by: Darley Newman
Riding into the crater of a volcano on Maui has to top my list as one of the most amazing places in the world to explore on horseback. (you can do this ride as part of EquitrekkingTravel.com's Maui Equestrian Vacation Self Drive)
At Haleakala National Park, I was challenged with descending twenty-five hundred feet from the summit to the crater floor on horseback. The horses that undertake this journey from around ten thousand feet to approximately seventy-five hundred feet, have to be fit and adventurous, as do the riders. I could hear the crunch of cinders beneath my horse’s hooves as we conquered switchbacks down the Sliding Sands Trail, passing by the prickly Haleakala Silversword, a rare otherworldly looking plant found only here.
I looked out to the volcano’s abyss of jagged red, brown, purple, and green peaks. In the distance giant, powdery mounds of cinder arose. The cinders are so fine, you’d expect them to blow away, yet they remain. Though Haleakala is an active volcano, it is not currently erupting. Its last eruption is thought to have occurred in 1790, which is not so long ago, geologically speaking. At some point, another is due.
Even though the sun can be intense during this ride, I still had a slight shiver as a wave of puffy clouds began to cross the open bowl towards me. Having visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island earlier in the trip, where a volcano is currently erupting, it was easy for me to imagine the loud rumble and violent lava flows happening here. This dynamic crater is home to many rare insects and its own particular ecosystem, which makes keeping to the trails important. This made filming here a challenge, but one that our small but mighty crew embraced. When else would we be able to enjoy such an unusual ride!
Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Equitrekking episodes on DVD and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations and horseback riding tours on Maui at EquitrekkingTravel.com. Follow Equitrekking on Facebook and @Equitrekking and @DarleyNewman on Twitter.