Yup, you guessed it--another page for my Maui vacation book. Doesn't look very beachy or tropical, does it? And yet, where we are in this photo is the reason there is a Maui. Maui, like the rest of Hawaii, was formed by volcanic action. In fact, Maui is really the merging of the lava flows of two volcanoes, the larger of the two is called Haleakala, or "House of the Sun." The Haleakala crater has an elliptical shape: 7 miles across and 2 miles wide, with the top of the crater 9700 feet above sea level. (As big as it is, only ~7% of this volcano is visible above sea level!!) Driving to the very top of the crater is really easy, and once you're there looking out and down is soooo a w e s o m e. The cool thing? There is a trail called Sliding Sands Trail that starts at the top and descends the 5900 feet to the center of the crater. Although this trail can be hiked, for me there's no better way to get from here to there and back again than on the back of a horse, so we took a riding tour and spent the better part of the day exploring this incredible natural wonder. In theory, this particular ride is rated for novices but I'm really glad that we both have horse riding experience, as the trail turned out to be occasionally quite narrow--barely wide enough for our horses--and in other places it was carved into the side of the crater, going out to the edge of the precipice. No guard rails, of course. Oh, and there's a reason it's called Sliding Sands and don't even get me started on how steep it is in some places. Smile I took many, many photos, hoping that some would be okay, 'cause boy oh boy getting photos from the back of a moving horse was tough!

The landscape in the interior of the crater is absolutely otherworldly--stark and rocky, eerie and unearthly, so much so that the presence of even a bit of plant life or an insect was exciting for me. It was sooo quiet! Most of the time, the only noise was the clop-clop-clop of our horses' hooves. On our climb back to the top, the mists rolled in and shrouded the entire crater in cold cotton candy clouds, to the point where seeing the horse in front of you was hard. That just added another level of excitement to the adventure!

I tell my sisters these stories and they tease me: How is is possible that I can willingly climb onto the back of a 2000-pound animal and plunge into the heart of a volcanic crater traveling on a slippery, narrow rocky trail with the fear-inducing name of Sliding Sands Trail, through clouds that completely obscure one's vision, but I kicked up such a fuss about parasailing? Smile

We had fun with our fellow travelers debating the best place to be in line on a trail whose name is Sliding Sands. On the one had, if you're near the back of the line (as we were), you spend the entire day eating everyone else's dust. On the other hand, if your horse lost his footing and you slipped down the trail, you had everyone else in front of you to slow your descent! Fortunately, we didn't test this... Smile

Anna Aspnes
Clouds No. 01 BrushSet
FotoBlendz Clipping Masks No. 03

Pattie Knox
Absolutely Acrylic Alphabet No. 01

Gretchen Thomas
Curbside Paper Pack

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