Haleakala Silversword

Haleakala SilverswordA couple of years ago (in our single days) we were fortunate enough to get to travel to Maui and stay with some friends.  While we were there, we took a day to visit Haleakala and take a horseback riding tour of the crater.  Unlike most horseback tours that I’ve been on, this one was worth every penny, even though it was twice as expensive as the others.  They tell you the tour is four hours, but it’s more like 6 or 7 hours.  No complaints from us though.

There is a plant called the Haleakala Silversword that is only found within the crater of the volcano.  Silverswords are related to the sunflowers that all of us are familiar with, but are very unique plants.  Silverswords usually grow for years, like 30/40/50 years, as a sphere that’s low to the ground.  Each year, in June/July, a few Silverswords in the crater will grow a long flowery stalk, and once this occurs the plant dies.  The dead plant still retains its stalk, but it’s obviously dead

Three Stages of Haleakala SilverswordsHaleakala is littered with dead Silverswords, and there are lots of the live, sphere shaped plants to be seen as well.  We were lucky to have an opportunity to go into the crater while the Silverswords were flowering–just seeing that in itself is pretty rare.  But we were able to get a once in a lifetime photo while we were there.  Here, in one frame, is an example of the Silversword in each one of its stages.  This may be the only photo of a plant I think is actually very exciting.

West Maui–June 2006

Cows Grazing West MauiWe went over to Oahu and stayed in Honolulu for a couple of days. When we came back we got a rental car and drove back to my friends’ house by going around West Maui. It was a one lane road for most of the trip. Unbelievable scenery. We spent more time out of the car looking at things than we did in the car.

Our strategy for the drive was to stop when we saw something cool or if we saw a “local” car pulled over somewhere. This worked out great–got to see a couple of really cool things that weren’t in any book we’d seen.

We drove counterclockwise around West Maui in order to end up at my friends’ house. For the first part of the drive we saw a couple of ecotour vans that were taking people on hikes, so we’d get out there and follow the trail. We saw some really nice waterfalls and there weren’t many people at all.

We’d later find out that West Maui isn’t nearly as traffic ridden as the road to Hana. As is true with most things, fewer people made it better.The picture to the left is probably the coolest spot we saw on the drive. There was a local car parked beside the road, so we jumped out and looked for a trail. It took a while for us to find the small little path to walk down, and we eventually had to climb down a bunch of rocks to get to the water.

To give some perspective, this photo was taken from the road. There’s a girl playing on the rocks while her dad fishes…can you see her?

The next day we took the Hana Highway, camped overnight, and drove all the way around Haleakala on the other side of Maui.