Summit to Sea Level

Thanks to my severe case of motion sickness, which always ends with vomiting,  I have found myself in some awkward situations. I’ve thrown up in countless movie theaters, trains, boats, even on one of the royal guards in England (who, due to the nature of the job, wasn’t able to move until his shift was over). So when deep sea fishing was put on the schedule in Maui, Britt and I opted out, saving me the hassle of getting sick. Instead, we chose to head inland toward Haleakala Volcano.

We were picked up at our resort at the un-godly hour of 2am, and then driven to the Maui Mountain Cruiser’s headquarters where we hitched a trailer to the back of the van. Then, we headed up the to the summit of Haleakala, which sits at around 10,000 feet above sea level. When we booked our trip we were warned to wear warm clothes because it’s so cold at the summit, and before we were let out of the van we were each given a fleece jacket, and a complete rain suit. We opened the van doors and were slapped in the face with violent 35 degree winds. We bundled up as tightly as we could, and staked out a spot along the crater’s edge to watch the sunrise.

There were about 1,000 people gathered along the crater’s edge for the sunrise, and some poor suckers came sporting flip flops and light jackets. Maui Mountain Cruisers took care of us and made sure we were protected against the elements.

Unfortunately, an enormous cloud came and settled in the crater right before sunrise, completely blocking our view of the sun and drenching us in the process. Regardless, it was a good time.

We made our way back to the van, and were fitted with a cruiser bike and helmet. Once everyone was ready (there were 12 in our group) we hit the open road! Literally. We got in a single file line, according to weight, and rode back down the winding Haleakala Highway. This road has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the greatest elevation gain in the shortest distance. You go from 10,000 feet at the summit, to sea level in under 40 paved miles. The road is fairly new, and it is full of hair-pin turns and switchbacks. It was a blast!

Every once in a while we would stop to shed some layers as we got close to sea level, and take a few pictures. The landscape was surreal, and this is definitely the way to see Maui. Because the road was so steep and our bikes were so heavy (50lbs each) we only had to pedal for about 400 yards. All-in-all it took us about 3 hours to ride down 10,000 feet, including a short break for breakfast. Our fastest clocked speed was 47 miles per hour, and from the moment we set off Britt and I had the biggest smiles on our faces. It was something that we’ll never forget, and highly recommend to anyone visiting Maui!

4 thoughts on “Summit to Sea Level

  1. I have not read the whole post yet because your introduction really caught my attention and before I could move on, I have to ask….. how did you throw up ON the guard? How does that happen?? Haha… you really do have the best stories!!! 🙂

    1. I was around 9 years old and we were in England. We had just gotten off of a long train ride, and not surprisingly I felt sick. We hurriedly went to the bathroom only to find it guarded by an attendant and a turn style. It cost money to use the restroom and we couldn’t figure out the coins fast enough, so I went running. As I came around a corner I projectile vomited and it just so happens that a royal guard’s post was on that corner. His boots were covered in barf, but being the professional that he was, he didn’t even flinch. I apologized and left him standing in my vomit. Good times!

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