I've never seen the inside (or edge, for that matter) of a volcano so I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at the top of Haleakala. By the time we did arrive, I don't think it would have mattered what it looked like because the experience and views on the drive up had been nothing less than spectacular.
Having used a guided audio tour, we learned a tremendous amount about how the islands formed and the difference between a crater and a caldera. I'm laughing now because I can't think of how to describe it so I'm thinking that I must not have learned it very well, did I ? :) At any rate....the inside that you see in the following pictures is of the caldera...not a crater.
Here's what we found when we stood on the lookout edge at the visitor's center:
According to the tour and published information, the width spans about 7-8 miles.
See the shadow of black/darker just on the edge of the rock at the top? That's volcanic ash and each time the wind comes across the top of the caldera, it picks up a bit of that ash and disperses it wherever it damn well pleases. A good bit of it gets trapped within the moisture of the clouds and forms the 'vog' that I (think) I mentioned in an earlier post. Volcanic ash mixed with fog or smog forms 'vog' and it's darker and nastier/dirtier than regular cloud moisture. On this particular day with the direction of the wind - it was clear and there was no vog.
It's been dormant for quite some time and people actually hike down into the middle and explore caves, camp for a night/few days. I'm happy as can be for them to do that - I'll take the heavenly bed at the Hyatt over a sleeping bag or cabin in the middle of the caldera, thank you.
There is a tour bus that comes up to the top at 5 AM so that people can watch the sunrise come over the edge of the caldera. I recommend this for your very first morning here - since your body will still be on mainland time and you really think it's already 11 in the morning. Someone drives you up in the dark, you experience the view of sunrise and the light coming over the caldera, you get to walk around for an hour or so and then you are chauffeured back down in the morning light. This way, you do get to see all the sights but someone is driving the tricky road for you.
I'm aiming to not share more than 3 or 4 images in each post so it will probably take about 3 or 4 more days to share all the images and experiences of this particular afternoon.
Tomorrow - measuring the moon's distance from earth within 3 inches.