Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Maui Coast beyond Hana

One of the things I hoped for when camping along the Hana coast was to see the Milky way and be able to photograph the night sky with the ocean.  I was eager to see what the Sony A7S could do there.

In the time after sunset there was a little clear sky but the moon was far too full to see the grandeur of the Milky Way.  I would end up trying to get some sleep and then get out about 4am and see the dark. 

However the Hana side of Maui is the wet side and it lived upto that reputation as it rained off and on both nights I camped there.  The rain would pass by and it was a heavy downpour for 15-20 minutes and then it would stop.  Then 30 minutes later it would rain again as another rain band passed over.  I was camping in the small North Face Stormbreak 1 tent and although I was not sure how well I would fit or it would handle rain, I was really impressed and dry camping here.  The tent was narrow but had as much length as any other tent.  I fit and even though my sleeping bag touched the end of the tent the excellent rainfly on the tent kept it 100% dry!  Tent was also super stable in the wind.  I actually find that a trait in ever North Face tent I have ever used.  Super happy with this tent.  Perfect for solo travel.

So after the on again-off again rain, I got up and out to almost complete overcast in the dark.

I made my way to the coast and even occasionally got a brief glimpse of the stars.  I might get one image and the sky would cloud over again.  Then a rain squall would pass over and I would cover the gear and wait it out in the dark.

This happened several times before dawn.  In one of the heavy ones I did retreat to the shelter of a nearby tree (no lightening at all or I would not have been out there).

Finally the night began to fade and I was able to watch two sunrises along the coast.

It was impressive!

The moving clouds made for some interesting light and the constant crash of the surf made it fun. Occasionally a big wave would cash and send spray up the rocky shore cliffs.  I kept my rain cover on the camera and used a cloth to keep the lens dry.

Each morning was fun like that and I would stay out there for a couple of hours each day.

Sunsets were also interesting as the light faded over the mountain behind you and the light left the sky.  Exposures would get longer and longer until it was more night than day photography.

Two sunsets and two sunrises were a great way to experience and photograph the island.  I was able to be right where I wanted to photograph, it was quiet, and I had it pretty much all to myself.  Yep, camping along the coast was a great way to see Maui and have serious low cost fun.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Road to Hana

The drive down from the summit of Haleakala takes you from 10,000' back to sea level.  From the chilly dawn on the summit, I descended to the warm, humid coast.  There I met the Road to Hana.  It is about 40 miles to Hana but it is a drive that takes at least two hours.  You see the road is a narrow two lane road that winds along the coast.  You travel about 25 mph around many curves (they say it is 620 curves) as the road hugs the cliffs.  Then there are all the one lane bridges.  Yes, one lane bridges.  59 of them.  So it is a long slow and scenic drive.

It takes even longer once you start stopping.

Believe me, you will want to stop.  

There are scenic views everywhere.  A stream here.  A cliff there.  Every turn and mile has something to see.

Realistically it will take you 4-7 hours to get there.

For most people its get there then turn around and drive back to their resort.  I had plans on camping.  Just beyond Hana itself you reenter Haleakala National Park and in addition to the Seven Scared Pools there is a campground.  Here I set up camp along the coast and was able to enjoy the quiet side of Maui.

Road to Koki Beach Beyond Hana
The drive took me several hours, but as I knew I was camping, I could take my time and enjoy it.  I made every stop possible looking for walks or images.

Take  a look at the top image here, it is a view along the coast.  If you look close you can see the road cut in the trees where a narrow two lane road is hugging the cliffs.  Yes, that is the drive.
Seven Sacred Pools

Once past Hana the road becomes even narrower, really just a lane and half wide with no stripe.  When two cars go past each other you have to slow to a crawl and go very slow, each of you a time almost off the road.  In some places off the road mean hanging on a cliff.

More than once I had to back up to let someone through.

All in all a beautiful drive and the payoff of getting to camp there made it so nice.  A sure thumbs up on the drive and camping along the coast for a very different Hawaii experience.
Coast beyond Hana

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Night on Haleakala

I had the opportunity to goto Maui in September and got to tack in a weekend leading into it.  I knew a couple areas I wanted to photograph in the summit of the volcano Haleakala and the Hana coast.  Me being me, I decided to pack my tent and sleeping bag so I could stay closer to the areas I wanted to photograph.  

Since Haleakala is at 10,000' above sea level, it is cold on top at night and sunrise, so I also packed a down jacket, hat and gloves.  Three things not usually in the luggage of those going to Hawaii.

For camera gear I wanted to travel light but also be able to photograph the Milky Way as well as landscape work.  I decided to bring one body- the Sony A7S.  It is a phenomenal night camera with super clean ISO 25,600 reults, which is perfect for night images of the Milky Way.  It is also decent in the daytime, 12mp is a little low for landscape however the images look great from it so I knew I would not get the biggest file size, but what I would get would be top notch.

After landing at the Airport at Kahaului, I grabbed a few food items, some water, and headed up the mountain.  I drove from literally sea level for an hour zig-zagging up the mountain to the Hosmer Campground which is right at treeline about 7,000'.  I was worried it might be full, after all it is a national park, but there were only three other tents set up there.  I found me a spot, set up the tent and drove for another 30 minutes to the summit.

On top I visited all the overlooks and looked over some possible compositions.  I had hopes the Milky Way would also be visible but was concerned it would be too far west in the sky to catch it over the crater.  It was cool and windy on the summit.

I stayed for sunset and then made my way back down to camp to get a little sleep.  I had been up for about 22 hours by that point with the long travel day and was asleep pretty fast.  

The moon was about half full and very bright, but would set about midnight.  I slept to 11:45pm and got up to head up the mountain, there I had the entire summit area to myself and photographed the stars, Milky Way and the Observatory on the summit.  It was very chilly up there.  My car thermometer said 38.  I was glad I brought a down jacket to Hawaii!

I stayed up the rest of the night photographing.  As I had feared the Milky Way and the galactic core was too far west in the sky but I was able to put it in a few images with the observatory.

A little closer to dawn the spiral arm of the Milky Way, which is the less bright arm of the galaxy that Orion is in, rose in the east.  That I was able to photograph above the crater and I was able to get a few nice night images.

After 4 pm the first of the sunrise watchers began to arrive on top.  Haleakala rises above the clouds and it is a popular sunrise destination for those visiting Maui.

By sunrise there were probably 500+ people and the parking lot was full.

I stayed until the sun crested the rim and grabbed a last few images and then made my way back to my tent about 7:30am.

Night on the summit was everything I had hoped.  I packed up my tent, put away the down jacket and headed for the Hana coast.