating a breakfast of snacks, packing up, and breaking down camp. We were all sore and fatigued after two days of hiking on sandy trails, so we stretched out and warmed up our muscles before hitting our last trail home.



We took the switchbacks of the Halemauʻu Trail (~ 4 miles/ 1000ft vertical) back up to the lot where we parked the cars. It was beautiful, lush, green mountainside with innumerable ferns! Ferns everywhere! Now, if you know about my (somewhat) recent trips to Australia and New Zealand, you probably know that I’m a little obsessed with ferns. I have no idea what it is about them, but I love them. I plan to dedicate an entire post to the red ferns of Haleakalā.



Upon my return to the car, I was able to give myself a quick wet-wipe shower and change into some reasonably clean clothes. On the way down the mountain we made a quick stop at Hosmer Grove to see some non-native forest trees and some endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers (cute birds with specialized beaks, sometimes referred to as “Hawaiian finches”), and we stopped for dinner at the Kula Lodge

The main thing I learned from this trip – marine scientists love to play bocce ball! This trip was a great way to get to know all of the people who I will be working with in the field for the next month and a half.

Work starts bright and early tomorrow morning! Wish me luck!