haleakala death march.
ok. i’m exaggerating. it was actually really beautiful, and not at all a death march. it was a nice clear day. very warm in the sun, very cool in the shade (which only existed near the end of the hike where you climb up some switchbacks and under the pee tree). first we took the windy road up up up. luckily we stopped a few places along the way (gale’s work to meet his coworkers – where he harassed danielle and made her drive us up to science city and then drop us at the sliding sands trailhead) or i probably would have lost my breakfast of baked bananas.
our tourguide/haleakala terrorist (see pics coming) gale:
he is from georgia (go dawgs, sic ’em woof! woof!) and came to alaska to live with our family during the summers to work (cannery, fishing, etc). he is my mom’s cousin. his first summer in wrangell was when my mom was still pregnant with ethan in 1990. he was a huge part of our childhood. i can’t believe he kept coming back and then he and margaret (brave woman!) eventually stayed. i can’t imagine dealing with a bunch of kids in your space, dealing with my dad, living on an island with no road out, and working the crazy shifts at the cannery. we drove him crazy. but we were always laughing around him, at him, with him.
gale’s playground. the beginning:
the trail is mostly downhill or flat until you reach the switchbacks at the end. there is maybe a gently sloping hill or two in between. as we were coming down (maybe in our first hour) we came across a couple from pennsylvania who looked like they were about to die. literally. the guy couldn’t even stand up. they were both dehydrated (they came to watch the sunrise and didn’t realize it was going to take so long to go back up and how much the temperature was going to change as soon as the sun came up). we gave them a bottle of water, which the guy tried to pay us for. gale said there are a lot of hikers that bust their butts downhill and then when they have to come back up, they are out of water and exhausted. it’s really dry in the crater so you don’t really sweat because it’s evaporating so quickly. people don’t realize how quickly you become dehydrated.
we came down the hill in the background in the following picture. break time at the lone tree that everyone pees on (tree is not in picture):
buku is very confused which sign he should be flashing:
just past holua cabin. almost to the switchbacks. only a few more miles to go (note that buku has put on his “turban” as ethan likes to call it):
the beginning of the switchbacks. i have spf 85 ( i don’t think i’ve ever worn more than spf 15) on, and came out with only a little redness on a spot i missed on my neck.
terrorists! buku, still confused w/the sign:
we climbed up this. and we still aren’t done. these switchbacks are greater in distance, but don’t compare to the steepness of angel falls trail in zion national park:
the fence that gale helped build to keep the pests (deer, goats) out:
at the end. i thought this sign was funny:
we made it to the van where we had a celebratory bag of cheetos, a heater (when the sun goes down, it is cold and windy up there) and extra water:
then we rushed to find a good spot to enjoy the sunset. the shadow of the mountain as the sun sets:
what a beautiful day.