It was 3 AM and we began our trek up the Haleakala Mountain for a glimpse of the sunrise at 10,000 feet. It was about 30 degrees at the summit that morning, colder than one would ever think, when talking about a Maui sunrise.
The five of us huddled together, wrapped in warm wool blankets we borrowed from the Yoga Chalet of the resort we were staying at. The idea that just a few short hours ago, we could be found basking in the beautiful blue Maui Ocean seemed ludicrous as we shivered, awaiting for the sun to make its mark on the day. She did not disappoint.
Haleakala National Park is home to Maui’s highest peak. Haleakala is the Hawaiian word meaning “House of the Sun” and is where Ancient Hawaiians believed their demigod Maui lassoed the sun so that it would slow down, allowing the people more time to dry cloth and grow food.
Because the summit is so high above the island, light from nearby towns does not reach it, neither does the pollution from the city. This makes it an ideal place to watch the Sun set the stage for the day, as it rises from below the crowds, right before your very eyes.
In the late 1800’s, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote
“It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always.”
This view has been a popular attraction, drawing nearly 1.9M visitors annual and forcing the park to limit the number of daily sun rise guests.
The sun rose at 0541, this May morning and as the flashes of brilliant purples, pinks and golden colors lit up the morning sky, I felt as though the sun was putting on a special performance just for those of us who rose early enough to beat the traffic to the summit.
What an amazing sight. These pictures do not even come close to showing you what I saw with my own eyes, the colors from the camera do not have the same crisp quality as seeing them up close and personal.
Maybe it was the hour, maybe it was the cold, but the 5 of us grew silent as she made her grand entrance and began to light up the sky. You could literally hear tears drop as we each witnessed this miraculous sight.
There was something very spiritual about it. Something awe-inspiring. We really are very tiny creatures in the grand scheme of things and no matter how big our problems may seem to us, sights like this can tame even the wildest beasts soul.
If you have the opportunity to travel to Maui, the Haleakala sunrise is a not-to-be-missed attraction. Yes, you have to get up very early to find a spot. Yes, you have to make reservations before you go. Yes, it is cold at 10,000 feet elevation, even in Hawaii. It is worth every bit of it!
While the beaches of Maui are the real draw for most visitors, my week long Maui retreat was punctuated by this very cold, very early, very high morning, where the sun came out to greet me above the clouds.
While my regular readers will know that I am agnostic, I believe this experience at Haleakala was about as close to heaven on earth as one can get!