Sunrise Atop a Volcano

Despite what you may be expecting, this story starts with a sunset.

After a full day of Tiger basketball, surfing lessons, and lounging on a secluded beach, Jax and I paused for a sunset. Our toes buried in the warm sand, we prepared to watch nature’s drama unfold. We gazed peacefully on as the sun slipped away, daylight fading into night. The scene was fantastic – the bright fiery sphere sliding across the sky, rays bouncing off the clouds to create brilliant orange and yellow hues. Silhouettes of other islands in the distance dotted the horizon. We watched intently, silently, not wanting to miss a moment of the display.

That next morning at 3am, as if to complete the cycle, we journeyed to the other side of the island to meet the rising sun atop Haleakala Volcano. It is surprisingly cold at the top of the mountain, so we bundled up with jackets, gloves, and beach towels. We wound up the mountain, curving our way through the night. As we climbed the 10,023 feet in elevation, it was almost impossible to see anything but what was directly in front of our headlights. Sheer darkness. Our drive down after day break revealed that the winding road we were following takes you within inches of thousand foot drop offs without so much as a guard rail for protection. So that’s comforting.

We arrived at the top about 40 minutes before the sun was to rise and perched on a rock at the edge of the mountain to wait. It was cold, and we entertained ourselves with the stars. I was closer to the Big Dipper than I have ever been in my life, and that’s a pretty neat place to be.

As 6:03am neared, the sky began to lighten, called predawn. We were sitting on the edge of the volcano’s mouth, and the cloud cover inside transformed with color. It moved from an eerie dark haze to a milky ocean to a pillow of pastels. The sun began peering over the horizon sliver by sliver, and it was brilliant. It was bold and mesmerizing, and you couldn’t help but fix your eyes on it, to both stare and look away at the same time.

I had never really thought about it before, and we hadn’t planned on it happening this way, but witnessing the sun set one evening and rise the very next morning really has a feeling of rarity and completeness to it.

You should try it sometime.


Psalms 113:3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’s name is to be praised.

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