Matt, in classic trip-leader fashion, savored the moment when he got all of his volunteer ducks in a row and on the trail. The night before, Lia had looked up from her plate into the circle of candlelit faces and said, “You know what I like? Here I am with a bunch of people who also thought it was a good idea to backpack across a high-elevation desert to pull weeds,” and smiled, and we all understood the implication of “It takes a certain kind of person and that happens to be us.” Gerry, our hero, narrowed his favorite moments down to “sunrise from my bunk that first morning, that brilliant orange, and all of us sitting in the candlelight feeling really good about being together, working together.” Deb said, “I felt really good after we picked all those weeds — we really made a difference. This is what we came for.”
As for me, my personally cherished moment happened the night before we left, as I wandered back from the outhouse in the glittering moonlight, astonished at the unexpected warmth that allowed me to stay outside a while longer than usual to view the indescribable arch of Haleakalā’s night sky. The ‘ua‘u moaned and cooed from their burrows in the silver-spangled cliffs somewhere over my head, and it was just me and the moon and the luminous world . . . and 8,000 less Heterotheca grandiflora.
IF YOU GO
Service trips with Friends of Haleakala National Park are hard work and no frills, but volunteers get the satisfaction of helping the environment. Visit the Friends’ website, fhnp.org/service.html, for a schedule of upcoming service trips, information on the types of work involved, and a complete list of what to wear and bring. (Be prepared for rain, wind and cold — and remember that everything you pack in, you’ll have to pack out.) Then create an account on the website, certify your readiness for a service trip, and call or email the listed leader for reservations.