Hawaii in a Campervan | Part 4: Summit Sunrise at Haleakalā National Park

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We woke up some time around 4 in the morning and pressed our internal snooze buttons about a million times. Honestly we sort of didn’t mind. We weren’t getting much sleep anyway. Having our campervan made things that much easier — there was nothing to pack up , all we had to do was get up (and since we were already wearing every article of clothing we brought) and go.

Our car was one of few climbing up the dark curving mountain road at that hour. Another benefit to camping at Hosmer Grove is that we were only 10 miles or so from the summit — or about a 25 minute drive. Compared to the normal 2hr or so ride from the park entrance points we had it pretty good. As we neared the parking lot we were surprised to find that it was almost already filled with people and of course, plenty of tour buses (carrying some of the most annoying tourist groups and tour guides we have ever encountered in all our travels but I’ll refrain from ranting…for now…). Not long after finding parking we noticed the park rangers turning away carloads of tourists.

The best place for viewing the sunrise was a little mountain just below the actual summit. We found our spot and huddled together to stay warm and faced the crater in anticipation. Slowly the sky lit up in purples and blues and then yellows and golds and oranges. Just as the sun peeked up over the clouds we heard some ladies singing a beautiful native Hawaiian song to welcome the sunrise. Bathed in warm sunlight while the clouds rolled in around us, we were truly on top of the world.

What is it about sunrises and sunsets that makes them so irresistibly beautiful; that draws crowds of people to one place, shivering in blankets and coats at the top of a dormant volcano? Is it the promise of a new day; a new beginning; a chance to start again that we find most attractive, or is it the warm buttery light and the piercing intense reach of the sun’s rays? Or maybe it’s knowing that you are witness to something that has happened as long as the sun and the moon and the earth have circled one another; something that has happened a million times before you were even on this earth and will happen a million times in the future, long after you are gone. And yet, in that precise golden moment there is the realization that you are witnessing something that will never ever happen again.

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