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Published: Tuesday 13 August, 2013

online shopping australia online shopping australia ?Lost on Maui

But even paradise can chafe. Personally, as much as I love Hawaii after my six visits I have family there, I do find a certain sameness to the usual tourist haunts. Cmon now, Hanauma Bay is a lot like Hanalei Bay is a lot like Maalaea Bay, at least to someone who still says HuhWHYee instead of HuhVYee. But like Eskimos who reportedly know 200 words for snow a linguistic urban myth, by the way, people who live there love to parse the faint differences between one palmlined cove of pearly white sand and the next palmlined cove of pearly white sand. Oh, Pokopoopipai is gorrrrrrgeous! theyll say. Well, yeah. But isnt that like admiring a particularly efficient Burger King? In Hawaii, faultless beauty is just the local franchise.

So whats a tourist to do when he begins to crave something more invigorating than another 50 ccs of tropical Valium? You can always drink yourself silly at the luau and climb on stage with the hula girls. Thats been done, for sure. Or you can sign up for surfing, scuba diving, hang gliding or any of the sweaty GenX pursuits that fill the brochure racks at the hotel concierge desk. But even those are sort of de rigueur Hawaii, if you ask me.

Or you can walk into Hal online shopping australia eakala Crater for a night or two. Its more Mojave than Maui, and you wont ever mistake this beautifully barren valley with plant life fit for Jupiter, camelready sand dunes and some stillheaving geology for just another patch of island splendor. Paradise it isnt; fascinating, it is.

Crater for a Night Haleakala is, simultaneously, a national park, an international biosphere reserve and a designated wilderness area. Thats a whole lotta protection for a whole lotta hole. In essence, Haleakala is a 30,000acre gash in the highlands of eastern Maui, tapering down from the 10,000foot rim at Puu Ulaula Summit to the rocky surfline at Kipahulu. At the higher reaches, its all weirdness and arid desolation, a place where rocket scientists come to test drive their robot vehicles in a correctly cruel setting. But as you descend toward the ocean, topicality resumes its throne in the form of lusher greenery and plunging waterfalls. The two areas arent connected by road, but hikers can walk from one to another, progressing through a cavalcade of climate zones.

You cant see more than part of the crater from any one point above, but the view from the summit side is of a vast and otherworldly plain that rolls on without end. Its like some grainy feed from a Mars rover, a crimson panorama of cinder cones and windswept peaks. Huge pastures of curdled lava are locked in frozen flow around yellow cliffs. It seems a poisoned terrain, whole acres without a tuft of green; the plants that do cling to the unforgiving soil are bizarro succulents and mutant ferns. The only thing this set lacks in scifi cred is Leonard Nimoy pondering his tricorder and some expendable Starfleet security extra standing by to meet his gruesome alien demise.

Ive been all over Hawaii, and Ive never seen anything like this, said Gary Johnson, a pilot who regularly ferries a wealthy California client down to his Hawaiian beach house. A devoted backpacker, Johnson had long been keen to explore what hed been told was Hawaiis most remote backcountry. I met him on the crater floor, with the late morning sun still chasing the long shadow of the surrounding hills out of the basin. He had camped the night before in a rough and broken field of black lava. Now, he had shouldered his pack for a long 14mile walk down to the sea and the comforts of a more normal Hawaii. Its more like the Gobi up here, or a moonscape, he said. You can see why NASA used this place as a test area.

Haleakala is already a wellknown stop on the Maui tourist track. The zigzag highway up to the rim is filled every morning with serpent lines of bicyclists, careening out of the clouds that often blanket the higher reaches. They pay to be shuttled to the top, mount up and ride their brakes all the way down, 38 miles of wheeeeeee. Over on the eastern edge of the park, overlooking the infinite Pacific, the cliffhugging, nailbiting Hana Highway attracts every tourist with a rental convertible and a dose of Dramamine. And the rimside visitors centers are often crowded with folks snapping pathetically underpowered photos of the endless crater floor or, looking the other way on clear days, of Lanai and Molokai far out on the western horizon.

But those are the easy ways to do Haleakala, looking down from on high or riding and driving around its outer slopes. Heres what the locals know: Going into the hole is better. Starting at one of the three visitors centers that ring the rim, a network of marked trails leads to three simple huts, each in a different crater terrain: Holua Cabin is tucked into the scrubland at the base of the western rim; Kapalaoa Cabin is in the middle of the basin, surrounded by cinder fields; Paliku is toward the eastern end, below a rainforested ridge. Each of th online shopping australia em sleeps a dozen overnighters in ranks of builtin bunks and each costs $75 a night for an entire group. Unless you luck out and get a lastminute cancellation, they take some effort and advance planning to book via a monthly mailonly lottery. See box on Page P5 for details.

The Descent My own descent into this unusually fearsome corner of our most mildmannered state began on the rim, at the head of Sliding Sands Trail. Two of my collegeage Honolulubased nieces, their boyfriends and I set off on the eightmile hike down to Holua Cabin. The rest of our group, the aunts and uncles and little kids, were hiking a shorter route down.

At 10,000 feet, there was a very unHawaiian chill in the air, online shopping australia and walking uphill was more breathless than it should have been. Fortunately, the trail dropped quickly, stringing around a rank of tall red cinder cones, each silhouetted against an azure Pacific sky, some with their tops blown empty by some prehistoric upheaval or another. Mile by mile, we walked down into the worlds largest dormant volcano.

In the distance, I could see a party of horsemen crossing the crater floor at a walk, like a Saharan trading party, pulling a low contrail of hoof dust across the plain. Well above them, we spread out and the only noise above our boot steps was the slow hiss of silence rebounding off the cliffs, the eternal exhale of geology. online shopping australia