Maui, Hawaii 2009
Becky and I took a cruise in Hawaii during the summer of 2009. Two of those days we spent on the beautiful island of Maui. There we explored the Haleakala Crater and drove the Hana road to see the “Black Sand” beaches.
Deep beneath the Pacific Ocean, a part of the Earth is moving northwest. As it does, it is laying down volcanic hot spots, which act as open wounds going straight to the Earth’s core. Magma bleeds from these lesions, welling upward, where it eventually breaks the surface as volcanic islands. Along the Pacific Plate the process has developed a chain of islands from Hawaii toward Japan. One of the islands is Maui, (in the Hawaiian group), which began as two separate volcanoes that gradually merged together.
The larger volcano of the two is Haleakala, which rose 9,144 m from the ocean floor to 3,600 m above sea level.
Maui’s “sleeping” volcano last erupted around 1790, when two lava flows reached the southwest coast of Maui.
Today the activity of the Pacific Plate has moved on, and Haleakala is now dormant and destined to become extinct, though tremors and earthquakes are still recorded in the area.
The Haleakala volcano was cool and studded with old cones traced with past flows of red, yellow, gray and black basalt, ash, and cinder cones.
Years of rains have created large ampitheaters near the summit and further cleft the flanks of the mountain with deep erosional scars. Only the hardiest of shrubs survive at the top of the Haleakala Volcano at the crater. The rain is absorbed by the dry, porous volcanic rock.
Pictured above, the silvery hairs, fleshy leaves, and low-growing rosette form of the Haleakala silversword allow it to survive in hot, dry climates like the aeolian desert cinder slopes of the Haleakala Crater. Silverswords live between 3 and 90 years or more. They flower once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk, and then die soon afterward, scattering drying seeds to the wind.
Additionally, Becky and I rented a small car to explore the Highway to Hana. The Hana Highway was a 104 km-long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 which connects Kahului to the town of Hana in east Maui. We only had the time to reach Wai’anapanapa State Park and return to the Cruise Ship.
Aptly dubbed “The Divorce Highway,” the Road to Hana has an exhausting, and many times harrowing, 617 hairpin curves and 59 unforgiving one-lane bridges, not to mention an incredible number of blind spots along the way. And, since the speed limit is 25 mph or less the entire way, (with few to no stops), and that’s without encountering any traffic or other diversions.
Pictured above, the Wai’anapanapa State Park had a real Hawaiian treasure. The most immediately noticeable feature to the 120-acres that make up Wai’anapanapa State Park is the black sand beach named Pa’iloa. The “black-sand beach” was created by thousands of years of surf repeatedly pounding on a geologically fresh lava flow basalt.
The translation for Wai’anapanapa is “glistening water” or “water flashing rainbow hues”, both of which are accurate in describing the powerful contrast between the black, pebble lava field and the deep blue-greens of the ocean.
Pictured above, the beach was small with an ocean cave on the east side that we traveled through to the ocean. The cave was the scene of tragic legend that ended in Popo’alaea’s murder. She was the wife of Chief Ka’akea, of whom she ran away from due to his cruelty. She and her attendant hid in the cave until her reflection was seen by Ka’akea. Every spring, on the night of Ku, red shrimp cover the cave floors making it blood red. This marks the anniversary of Ka’akea’s bloody murder of his wife and friend.