Our Hawaiian vacation feels like a distant memory and with 3623 images to cull, no wonder I haven't completed the task yet! We were so blessed to be able to venture to Maui at the end of January and introduce ourselves to the tropical getaway trend. Yes, I could get used to that every year! With vitamin D supplies depleted, the warmth and sunshine was like reuniting with a long lost friend. As the temperatures continued to dip into the -30's and even -40's back home, we were enjoying walks on the beach and the warm ocean breeze. I'll continue to work through my images and reminisce about our lovely winter getaway. Today, I'm retracing our steps up Haleakala - where we wished we had brought a couple more layers from winterland!
On January 31st we woke up very early to make our way up to the crater of the massive shield volcano that makes up most of Maui - Haleakala. We drove in the dark, winding up... and up... and up to 10,023 feet. Once at the summit we bundled up with every layer we brought (including a beach towel) to brave the chilly temperatures and howling wind. All this fuss to await the sunrise. But we had also planned to arrive early enough to take in the night sky as well. It was an incredible sight. Being so high up, we were treated to a display of the universe like we'd never seen before. The number of stars visible to the naked eye was astounding. Plus, coming early meant that we were able to stake out the best place for viewing before the crowds pressed in. In the first image I was looking down at the visitor centre, watching the chaos of vehicles arriving to also await the sun's rising. Then I had a little fun composing images as the passing vehicles created light trails in my long exposures. With every passing minute the sky changed and the warm orange glow of the sun quickly appeared behind the clouds.
One of the special elements of watching the sunrise at Haleakala, is that you are watching the sun come up above the clouds. Being so high up it feels like you have a heavenly vantage point. I understand that on some mornings you can be completely clouded in! As you can see, the clouds were hovering around the outside of the summit and they moved very quickly. Then, as the sun began to peak out, the excitement in the crowd was palatable. I was filled with such awe and gratitude to be able to witness this sight!
I worked to capture each moment and have narrowed it down to the 6 below to give you a taste of our experience. I am a huge fan of shooting directly into the sun in order to create images that depict the warmth of being blanketed in the sun's rays - and this morning, in particular, my favourite images were the ones where I broke "the rules", purposefully blowing out the light and creating lens flare. I can still feel how the sun instantaneously warmed us up as it emerged through the clouds. I hope you can feel it too! It was delicious.
Okay - so now what? The mass of people barely waited for the sun to appear before they were back in their vehicles, likely heading down to the beach (or perhaps back to bed). I have experienced this so often in National Parks all over North America - and the stats confirm that only a fraction of the millions of visitors actually go beyond the closest lookout points. But, the upside to this is that it makes it easy to find some peace and quiet if you're willing to go a little further! On this morning we found our refuge from the crowds on the Keoneheehee Trail (or Sliding Sands Trail) - although the parking lot was also very quiet in the daylight!
Looks were certainly deceiving. This clearly visible trail down into the valley of the cinder cones was much more challenging than it appeared. (There's a person walking up the hill about 1/4 of the way in on the right side of the image just to give you an idea of the deceiving scale. Truly, he is there - I zoomed in to confirm!) The elevation made the simple task of breathing much more strenuous, as well. But still, it was more than worth it. We kept commenting that it felt like we were exploring Mars. The barren landscape, the colour of the earth, the cinder cones, the clouds... very outer-worldly. On the photography side of things, the harsh light of the sun, which was quite high by this point, was a challenge to manage. Nothing like a challenge to stretch your creativity muscles! It would be valuable to travel up there again to experience the crater with the softer first or last light of the day. If you find yourself in Maui, I highly recommend taking the time to venture up the crater - at any time of day or night!