Monday, August 2, 2010

Hawaii Day 5

Big day on the Mountain.

After the Luau of the night before (all we could drink, remember) we got to bed at 11PM and up at 2AM to start the drive up Mt. Haleakala to witness the sunrise (a must do we were told on Maui) and then a mountain bike ride down the backside of the mountain in the dirt, not the front side on the pavement, although that would be cool, as well.

The Sunrise story:
We got there plenty early. A full hour before the magical moment. Man, that sleep would have been nice!
The road up is a typical mountain ride from 3,000 feet to 9,500 feet to the "crater" which is actually a depression caused by erosion, not by an eruption. Real good surface condition of the pavement.
At times it can be pretty cold up the mountain, but today it was around 58. For us Wisconsinites, it wasn't a big deal, but not for some. A lot of whining about how cold it was.

Minutes before the sun starting raising above the clouds.

We were well above the clouds and the sun came up and it was.....interesting. More interesting maybe was the shadow the rising sun cast in the clouds behind the peak on the remaining 500 feet of mountain.

The shadow from the peak.

Lynn and I checked out the couple Visitors Centers after the sun came up and then drove up to the actual summit to get setup to hit the bike trail.

Van with the bikes for the folks that ride down the pavement.
This was at the summit. What I didn't get 100% in the photo: that the largest scope can track objects the size of basketballs more than 20,000 miles away....and that's just what they're telling us.
4th best viewing conditions on earth from what the sign says.
Silversword plant. Only grows here. They bloom once and then they die. Very delicate, even walking on the roots of tiny seedlings can kill the plant. Wish the family we saw there could have avoided walking in the restricted area around the plants.
The bike story:

What Lynn thought of the whole thing.
Had stopped in to see Paul at Crater Cycle a couple days before on our Road to Hana ride along with a couple other bike shops. Paul was the obvious choice. Everything I asked about logistics with Paul was yes, yes, yes, while the other shops were no, no, no.
Paul, it seems, is a biker that decided to own and run a bike shop versus the others where it seems a person decided to get into a business and it happened to be bikes.

I had originally planned on driving up the mountain with Lynn, watch the sunrise, head the 90 minutes back down the mountain to town to grab the bike after the shop opens and head back up the mountain. When I ran this past Paul he offered to take the bike, helmet and whatever else I needed, throw on some SPD's pedals as I had brought my biking sandals and take the bike to his house.
As he lives about 10 minutes from the junction where we'd head up the mountain, we'd stop at his house at 3:45 AM and load up the bike then head up the mountain. What a guy! getting up at 3:30 AM to help a customer get setup.
That was the plan.
Getting the steed ready. I had a bad-ass downhill rig.
Nice size brakes.
Elbow pads and full-face helmet. Good precautions. Decided to chance it and not wear the shin guards Paul provided.

It worked to perfection...even to the point of getting to the trailhead and meeting 2 locals that were heading down as well. Camron (ex-Texan) and Tyler (ex-Coloradoan and Californian).
Cam had rode the trail before while Tyler hadn't.

The start gate.
We started down and it was like riding on sand but with the sand as big as marbles while tossing in a few softballs and basketballs along the way to dodge.

We started at the 10,000 ft. level way above the clouds and headed down. The first 1/2 mile was reported and confirmed by Cam to be the trickiest and I agree. It wasn't that bad, just keep the weight back and don't get too carried away with the speed.

Cam with the observatories in the background and the outdated "Do not enter" sign in the foreground.
This guy was at the entry gate....figured maybe he hitched a ride up here somehow.
Me at the start.

Cam and Tyler both had hard tails.
We stopped a few times in the first couple miles to enjoy the view. They call it "riding on the Moon" as it's all volcanic rocks and rather unearthly as the terrain is barren and desolate.
Well above the clouds facing north to the big Island of Hawaii.
Cam and Tyler coming down.

Still above the clouds.

Getting down to some vegetation.
After Tyler locked up his brakes with Cam on his tail. Slight case of road rash as Cam ditched it to avoid running over Tyler.

We cruised down to the Mamane Trail which is the only single track on the trail...or the trail that was outlined to me as the normal "ride." More on that coming up.

At the bottom of Mamane.
Exploring a cave, maybe a lava tube?
Looking at the Kula area from the rim of the tube. Kula is the town Paul lives in.
Still by the cave. This area had been burned over 3-5 years ago. Not on purpose, either.
New growth.
Little cheese and crackers.
When we got past Mamane we were on a road that Cam wanted to double back on to look at a cabin at PoliPoli Park. It was about a mile ride with a little down hill at the end.
PoliPoli Park
At the cabin, Cam said he wanted to check out the Redwood hiking trail some day. I cruised over to the trailhead and noticed that bikes were legal, so after a short discussion about trying to figure out where the trail came out, we decided to head out.
It turned out to be a really sweet single track down through an old Redwood plantation. Tyler said that 180 years ago Redwoods were planted to replace the native woods that had been harvested. These puppies seem to really like this climate as there were many of the gentile giants growing there. The fires mentioned earlier hadn't reached this area.

We swooped down through the singletrack hooting and hollering at the great find and wondering why this wasn't on the "map" as a recommended trail. Had Paul held out on me?

Getting into the Redwoods.

An old flower garden near a deserted Ranger cabin.

All day the mist/clouds would roll in and out.

Eucalyptus trees.
After about 3 miles, we found out why this trail wasn't recommended. The trial did not connect where we thought it would but started to head up and up and up. The trial was not ride-able due to not only the grade, but the tight switch backs through creek bottoms that were barely walk-able, especially pushing a bike that weighed twice as much as any bike I have at home. At 40 lbs of bike, I found myself planting my feet and pushing the bike up the steep rooty, rocky trail then locking up a brake and pulling myself up to the bike.
Not sure how many total vertical feet we had to climb to get out.

Passion fruit we ate along the way, also found ripe raspberries.

Had started texting Lynn well before this point that it was going to take longer than the 1.5 hrs. planned....6 hrs. after we thought we'd be out, we pulled up to the car, a 7.5 hr. ride. She's a saint, had a gallon of water for us, as we had ran out hours before, and a quart of sweet local strawberries.
Drove to town and dropped off the bike at Paul's and told him the story and he said, "oh no, not the Redwood Trail!" Yes, Paul....the Redwood Trail.

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