Capturing Maui’s Natural Wonders ~ By FITZ Maurice, Special to the Independent
What could be more exciting than flying to the Hawaiian Islands? To top off their tropical beauty, there are two national parks there, Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui and Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. My Quest 2017 begins with capturing in a painting, the crater and wonders of Haleakala on Maui. After flying over the ridge of Maui and seeing this dormant volcano, my anticipation of this mysterious park was mounting. Driving up Haleakala is awesome with the winding road opening to vast island and ocean views at each turn. Then two thirds of the way up, I’m driving through a layer of clouds that makes all land disappear. Finally rising above that cloud layer I can see again, which is comforting on an ever upward twisting and turning road. Often at the top all becomes clear and you can see forever!
There are unforgettable trails that wind deep down into the belly of the volcanic crater and trails that will lead to the observatories and Haleakala Visitor Center. Standing before this landscape of sliding sand and rolling fog creates a feeling that is a combination of fascination and eerie at the same time. The plant life is unreal as if from another world. There also is the tribal past of this sleeping volcano. I kept feeling as if I was hearing the muffled sounds of ancient drums permeating up from far below. I felt the temperature and entire mood of the day change several times within a short time.
When you start hiking it might be hot and sunny. Then mysteriously the fog rolls in, engulfing all signs of life and casting a grey and chilly overcast that swallows you up as well. At those times, the views are gone and visibility shrinks in front of you to two steps. Then miraculously, the fog disperses and all is brilliantly revealed in all of its glory. These dramatic changes can take place within minutes or over hours, keeping hikers on their toes and hopefully conscious of the need to update their destination to suit the weather and their comfort level.
Haleakala means “house of the sun” and this island was named after Maui, the demigod who went up the top of Haleakala to capture the sun and pull it back to the island. This image of him is on the Haleakala National Park sign and this native story is rooted in the history of the island of Maui.
What is the top of Haleakala? It’s considered the tallest mountain in the world with over 19,000 feet of hidden volcano under the ocean and 10,000 feet visible above sea level. When standing up there, you do feel like you are on top of the world and feel a little bit like a demigod yourself, with all the world and all the ocean spread out in all directions. You get the tempting feeling to spread your arms wide and simply fly away over the rainbow!
Haleakala represents entry into my 29th national park and the sixth year of my quest, all accomplished on my own. My quest is to paint each national park in the United States, capturing the essence of each park and presenting them in all of their iconic majesty. My goal is to help promote and protect our parks and our birthright as Americans.
The first exhibition of the National Park Paintings is already scheduled for June and July, 2018 at the Hockaday Museum of Art, Kalispell, Mont. This is the perfect launch for this series as the museum is affiliated with Glacier National Park in Montana. The June 28, 2018, opening reception is scheduled at the ideal time for visitors to Glacier National Park next summer!
See all the paintings from FITZ Maurice’s quest at nationalparkpaintings.com. Work by the lifetime artist and 30-year south-county resident has been exhibited internationally.