I have a bad habit. I schedule optimistically. Especially when I’m on vacation and I want to do more than there is time for.
So, optimistically, I believed I could ride all the way to Hana and back, relax for a bit, then get to bed early enough to wake up at 3 AM for the ride up Haleakala. I made it, but the relaxation step never happened.
I got back to my hotel in time to get about 4 hours of sleep, and then it was up and at ‘em, in the predawn blackness of Maui’s west coast. I had read that it’s cold at the top of Haleakala, and I saw the pictures of the people bundled up at sunrise and still looking miserably cold, so I piled on all the clothes I had, including my motorcycle jacket and gloves. And, a helmet is, of course, a toasty kind of hat.
The ride up had a magical quality … it was very quiet along the coast and as I made the turn onto Haleakala Highway, the mountain loomed, utterly dark and barren, tiny pinpricks of light, waaay up high and in the distance, the only signs of human activity on the volcano. As I rode it got colder and colder. As I left the shelter of the lowlands the wind pierced my supposedly windproof gear, adding to the sense of unreality.
In daylight, on a machine I knew better, I would have loved the road, which hair pinned crazily up the mountain’s flank, but in the dark, on an unfamiliar bike, I took it slowly – from what little I could see the penalty for going off the road would be brutal and probably fatal. I was passed quite a few times by private cars and small tour buses on the way up – everyone on their way to see the Haleakala sunrise.
When I got to the top the cars and buses were disgorging their passengers. Some were complaining about the cold, which seemed a little unfair to me – after all, they had ridden to the top in fully heated comfort. But, no matter, we were all there for the same reason.
As we lined up on the rocks to await the sunrise, I was first annoyed by the chatter from some of the tourists, because I wanted this to be a contemplative experience, but once the sun started to peek over the clouds it really didn’t matter – everything else fell away and I was lost in the beauty of the moment.
I’ll let the pictures tell the rest:
The sun starts to peek over:
I was fascinated by the way the light made the clouds look like crenellations:
Now it’s fully light out:
I got the certificate. The helmet is functioning as a hat: