Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Haleakala Crater Rim to Kaupo Ranch

July 4th, 2011

Bucket List: a list of dumb things you decide you’ll do before you die.

Yesterday’s great adventure was a bucket list item: a day hike from Haleakala National Park’s crater rim visitor center, elevation 9,750-feet, to the Kaupo Trailhead, 17+ miles away, at an elevation of 950-feet.

Yes, it was all downhill, and yes, downhill is really, really hard after the first ten miles.

Here, at the start: my husband Ron and I, prepared for high-elevation sun. It’s 9:30am:

Point zero: initiate
This is the first half of where we’re going:

Stage 1 complete: We’ve descended a little over 3000′ and reached the crater floor. Photo shows the next segment, a flat stretch to Kapalaoa Cabin:

Stage 2 complete: That’s me outside of Kapalaoa Cabin, with the trail continuing behind me. Seven miles done so far. It’s 11:30am.

Stage 3 complete: Ron and I at the Paliku trail junction. We’ve seen four other people since the end of Stage 1. Two we met at this junction: a couple of young men who “touched the ocean” then headed uphill, making for the summit. At this point they were beginning to question their own judgment, but I’m sure they finished before we did.

We’ve done ten miles so far. Now the great descent begins. We will see no other people until our son picks us up at Kaupo Ranch.

Stage 4: the descent through Kaupo Gap, from Paliku to the park boundary. Here’s a look at where we’re going, though this photo does nothing to show the incredible beauty of this area:

Kaupo Gap is my favorite area of the park. It’s gorgeous, with a native forest that’s recovering nicely since the goats were eradicated from park lands. It’s also incredibly hard to get to, being a ten-mile hike from the visitor center, or a six to eight mile hike up the gap on a horribly steep trail in bad condition–and of course getting there is only half the story. You have to get out again.

We’ve got a ways to go yet:

Stage 5: the descent through the cow pastures. We’ve done about 14 miles so far. There’s a fence at the boundary between the park and Kaupo Ranch. The contrast between grazed and protected lands is, of course, profound. From now on, it’s cattle pastures:

We’ve got “only” three or four miles left to go, but we are not almost there by any means. This is by far the hardest part of the hike. The terrain is steep, we’re walking on a ranch road with treacherous sections covered with rolling rock, and our downhill muscles and joints have begun to take serious notice of the abuse. Our destination looks disturbingly far away:

I put my camera away and focused on getting down without twisting an ankle.

The last adventure of the day was wading through a herd of sixty-plus agitated cattle milling around the trailhead gate. Most were cows and calves. One was a bull. I was terrified. But they stood between us and the car, so we forged ahead and got through without incident. It was around 6:30pm, and our darling son had just arrived to pick us up.

Here’s a rough map of the day’s trek:

It was an interesting and challenging day, and we get to check an item off the bucket list, but in all honesty, I’m not feeling any compulsion to ever do it again!

Posted on: Monday, July 4th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
Categories: Hiking, Maui.
Tags: , , ,

5 Responses to “Haleakala Crater Rim to Kaupo Ranch”

  1. Glen Says:

    Eighteen miles in one hike??? I’m seriously impressed. You’re in very good shape, Linda.

  2. Glen Says:

    And so is Ron.

  3. Linda Says:

    I’m not in such great shape today! But I’m sure I’ll stop hobbling around the house real soon now. 🙂

  4. cristina Says:

    i just did the hike and your description is great. When you got to the cattle farm how did you eventually reach the road. did you stay alogn the fence?

  5. Linda Says:

    Hi Cristina–After going through the gate at the park boundary, we walked on the 4WD ranch road until we came on signs directing hikers to follow a trail away from the road. I think this is to guide hikers away from some of the houses in the area. This trail took us through trees, a section of cane grass, and then past a ranch house to the gate at the trailhead. Our son picked us up there, so were spared the walk down to the coastal highway.