Ascent of Haleakala on 2019-01-31

Climber: Rafee Memon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, January 31, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:10023 ft / 3055 m

Ascent Trip Report

I was in Maui for a few days hanging out with my parents and, naturally, was looking for something to hike. The obvious choice was Haleakala, which I had summited a couple times via the road when I was younger. One was a great tour to watch the sunrise and bike down to the beach, which is no longer run from the very summit. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to ascend the peak in the only "proper" way imaginable: as a day hike from the beach. It would involve ascending 10,000 feet over nearly 20 miles from Kaupo, but I would have the great advantage of my parents picking me up from the top after bird watching on the other side of the mountain. The weather forecast wasn't favorable for any of the days I would be on the island, but I picked what looked to be the best day and accepted my soggy fate.

We left from the rainy north side of the island around 5am and drove to Kaupo along the lonely narrow road on the dry south side of the island. My parents dropped me off at the Huialoha Church in Kaupo around 6:30am. The road was gated, but an attendant arrived a few minutes later. We chatted for a few minutes, and after telling her of my plans, she gave me some advice for navigating around the farm near the proper trailhead; namely, that I should use a stick to fend off the guard dogs at the farm. I went down to the beach, dipped my hand in the water, and started back up the road to the trailhead. The sun was out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day on the coast, but the ridges above were ominously shrouded in clouds.

Upon reaching the farm, I continued up the obvious track, after which a few workers starting the day directed me to the hiker's trail leading into a mess of shrubs and debris. Frustrated, I picked my way through the branches, eventually skirting the outside of the farm's fence to a chorus of barking in the distance. Perhaps I could have slipped through had I arrived a few minutes earlier. I made it back onto the proper four-wheeler track and felt like I was making quick progress again.

I worked my way upwards and entered the national park, where my experience quickly deteriorated. The trail was overgrown with tall grass that was doing a great job of retaining moisture from the previous days' rains. My shoes became quickly soaked, and I would not know dry feet again for the rest of the hike. I lost the trail a couple times, at one point working through a densely covered drainage where I startled a group of wild boar. By now, the weather was mostly a steady drizzle. There were periods of sunshine that were long enough to get my hopes up that maybe I would finally catch a break, but soon enough the rain would start back up.

The vegetation thinned out, and I reached the trail junction to the Paliku Cabin at 10:38am. I stopped for about ten minutes to eat a sandwich, put on my rain slicker, and contemplate the day now that it was about halfway done. Under any other circumstance, I would've aborted the hike long before now. I didn't want to make my family drive the whole way back to Kaupo, and I figured that descending back to the beach would be about as miserable as finishing the ascent. Like I had already done a handful of times on the hike, I gathered myself and pressed onward.

The next few miles of trail along the base of the Haleakala crater were quite pleasant, as the grade of the trail was shallow and the sun shone brightly. However, as I hiked deeper into the crater, the clouds finally won the battle, and I was at the mercy of relentless wind and rain for the rest of the ascent. Supposedly the most beautiful part of the trail, I couldn't see further than a few hundred feet through the fog and rain. After what felt like an eternity, I reached the summit road and continued to the top of Red Hill. The many cars that passed me, with their occupants dry, warm, and comfortable, surely thought that I was a madman. I wondered if they weren't so wrong.

I entered the summit shelter at 2:05pm, took a few photos, and slipped into a daze as I recovered from the previous seven and a half hours. As I prepared to walk the final mile down to the visitor center where I would meet my family, I struck up a conversation with a family from Utah. They offered to give me a ride back down; I initially declined, but figuring that I had summited the way I wanted and the additional mile of descent didn't matter, I eventually accepted after their insistence. After I got into my parents' car, I stripped off all of my wet clothes and shivered uncontrollably for the next fifteen minutes. We started the drive back down after I was dry and somewhat warm. I ate a healthy portion of greasy potato chips and was feeling back to normal by the time we reached the house.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:10023 ft / 3055 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Raining, Cold, Very Windy, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:10023 ft / 3055 m
    Distance:19 mi / 30.6 km
    Route:Sea to Sky
    Start Trailhead:Beach by Huialoha Church  0 ft / 0 m
    Time:7 Hours 25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rafee Memon
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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