A short easy stroll down along the park road brought us to the upper visitor center.
Upper Haleakala Visitor Center
Although we weren't absolutely sure which truck-and-horse trailer combo in the parking lot was Ted and Lois', there were only two - and the larger of the two was probably owned by those Pony Express people we saw back along the trail. That meant that Ted and Lois had probably not finished yet. A good excuse for a long break to see if they might show up. We freshened up, made some lunch, and relaxed on a park bench. The weather up here above the clouds was sunny but cool.
Arriving at Visitor Center
Historic Upper Visitor Center
Upper Visitor Center View
We took our time eating lunch, drying out our boots, wandering around the visitor center. Still, though, no Ted and Lois. It was past 2pm now, and we started to wonder if we shouldn't just start walking down the park road, and perhaps they would see them as they drove by. We also realized that we could simply attempt to hitch a ride down from one of the many cars up here - if they didn't mind picking up grungy hikers (in Haleakala NP, hitch-hiking is a specifically permitted activity).
Our Swiss transporters
After waiting few more minutes, we decided that that is what we should probably do, so we shouldered our packs and made our way over to the parking lot exit, and onto the park road. Half-heartedly, we decided to do the thumb stick-out thing and see if anyone would pick is up. I was skeptical about how successful we would be.
Nearly immediately, I was proven wrong. A dark gray rental Subaru pulled over before we had even lost sight of the parking lot, and a young couple with a foreign accent offered us a ride. Sweet!
The young couple were visitors from Switzerland, she a German-Swiss and he an Italian-Swiss. Although they both spoke english well enough, I managed a bit of rusty Italian conversation. They were on a marathon multi-week tour of the U.S. We talked quite a bit about their travels as they drove us down the winding park road.
Ted and Lois on Horseback
Although it was too bad that we had not met up one last time with Ted and Lois, it had been smart to get this early ride down the mountain. We now had a nice relaxing block of time with which to set up camp and re-organize our stuff.
[update]: I got an e-mail from Lois a couple of days later, saying hi and indicating that they had our enjoyed our dinner visit the night before. And, she included this very nice picture of them on horseback on the way out of the crater. According to the camera's timestamp, they were still on the Sliding Sands trail at 5:30pm, meaning that had started much later in the day than us. Therefore, it had been the right choice to get the ride down that we did.
To Hosmer Grove
With a profusion of thank-yous, Sabine (her name) and Tiziano (I think his name, but not sure if I remembered correctly) drove off, leaving us at the lower visitor center parking lot. From here it was a simple matter of walking less than a mile - partially along road and partially along trail - to the Hosmer Grove campground.
Down the supply trail
The Hosmer Grove campground is a small facility right on the boundary of the park. There is one small open field that contains the tentsites. The campground is first-come, first-serve, and there was at the time of our visit no fee charge. The facilities were clean and good, too.
Nearing Hosmer Grove
Rising directly adjacent to the campground is Hosmer Grove itself - a conspicuously out-of-place looking stand of non-native trees. A 20th-century forester planted these trees in the hopes of creating a viable timber industry.
We set about immediately making camp, wanting to dry out all of our wet gear from last night's rain at Paliku.
As our thoughts turned to dinner, so did thoughts of our feeble Sterno stove. Fortunately, we had struck up a bit of a friendship with an adjacent tenter named Udo. He was on a quick vacation-trip as an adjunct to a business trip to San Francisco from Germany. Even more fortunately for us, Udo had a functioning MSR international multi-fuel stove, and he offered to boil a pot of water for us. In exchange, I gave Udo some advice on some of the fantastic trails to be had on Kaua'i - an upcoming destination for him.
With our tents dry and our bellies full, we again hit the hay fairly early. Tomorrow we had an early rendez-vous with three mountain bikes!
Interactive Trackmap - Summit to Hosmer Grove