By Samantha Fricano
The darkness envelops the sky. The only source of light is the dim glow of the headlights as we drive along the winding road 10,000 feet up the mountain. One wrong move and the car would plummet off the mountain and plunge into the menacing ocean below. The car emerges at the peak. The sky is becoming dim and the air is cool and crisp as we walk to the edge of the mountain and gaze down into the Haleakala crater.
The Haleakala crater is the enormous mouth of Maui’s largest volcano located in Maui Hawaii. Legend says around 120,000-150,000 years ago, when the crater was formed, the Haleakala crater was home to the demigod ¨Maui’s¨ grandmother. His grandmother helped him capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day. Therefore, the crater was named ¨Haleakala,¨ meaning “house of the sun.”
The now-dormant volcano, which emerged from the Pacific Ocean more than one million years ago, takes up fully three-quarters of Maui’s landmass. Scientists refer to the crater as an ¨erosional depression¨ because it was created not by eruption but by erosion. Hawaiian history suggests the last eruption was between the years 1480 and 1780.
The Haleakala crater is now the most famous part of the Haleakala national park visited by thousands of people every year. My family visited the crater several months ago and I can say from experience it is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
¨The Haleakala crater is literally the most amazing sight to see,¨ said visitor Sue Fricano. ¨Not many people think to go there but when you do you will not believe your eyes, I am still in awe,¨
There are several different times to view the crater. However, any review you will read on a travel site raves about watching the sun rise from the peak of the crater.
¨I have been to the crater twice, once while watching the sunrise and once during the day,¨ said another visitor of the landmark, Chris Ignoffo. “I would definitely recommend going to watch the sunrise. It was amazing watching the sun rise above the rocks and seeing the entire crater light up.”
The beauty of watching the sun rise from 10,023 feet in the air is something that is unforgettable. Being so high in the air, it is a long trip up the mountain. Here are some things you might need to know while making your trek up the mountain.
The first thing you should know is that even though you are in Maui, the temperature at the summit of the crater is freezing.
¨The air is thin, the winds howl, and the temperature is so cold that it feels like razor blades on your face,¨ said two-time visitor of the site, Cheryl Givens.
Needless to say, you’re going to need to bring a jacket with you and a blanket wouldn’t be a bad idea as well. If you get carsick easily you might want to take some medicine before beginning the long winding road up the mountain. It is a long ride taking around 70 minutes and you are constantly twisting and turning along steep roads.
Another thing you should watch for is the cattle. While you’re riding up the mountain you will without a doubt see some cows on your way up!
Just reading about the crater doesn’t do it justice. When you walk to the edge of the crater and watch as the sun rises above the rocks it is a sight you will never forget. The wind is whipping through my hair and the air smells fresh but it’s not the same as down below. It’s almost as if the air is cleaner. A blanket of soft clouds masks the crater and the sky has an ombre effect as it goes from navy blue to turquoise to a luminous yellow-orange. A golden yellow color gradually creeps upon the sky turning the navy blue and turquoise colors into a baby blue that fades into yellow.
¨It was so cool seeing the sky light up,¨ said visitor of the site, Megan Ignoffo. ¨It was like God had his fingers on a dimmer switch!¨
Then all of a sudden before our eyes the sun peeked over the clouds. We stared at its blinding beauty as the clouds began to part and the crimson and orange colors of the crater twirled and danced in the light. It rose further into the sky as the navy blue colors of the darkness vanished into the air. The sun broke through the clouds, effulgent in the sky. The sun came completely above the clouds with its mighty rays fanning above the crater, and the world lit up before our eyes.
¨Everyone seems to want to absorb what just happened before they even consider taking out a camera,¨ said first-time visitor, Reno Fricano. ¨For a moment I think everyone forgot they even had a camera or a phone!¨
If anyone is taking a vacation to the Maui area I completely recommend going to the peak of the crater. Visiting the Haleakala crater is truly a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.
By Samantha Fricano