Sliding Sands Trail
to Ka Lua O Ka O'o Crater

(November 1998)

The total distance (roundtrip) on the Sliding Sands Trail to the Ka Lua O Ka O'o crater is approximately 6 miles. The Trail is in good condition, sandy, but good to walk. The descent is about 1100 feet, which you have to climb on the way back. Including the breaks and the loop on the crater rim, it took us 3 hours and 40 minutes.

At about 8.00 a.m. we left the hotel and went on our way to the summit of Haleakala. At about 11 a.m. we finally stood at the Trailhead, packed with cameras, enough film rolls, two liters of water (could have been more) and four selfmade cheese - ham - cucumbers sandwiches. It was refreshingly cool up here, but not cold, and so we hiked in short trousers, T-shirt and a pullover. We left windbreakers and long trousers at home, so we weren't prepared very well for bad weather. But the tour was not very long, and according to weather forecast the weather would stay fine.

Regarding the name "Sliding Sands Trail", I had suspected that it would be very slippery, perhaps steep and hard to go. But on the contrary, the descent was moderate in wide switchbacks. The temperature was not too cold and not too warm, the light wind was refreshing, it could hardly be better.

"That is much easier than I expected", I said to Carola. "I hope it will not be much worse than expected on the way back", said Carola.

It was really easy to walk down, and we did not notice very much of the thin air. The panorama was great. To estimate the distances was nearly impossible. There were new sights every few minutes, and only the watch showed that an hour had passed by.

From time to time, we passed groups of silverswords, a plant that exists only in the Haleakala wilderness. They were smaller than I had expected. After decades, they develop a blossom and reach the end of their life cycle.

Finally we had reached the fork to the Ka Lua O Ka O'o. From here, one could overlook another part of the Sliding Sands Trail, which lead further down into the valley. Using our binoculars, we could also recognize the Kapalaoa Cabin.

The trail to the Ka Lua O Ka O'o crater continued without a major height difference and ended on the level of the crater rim. We walked a loop on the rim and looked for a place to rest.

From this point we could overlook the whole valley. We took a rest of about 45 minutes. After that, we were refreshed and had taken photos of practically every place in the valley.

At the left edge of the valley floor we could see the Holua Cabin, which can be easily reached from the Halemau'u Trailhead. Now it was time for the ascent. It was by far more strenous than the descent, due to the altitude.

The ascent is much easier when you are sitting on a horseback - at least for you, probably not for the horse.

After 1 hour and 30 minutes we were back at the trailhead. We were surprised that the ascent had not taken more time than the descent, but we had made only few photostops on the way back. At first, we went to the car to get something to drink. It was 3 p.m., so there was no need to hurry - thanks to Maui, who had forced the sun to go slowly, it would take 3 more hours to sunset.