06 January 2011
One of our last days in Hawaii J and I took a daytrip with the kiddos up to Haleakala National Park, the big crater in the middle of Maui. We wanted to see a wild Sandalwood tree (J's Master's thesis study organism), some Silverswords (plants native to Hawaii, some of which are endangered), and some Nene (Hawaiian Geese). We struck out on the Nene, but found some introduced Chukar near the top of the crater. I grumbled a little about the chukar, as a guy had pointed us to the trail saying "There's some Nene right over there!" Oh well.
The sandalwood was everything J had hoped, and even had some bracken fern (his PhD study organism) growing up and out of it. We stopped and botanized in the subalpine zone, where I would definitely spend more time given the opportunity. We saw some Vaccinium (Hawaiian huckleberries), a bunch of neat leguminous shrubs, and even found a cute yellow-faced solitary bee!
The silverswords were beautiful, especially in the near-barren alpine zone where they grow. The visitor center at the top is just short of 10,000 feet elevation, and you can see everything from up there. We could see the ocean all around the island, and some of the nearby islands. It was beautiful. I'm glad we decided to head up country because we got to see some beautiful areas and explore some ecosystems that are very different from the beach.
On the long, winding drive up the mountain we saw some hitchhikers with longboards and helmet-cams, and realized they had just done something like this:
We totally would have picked up the guys just to hear their story, but with the carseats and kiddos we didn't have room for them. Bummer.
A little farther up the mountain we saw another pair of guys coming down on their longboards. Looked a little scary, but definitely a rush. The road is perfect for this; it's nice and smooth, long, well maintained, and low traffic. I'm under orders from my mom to not tell my brother about this.
Pretty amazing, don't you think?