We left our home on Friday afternoon December 20th and arrived at Charlotte Douglas Airport to begin our 2013 winter national park family vacation. We were very excited since we were flying to Hawai’i. It was to be our 49th state to visit. Our first issue came quickly when Bill and Winston got stopped during security. Our sausage rolls looked suspicious and their bags were searched. After the issue was resolved we relaxed and waited for our 8:00 pm departure.
Our three hour layover was in Las Vegas. Alisa played slot machines in the terminal and doubled her money. The boys think she is addicted to gambling, but she just enjoys the game. We flew to Honolulu the next day on the 21st at 1:45 am and landed before sunrise. Finally, after a brief layover we traveled on our third flight and landed at the Kahului Airport on the island of Maui.
We rented a car and drove for over two hours East along the scenic Hana highway. When we arrived at the Kipahulu visitor center in Haleakala National Park it was time for celebration. Luke and Winston canceled their national park passport and cheered as it was our 48th together as a family. Out first hike was the Pipiwai trail to see an awesome site over 400 feet called Waimoku falls. Along the way we saw a few more terrific waterfalls and walked through the rainforest full of bamboo and other native trees.
We spent several hours exploring this section of the park. The other side of the trail led to the coast and the Pools at Ohe’o. The beauty was breathtaking and our mood was beyond joyful. On our way to our hotel at Kula Lodge we drove another two hours on State Hwy 31. It was mostly a one lane twisting road. It was thrilling for Bill to drive and we saw a lot of the seashore. It was late and we were exhausted when we settled into our room. We ate some of the sausage we brought and purchased chips, crackers, and fruit at the market next door for dinner.
It was about 3:00 am on Sunday the 22nd when Bill first woke up. We got our hiking gear and supplies packed. It is always imperative for us to make sure that we have everything we need for a long day in a national park. We drove to the Haleakala visitor which is over 10,000 feet in elevation and watched the sunrise. We were cold since the temperature was about 39 degrees. As we were covered closely together in a blanket, the sun lifted over a mountain and the winter solstice began.
We were filled with energy from the excitement of our latest adventure. We descended down on our 13 mile hike. We started on the Keonehe’ehe’e (sliding sands) trail and layers of clothing slowly came off as the sunshine warmed our bodies. The views of the cinder cones and craters were amazing. We took off our boots and relaxed as we ate lunch on black sand that felt great between our toes.
On our way back we continued in a loop on the Halemau’u trail. The clouds thickened and no matter how much we prayed it began to rain on us. We only had a few miles left to get to the car. However, we had to ascend about 2,000 feet. The weather turned colder and soon we ran out of water. The struggle to finish the expedition was tough. We motivated ourselves with a game. Each of us took a turn to lead and we set a timer for five minutes. After the alarm sounded our reward was to rest for one minute. The game did not last long after the rain started to become heavier. Finally, we just put our head down and marched uphill to the visitor center.
It was about 4:00 pm and we were freezing. Quickly, we changed into some dry clothes we packed in the trunk. We always try and be as prepared as possible. Sitting in the car we turned the heat on full blast. The rental car even had heated seats. The parking lot was almost empty since the visitor center was closed. So we refilled and replenished ourselves with water as we drove down the mountain.
As the elevation changed, so did the weather. Our lodge was was about 4000 feet lower then the summit. We unpacked, showered and watched the sunset on our porch. Birds were chirping as we drank hot tea and stretched our legs. We hung up all our wet gear and as a day ended we ate dinner from the general store again. This time is was soup, pizza rolls, Ramen noodles, cookies, and a Hawaiian chocolate bar.