Friday, October 17, 2008

Haleakala Silversword

This photo was taken in the crater of Haleakala, the (not officially) dormant volcano which comprises most of the Hawaiian island of Maui. The interior of Haleakala is a really beautiful, stark landscape, full of rocks and colored soil. It looks nothing like the lush, tropical vegetation and scrubby grasslands which cover the rest of the island.

The crater of Haleakala is home to the Haleakala Silversword, the plant you see in the photo. The Silversword only grows on Haleakala, and it's listed as a threatened plant (and is protected by law).

The crater of Haleakala is about 10,000 feet above sea level. I've been at higher elevations without much trouble, but I'd also had a few days to acclimatize to the elevation. The day I shot this photo, we had driven up from sea level, and started hiking into the crater as soon as we arrived at the summit. Going in was no trouble, but coming out, I had horrible altitude sickness. At it's worst, I could only walk about 10 feet at a time before stopping to heave. It was a miserable, several hour hike at snail's pace to get back to the rim of the crater. As soon as we started driving down, I felt instantly better. In retrospect it was worth it, as the scenery in the crater is unlike any I've seen anywhere else. I doubt I'd do it again, however.

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