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A BUCKET-LIST RIDE UP HALEAKALĀ CRATER
I recently returned from Maui, one of the best vacations I’ve ever had the pleasure of going on. After several days spent lounging in the sunshine, exploring the beaches, and especially mountain biking, I’m back to work, totally refreshed. In Hawaii, there’s a famous volcanic summit called Haleakalā Crater, which peaks at a height of 10,023 feet. The geologic structure is a massive shield volcano that forms the foundation of all of Maui. For a long time now, I’ve dreamed of biking up Crater Road to behold the summit of this enormous volcano, and on this trip, I got to cross it off my bucket list. The week before I left, I called a bike shop called Maui Cyclery to ask if they had any group rides going up the mountain while I would be there. Lo and behold, they had one on Thursday, so I rented a bike and paid the fees. I showed up in the rustic little Hawaiian town of Paia, early in the morning, to get ready for the ride. They opened up the shop and fitted me for a bike. With three of us on the ride, we started off at a pretty good clip on our trek to the summit of Haleakalā. After leaving Paia and passing through another small town, the landscape turned strictly to rolling vegetation and rural greenery
spreading in all directions. Soon we were on Haleakalā Highway. After quick stop at the convenience store to stock up Ed — the guy who was storing our water and snacks — with the essentials, we were on our way to the true climb. Every 500 feet of elevation, the environment we were riding through changed subtly. Temperatures dropped, the air thinned out, the foliage shifted and slowly faded away, and the wind picked up. At 7,500 feet, our driver had to stop, because he was a commercial vehicle and wasn’t allowed in the Haleakalā park proper. So, we took a brief break, filled up our water bottles, and grabbed protein bars. I thought to myself, “Well, we’re already at 7,500, so we’re three-quarters of the way there!” But little did I know, this was where the climb got interesting. As we continued on, the winds really began to lift, with the side winds in particular really making things rough. On the side of this volcanic mountain, we began in thickly wooded pine trees and eventually rose to a rocky, desolate landscape with little vegetation to shield us from the winds. I donned the paper- thin jacket I’d brought along to insulate myself from the cold and pedaled on.
Not too long after leaving Ed behind, I realized I was running out of water. I’d
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