When we picked up my mom at the airport, we decided to go to the part of the island that none of us had ever been: Iao Valley. Most of this part of the island belongs to the National Park Service and/or is uninhabitable because of the steep mountains that jut out of the land like razors. These stone formations are all that is left of a now-extinct volcano, eroded away over hundreds of thousands of years, and the most striking formation of them all is the Iao Needle, a natural landmark taller than the Eiffel Tower.

OK, the idea here was that I would be putting my finger on the top of the Iao Needle, the same way people do with the Eiffel Tower. But it looks like I missed, and I’m just poking poor Iao in its eye.

The trip itself was rather short; we took the easy walks to various lookout points, and stopped to look at the lovely rainforest flora along the way. But it was a good start to the visit, and we settled on taking a longer trip the following day.

Haleakala was next, the highest peak on Maui, and the remains of another ancient volcano (although this one is merely dormant, not extinct), standing over 10,000 feet above sea level. 

We set off in the late morning, with clear skies ahead and hopes for a good view. Unfortunately, we used up all our visibility karma the previous day visiting Iao Valley (that area is purported to be always rainy, so I was happy that it was simply overcast when we arrived). By the time we got to the peak, the fog was rolling in, blown through by trade winds, and the visibility was pretty much nil. I did try to photograph some of the steeper valleys, using the fog as an indication of depth.

There’s a lot out there…you just can’t see any of it…

I also found a boulder that looked like if I got too close it would turn into a golem and then I would have to fight it.

Honestly, though, if it HAD BEEN a golem, it would have beaten the crap out of me. I had no weapons at all, and the only armor I was wearing was a fleece jacket.

We returned to the vacation rental by the beach, and are now planning what kind of mischief we can get into tomorrow.


Needles and Tops
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