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Everything seemed very natural and untouched now - although not being experts on the local flora, it was hard for us to know what was indigenous and what wasn't. The huge koa trees overhead were indeed indigenous and contributed much to the beauty of the forest.

The Kaupo trail is so little used and the lush grasses so abundant that it was at times hard to follow the faint track through the grass. Fortunately, an occasional NPS marker pole helped define the way.
Through a koa forest
3.9 miles to Paliku
Brian's Natural Mattress
At our next boots-off break - at the 4,000-foot mark - we encountered a sign indicating a further 3.9 miles to our destination at Paliku. We had a very relaxing stop here, with Brian going so far as to use the 3-foot high grass as a big natural mattress. Taking note again of the sky, we saw a buildup of cumulus clouds, but the sun still shone more than not, and we had not experienced any rain. There had been talk from Steve about some bad weather forecast for today, but fortunately did not seem to be materializing.
'Akia Shrub and Meadow
Grassy Track
Pleasantly winding upwards
Well-rested after our 4,000-foot break, we contined up the Kaupo Trail. The terrain alternated between grassy spots underneath arching trees and short stretches of open meadow. The tread underfoot gradually became less loamy and more dry and rocky as we ascended. The density of the forest, too, started to decrease. As we approached 5,000-feet, we could definitely see how the forest was starting to transition to open alpine scrubland.
courtesy JInnes
Small ridgetop
Hawaiian Hopbush
More shady forest
Lava cut-out
Walls of Kaupo Gap
Downslope view, Kaupo Gap
The trend to scrubbier terrain, a rocky path (and cooler temperatures, for that matter) continued as we ascended towards 6,000 feet. The face of the eastern wall of Kaupo Gap, under which we had been hiking for several hours now, was getting higher and rockier. Deep, mysterious-looking side-canyons were now cut into its slope, the upper reaches of which were hidden in cloud.
Koa Forest
Curled-up sadleria fern
Beautiful Cloudforest
The Kaupo Trail itself took on a slightly more constructed character at this point. Instead of just meandering over the land surface, as it had done a bit lower down, up here the trail was more purposefully engineered, carefully graded and switchbacked, cutting through rock ridges, and built up when crossing over little ravines. Some sections felt like they would be railroad-grade, if only for a miniature railway.
courtesy JInnes
Excellent engineering
Clouds in the gap
The sun faded away and the clouds grew thicker and gloomier as we hiked up the last few slopes to the 6,300-foot level and the lower floor of Haleakala's Crater. It had not yet raiined, but it started to look that it might. We hoped to get to our campsite and set up before that happened - if it happened.
Cliffside Koa
Meadow beneath Kuiki
Mist-shrouded Kuiki
A few minutes later we arrived at the junction with the Halemau'u trail - one of the main trails in the park that leads down from the main park road. That meant that we were only a few flat-walking minutes away from the Paliku campsite.
Junction near Paliku
Paliku Cabin
Paliku Camping Area
Soon we could see the little beige square that was the Paliku cabin, nestled underneath the thousand-foot high cliffs of the crater rim. A few of the cabins residents for the night were sitting outside on a picnic table. Below the cabin stretched a large open meadow, and we could see several geese walking about. We knew these were the infamous nene, or Hawaiian goose (I had read about them on the plane ride to Maui and we had been warned about them when receiving our backcountry permit). They are very endangered and this spot in Haleakala National Park was one of their ancestral breeding grounds.

The geese were interesting, to be sure, but first we wanted to select a campsite and get our tents set up - the dark clouds above were still roiling about disconcertingly.

If you are interested in reading more about our hike up the Kaupo Trail, along with lot of extra pictures not in this main narrative, please click here.
Paliku Sunset
We selected a suitable spot, well away from other campers (actually, there were very few other campers at Paliku - just two or three other tents), and set up our tents securely and tautly so as to maximize rain shedding if it did rain. Soon after we set up the tents, as sunset approached, the clouds darkened and lowered, and it did in fact start to drizzle.

Brian went over to a water tap adjacent to the cabin to fill up our pot while I got to business starting our Sterno stove. I wasn't expecting much out of it as I struggled once again to light the purple goo - now looking a bit charred from last night's usage.

The little sterno stove, as we expected, couldn't get the water to boiling - or near boiling. So, we settled for warm (rather than hot) dehydrated meals. Letting them sit a little longer to allow the food to fully hydrate and soften seemed to work well enough.

As we ate, the drizzle turned into a light steady rain. Not much fun standing out in the dark and in the train - and it was somewhat chilly up here - so even though it was only 7:30pm, we hit the hay. Hopefully this would all blow over during the night.
Interactive Trackmap with photo points - Haleakala Climb Day 1 - double-click to expand
Haleakala Sea-to-summit day 1 - Hike Data
Start Time: 7:33a.m.
End Time: 6:03p.m.
Duration: 10h29m
Distance: 15.72 km (9.77 mi)
Average Speed: 1.5 km/hr (0.9 mph)
Start Elevation: 0ft (0m) *
Max Elevation: 6386ft (1947m) *
Min Elevation: 0ft (0m) *
End Elevation: 6386ft (1947m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 6435ft (1961m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 106ft (32m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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[ Return to "A Hawaiian Kaleidoscope" Home page | Introduction | Mildly complicated journey | Visit to Pearl Harbour | Downtown Honolulu | Kaua'i - The Garden Isle | Na Pali / Kalalau 1 | Na Pali / Kalalau 2 | Waimea Canyon & Kalepa Ridge | Maui - The Valley Isle | Exploring Kaupo | Haleakala Sea-to-summit 1 | Haleakala Sea-to-summit 2 | Haleakala Sea-to-summit 3 | Haleakala bike descent | Maui beach & snorkel | Flight to Big Island | Hawai'i Volcanoes NP | Mauna Loa Backpack Prep | Mauna Loa Climb | Mauna Loa Descent | Paniolo Greens | Hapuna Beach Park | Pu'ukohola Hieau | Sunset at Hapuna Beach | Ph'uhonua o Honaunau | Farewell to Hawaii | Supplemental: Kalalau Trail | Supplemental: Kalepa Ridge Trail | Supplemental: Kaupo Trail | Supplemental: Paliku to Haleakala Summit | Supplemental: Mauna Loa via Observatory Trail | Supplemental: USS Bowfin and Missouri | Hapuna Beach Sunset | Hawai'i Flora and Fauna | The Blue Pilot | Video Clip Index | GPS Data ]

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