Haleakala: Sunrise, Summit, and Sliding Sands

I figured no one had ever been to see the sunrise at Haleakala before, so I better do it and take photos. Certainly no one has ever taken photos of it before. Woke up: 3 AM. Left Kahana: 3:10 AM. Arrived at summit: 4:55 AM. Realized I should’ve slept another hour: 4:55 AM also. Nah, earlier. Probably more like 3:45 AM is when I realized it.

It’s cool that they close the pre-dawn gate once they’ve allowed enough cars into the park to fill the parking lots. Wind: strong. Dressed: warm. Slept in car while waiting in the parking lot: maybe half an hour. Sky started glowing: 6:10. Looked like:

Haleakala Summit before sunrise with Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa

This. It's Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (the Big Island) in the distance. Well, stars also in the distance. The implied sun is also distant.

Photos taken: 450 or something like that. For the entire day, not just the sunrise. Entire photo-day: spent at Haleakala.

I’m not a connoisseur of sunrises, so I don’t really know why this one is special, or if the particular one I saw was, in fact, special. It’s interesting to note, though, that the sky starts glowing 45 minutes before the sun actually crests the horizon.

haleakala sunrise

The sun, actually cresting the horizon.

To the naked eye, it was already broad daylight, though, no matter how that photo looks (I have some much darker ones taken much later — heck, I can take an under-exposed photo *any* time of day; it’s a talent I have).

Sunrise at Haleakala Summit in January

The sun: exposed.

I don’t know much about sunrises, but watching it at Haleakala brought me to a stark, sudden realization: the sun is one big ol’ bright, fiery round thing. Seriously.

Haleakala road at sunrise

Should've just uploaded this one and not the previous one. Oh well.

They also have an observatory at the summit that looks like it’d be a cool place to work. And windy! I didn’t see anyone working there, though.

haleakala summit observatory

No one.

Once the sun got finished rising and I walked around the summit a little (there were pink clouds, and a few rocks and ridges), I headed down to the visitors’ center and the crater to go hike along the Sliding Sands trail. It’s the trail that the now too-famous Maui Revealed guidebook says is The One Trail on Maui. Like, if you only hike one trail, it should be this one.

Sliding Sands Trail

The top part of the trail.

Silver Sword

Silver sword plants along the trail -- none in bloom.

Ka Luu o ka Oo Trail

I hiked to that place out there where the trail ends, Ka Luu o ka Oo. I think.

Haleakala Crater Lava Flows

The bottom of the non-crater crater.

Haleakala Crater

The crater within the crater.

horseback riding at haleakala

Scourges of the park trails.

colored sands at haleakala

*Swirling* Sands is more like it! (Har!)

Haleakala Crater Ledge

Seriously: if you could get a big river flowing off of that ledge? Dang near perfect. Alas.

Evidence that I was there.

  • It’s like walking on Mars (I imagine).
  • Except with oxygen and reasonable temperatures.
  • It’s also sort of like being at Death Valley.
  • Only it’s in Hawaii.
  • It’s kind of a tourist hike, although the more of a tourist you are, the sooner you turn around.
  • I also wish there were a rain forest at the bottom of the crater. I’m hoping to get final edit on all future terraforming activities.

Pretty scenery, so long as you like rocks (and sand). I ended up hiking maybe five or six miles total. Thing about the hike is: the best views are at the top. So the further down the crater you go, the more repetitive it becomes and the more you’re going to have to hike back up. It was pretty and, especially for what I’m used to seeing in Hawaii, unusual. But it seemed like the more effort you exerted, the less you got back from it. Diminishing returns is what they call that.

Done typing,



  • telkontar

    I actually preferred the first “exposed” sun photo. At last you are using the rule of thirds in composition. I ususally use my photo editing to impose the rule of thirds. No green flash before the “exposure” of the big gas ball? Is that what people go for?

    Isn’t “distant” a relative term? What is your basis — on a galaxy basis, the sun has propinquity to your position. Under relatviy, speed affects distance, too. I’m a little confused by your adjective usage.

  • telkontar


    Mrs. Telk says I am also not as funny as I think I am, so I’ve come to expect some apathy from my readership. Go public with a blog, and who knows what will be attracted.