Haleakala Hike Part II (July 16, 2015)

Continued from Part I... 

Our lunch spot was probably the most desert-like and otherworldly place on the hike. I barely sat down to rest even though we were 6 miles into the hike, with another 7+ to go, including dropping about 800 feet, then gaining back another 1,300+ feet.

Another mile down the trail we found we were walking through old lava flows.

We were about to drop down our lowest point were we expected find more vegetation, especially grasses.

Susan, ahead of me on the trail

Now we were hiking in thick vegetation, bushes and grasses, all around us. We were getting fairly close to the Holua primitive cabins, where we thought we might take a break.

Now we saw bushes like these all around us, along with a lot of grasses

Hearing squawking, we looked up to see these three Nenes flying by. They're the Hawaii state bird.

Holua Wilderness cabins

As we approached the cabins and saw no activity around them, we saw a sign explaining they were closed for two days for ant bait application! So much for taking a break here on this hike.

At this point, we're about 8 miles into the hike and we were nearing our lowest point, 3,200 feet lower than where we started. But not only do we have another 4 miles of hiking, we have to gain back almost 1,400 feet to get back to the trailhead where our car is waiting.

The elevation (blue) and speed (red) profile for our hike

Susan on the trail, about our lowest point, about 6,600 feet

After a quick break, we forged on past the Holua cabins, passed through a gate, and then saw the hills with all the steep switchbacks we'd be taking to gain the remaining elevation.

The trail heading towards the switchbacks

Susan about to round a switchback

As we powered up the trail, we rounded one switchback and found a lone Nene (aka Hawaiian Goose) perched on a rock just below the curve of the switchback. Surprisingly, he wasn't skittish at all and let us approach pretty closely, and seemed to enjoy posing for us.

Nene on a rock at lower right, with the trail we came up on

Nene perched on a rock, trying to look raptor-like? :-)

The higher we climbed, the bigger our views got, not just of the grassland to the south, but also big panoramic views out to the ocean to the east.

Pano looking mostly east

We also gained enough elevation look back down on many of the switchbacks we'd just climbed.

The trail we'd just come up

The view back toward the south
We were getting pretty tired now after all the elevation gain 12+ miles into the hike, but we were almost done.

Our first glimpse of the parking lot at the trailhead!

We enjoyed this sign at the end of the hike, giving a "conceptual view" of what we'd just finished!

Our hike, starting at center right, going counter-clockwise

And here's the map view of our hike.

GPS track of our hike in the "crater". Starts at lower left. 

This was a difficult hike, but well worth the effort! A very unique experience and perhaps one of our best ever hikes.

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