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Morning came early today. Early, as in, 1:30am kinda early. Way too early to be considered among the pre-dawn hours. Much closer to my typical going-to-bed hour. Countless hours too early for breakfast, and a couple hours too early even for my somewhat frequent “midnight snack” time. One of those hours that blurs the line between “late night” and “early morning.”

As you can see, it was quite disorienting.

After spending 15 minutes struggling to squeeze out of an impossible parking situation, I (very) apologetically roused my roommate to borrow her keys to remove her car from its parking spot directly behind mine (thus the impossible parking situation… who ever thought that tandem parking spaces at apartment complexes was a good idea, anyway?!). Finally freed and approaching some semblance of awake-ness, I headed upcountry to my 3am appointment at the Haleakala Bike Company in Haiku. BikeHaleakala-7

An odd check-in time… unless, of course, you’re then heading 30+ miles up a volcano to watch sunrise from the top of the crater at 10,000 ft elevation and then bike back down, as I was. Once arriving at the shop, I grabbed a mis-matched pair of gloves, a rain jacket, and a helmet and piled into a bus with a dozen or so sleepy tourists, most of whom were newlyweds. As we wound up the narrow, steep, curvy road, I sincerely hoped the bike trip back down wouldn’t be the beginning of the end of any relationships.

We arrived at the summit at 4:45 am, and stumbled off the bus into the inky blackness to wait an hour and thirty-five minutes for the sun to wake up. I wandered down what seemed to be some sort of trail, as best I could tell from the light on my dying phone.

The only time in my entire life that I’ve seen so many stars was in the middle of the bush in South Africa, hundreds of miles from anything.

The stars at 10,023 feet elevation (the height of the Haleakala Summit) are indescribable. Also, frigid. It gets cold at 10,000 feet in the middle of the night. I forgot what cold feels like. I don’t like it. But, it was obviously worth it (and dragging myself out of bed after only two hours of sleep) for this.

Mark Twain described a Haleakala sunrise as being “…the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed.” I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Actually, I don’t really think it’s possible to summarize it in words so here’s a little pictorial journey of the sun’s wake-up over the crater instead.

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After the sunrise, we were hauled back down to the entrance to the Haleakala National Park to bike the rest of the way down those twisty, narrow, steep roads to Haiku. Huge rush. It’s amazing how fast 30 miles go by when you’re biking downhill.

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Being a photographer in Hawaii is epic. And getting paid to photograph adventures is beyond epic.

After arriving back in Haiku and dropping off my bike, I headed over to Paia to shoot morning prayers at the Dharma Center.

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After the Dharma Center, I met up with another beautiful gypsy soul for some curry before heading back up the windy roads to the Makawao Forest Reserve to capture some shots for a project on the area. Getting lost in the Wilds of Maui is one of my very favorite things… but I’ll save those photos for another day.

   ** Like these images? You can now bring a piece of Hawaiian Magic (captured with Gypsy flair) into your own home. Most images in my blog posts will be available for order in print or canvas form via my Gypsy Photography Shop on Etsy. Click on an image in a blog post that you like to be taken directly to its shop listing, or browse all of the art pieces on the main Storefront. Perfect for gift giving… just in time for the Holidays!!