Undaunted by the previous day’s abortive attempt to climb to the Haleakala Crater, we began our drive in sunshine and beautiful, clear skies with views of the summit from below.
Extinction is a big problem in Hawaii and it’s a sobering thought that most extinctions in the USA happened here. Life, indigenous to these islands, evolved away from potential competitors on the mainland and developed some interesting adaptations. Some birds were flightless, others nested on the ground in the absence of serious predators. Then, with the introduction of mankind to these islands, came others species of plant and animal. This, of course led to one thing – predation and potential extinction for the local wildlife, which was unable to cope with the new threat, brought on in such a short space of time.
One plant, native only to Haleakala, is the Ahinahina, or Haleakala Silversword.
We were seeing this for the first time and would probably never see it again. Beautiful and unique, the Silversword lives for between 15 and 50 years and only blooms once in its lifetime, producing long stems, as tall as a man, with tine purple, red or yellow flowers. None were in bloom today so you will have to ask The Google if you want to see flowering Silverswords. Here’s what one looks like once it has died.
At 10,000 feet, the air is thin and clear – perfect for star gazing – and that’s why there’s an observatory just below the summit. It is said that the telescope here can track a basketball from 20,000 miles away.
Haleakala crater is not actually a crater in the truest sense but has been filled and refilled due to multiple eruptions over thousands of years. The little mounds in the photo below are the remnants of individual eruptions and each one has its own true crater within. The landscape is other-worldly, like a Martian landscape as far I know.
What a privilege to be alive to witness this place at this time in history.
We had a plane to catch so, reluctantly, we left Maui, our favourite of the islands so far.