HALEAKALA, Hawaii // We had hiked Haleakala before, but never did we go from the top of the visitor center, all the way through the Kaupo Gap to the ocean below. As we liked to call it “summit to surf.” The first day was extremely overcast and on the ride up to the trailhead we doubted if we even wanted to attempt the entire hike. We got out of the car for 2 minutes to walk into the ranger station to pick up our permits and could feel the stinging cold and rain. We bundled up and I felt fortunate to have brought a rain coat and bag cover. After about an hour through the hike, the weather miraculously cleared up and we made it to Paliku cabin about 2 hours before sunset. We made tacos, played cards, started a fire in the stove to warm up, and settled into the bunks that were provided at the cabin.
The next day we were in good spirits when we started, but soon realized that the horrible weather from the previous day was here to stay. From the cabin to the end of the National Park took us about 2 hours longer than we thought. The terrain was all downhill and extremely slippery due to the rain. After 10 minutes of walking I was already soaked to the bone. Even my socks were wet which I knew would make for a long day of hiking since we had 9 miles still to go. But on the other hand if there wasn't any rain we wouldn't have seen all the waterfalls we did.
I didn't know what to expect of the Kaupo Gap section of the trail. Haleakala park tends to look like a moon walk, dry and sandy. Kaupo Gap is lush and overgrown with trees and surrounded on all sides by mountains and waterfalls. This also made the trail a bit hard to follow at times due to the lack of people who use the trail and the vegetation quickly overtaking the trail. We found ourselves constantly in thick grass at least waist deep and sometimes even over our heads. We ended up in cow fields and climbed over multiple barbed wire fences as we made our way down. Certain sections were also extremely rocky which made it tough to keep your balance on and I still thank our lucky stars no one rolled an ankle.
We also passed a few hikers who were going "surf to summit". Basically they were doing the exact opposite route we were doing. After looking at their faces I was happy we had chosen the downward direction.
All in it was a great adventure. Even with the rough terrain, rain, and poorly marked trail I would recommend it to certain people and would do it again myself. Sometimes the best memories we make and the ones that are the most priceless are also the ones that are the toughest to live through.
This post is dedicated to Mama Llama. You amaze me everyday with your will power to climb mountains! I love you!