Hawaii Vacation Day 7 – Haleakala Crater

Sunday 11/18

You know how your knuckles feel when you sprain a finger and it gets all swollen? Right at the joint there, you can’t quite bend your finger, and the swollen fleshy bits touch each other more quickly then they normally do? That’s how my butt feels.

Today, we went for our horseback ride with Pony Express down Haleakala Crater. It was fantastic! It was supposed to be a 3.5 – 4 hour ride, but it was almost 5 hours start to finish. We rode down, down, down, to the crater floor, almost 4 miles in distance and down 2,400 feet.

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My horse was Benny, described by the guide, Ra, as a good horse but a bit lazy. I told Ra I had dealt with lazy males before.

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Steve rode Chuck. In the grand scheme of the horse hierarchy, it was clear that Benny did not like Chuck. Perhaps because Chuck wanted to get a move on while Benny preferred to lag behind.

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Benny was, indeed, a bit lazy. He was okay once he got moving, but if he ever had to come to a stop, it was challenging to get him to go again; as I kicked and used the reins and “heeaw”’ed, Benny just turned his head and looked at me like, “oh, please”. It was particularly problematic when we came to a rocky downward slope. All the horses took that bit a little slowly, so the gap that had built up between them and Benny and me (due to Benny’s plodding style), was usually closed and we came to a stop as the horse in front of us started down. Convincing Benny it was time to start up again was difficult. Benny thus proved the scientific theorem that a horse in motion tends to stay in motion while a horse at rest tends to stay at rest.

But I noticed Benny chose his footing very carefully. He didn’t always just follow the horses in front of him; if he thought there was easier way, he took it. He stayed on the less sandy side of the trail, for instance. Over rocky footing he would pause and then make his choice of the best way too go. If there was a shortcut to be found, Benny found it.

On the way back up, Ra told us to be careful on the upcoming rocky incline as the horses had been known to jump over it, rather than step up. Knowing Benny by this time, I was sure he would think the quick jump was easier than the three or four careful steps-up. So, I was ready for him when, indeed, he took that incline in one hop. He was the only horse to do so.

All I can really say about Chuck, not having ridden him, is that he was one of the gassiest horses ever. I was behind him on the return journey and with just about every step there came a fart noise. It was like being in a wind tunnel. Fortunately, I had dealt with gaseous males before, too.

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We had absolutely perfect weather for the trip. It was cool at that elevation, but the sun was shining brightly and there were few clouds in the sky. As we reached the summit on the return journey, it started to get mistier and mistier and the wind started to blow. By this time my ass was hurting pretty bad, too. I admit that, for the last 20 minutes or so, I was just wondering when this ride was going to end. Steve and I agreed that it was a wonderful ride and we are so glad we did it, but if it had been cold and misty from the start, it would have been an absolutely wretched day. I don’t think Steve would be speaking to me at the end of it.

However, as the mist started to come in, it was time for the most beautiful rainbow picture ever.

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Tired and chilled after our ride, we headed back to the Kula Lodge and got a light lunch of soup and fruit salad before continuing on to Lahaina. It was after we arrived at the condo and I had to walk again that I noticed my cheeks had swollen to be puffier than usual.