Hiking Haleakala Crater- Day Two of epic adventure.

An unearthly golden glow, the sunrise,  wakes me. The cabin is warm, the stove crackles with fresh wood and I smell coffee–and I remember why I love this man. I get out of the down sleeping bag  borrowed from our friends at the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project (along with the backpacks) and, coffee in hand, step out into the chill of glorious sunrise in Haleakala Crater.

There's no sound but the click of one of Mike's cameras, set on auto and aimed at a sun-streaked ridge. I look around in the still cold of the air, and I think I see him–a knob on top of one of the cinder cones. It might not be him, but its fun to imagine it is.

Ah, coffee. the elixir of life. I miss my electronics a little, but I find some comfort that I'm not TOO addicted; I just wish I could post an Instagram of this fabulous scene. I sip, and journal, and watch the sun come up. It's my idea of heaven.

The knob on the crest isn't Mike. He's walking toward me now that the sunrise has spent its glory, with the stiff gait that tells me he was a little too long for the bunk bed last night, and all that walking in sand with a 40 pound backpack is having an effect.


Four more miles across the crater floor, up and down cinder cones, along ridges of black, frozen lava. I look around for the thousandth time.

What no photo seems to convey, what looking from the rim at the tourist stops can't tell you, is the UTTER SCOPE AND VASTNESS of this place. It's an ever-changing kaleidoscope of dramatic views that's impossible to get any other way than paying the price of hiking.

Today we walked up and down mountains of black sand, along cliffs of cinders in the rainbow tones of melted crayons. Every hundred yards was some completely new, spectacular combination of vivid colors, arc of space and sky, and land rendered to its purest forms in rock, cinder and sand.

The silverswords pop up everywhere, whimsical grace notes, punctuation marks of irreverent perfection, each one both random and symmetrical. Nearer the second cabin, Holua, rugged vegetation began–yellow mamane bushes and hardy pukiawe along with hardy grasses. Clouds roll up this side of the mountain every afternoon, and provide enough moisture for gradual process of taming the rock into soil.

My calves are not happy when we arrive at our second destination, Holua Cabin. We are greeted by a pair of nene geese, tame as housecats, that come up to greet us with soft whuffling honks- actually sounding like little, swallowed snorts.

They're such lovely colors–a buff like an English soldier's waistcoat, black and cream barring, and pearly dawn-gray backs. I sit, immobilized by tiredness, on surprisingly plushy green grass and the birds chortle and graze within inches of me. I get up and go to the water pump, and splash my face and hands. They follow me, and drink the falling drops straight from source, their chocolate eyes blinking and delicate beaks clacking.

So glad these birds are fighting their way back from extinction.

I told Mike I'd love hiking if it weren't for the backpacks, and he said he'd love it if it weren't for the hiking. So between us, I don't think there's any danger we're going to ever be hard-core backpackers.

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