Friends of Haleakala Christmas Tree Cutting

High up on the mountain, the Haleakala Ranch land borders  the National Park where an experimental pine forest was planted many years ago. Right outside the  park entrance the hillside is full of  beautiful, but invasive trees. Pine forests of Monterrey Pine and Mexican Weeping Pine threaten the nearby native forest.

Every year  the annual Christmas Tree cutting  at Pu'u Nianiau takes place to help stop the spread of invasive species into the park while also offering a wonderful outdoor experience. Yearly, the wonderful folks of Friends of Haleakala organize a Christmas Tree cutting event that is challenging and  rewarding.

The Boy Scouts  helped out by cutting small and medium sized pines,  leaving them along the trail for folks to gather.  I did not know about the trail gifts until making my way back down the mountain with an arms full of pine boughs loaded with cones for the start of my holiday wreaths. Luckily I brought gloves and my handy little folding saw, both necessary for the task at hand. I did manage to cut a tree, but, I knew it  would not fit for my inside decorated tree. It's a bit of an awkward shape. but will look and smell wonderful  on the lanai. For the first time ever, I have no pangs of guilt for a cut holiday tree. In fact, I experienced a  small sense of accomplishment.

 The work of the wonderful folks from the Friends of Haleakala  is an important addition to securing the future of our sacred mountain.  The Friends of Haleakala are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to assisting Haleakala National Park to achieve the purposes and goals for which it was established. " To preserve Haleakala's  unique eco - systems, scenic character and associated native Hawaiian cultural and spiritual resources so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Well, yes, indeed.

I met Mat, a Friends Leader, at the start of the trail when I signed my release forms to go up the mountain. I've been interested in this group and now I have their newsletter and a schedule of their service trips into the crater. Volunteers backpack into the crater to a cabin or campsite to work on maintenance of the cabins , work with native plants or invasive species. If you think you are up to a service trip, check out their web site and see if you can find a good match.  It's challenging work, and ,it will be an experience that you will long remember

My giant Norfolk Pine at Hale Ho'okipa is a living proof how well some introduced species do  in Hawaii. Measuring 18 feet around the base {!) seriously, and approx 160' high it is one of the oldest and largest pine trees on the island of Maui. It's impressive and gives me pause to appreciate it's magnificent presence daily.

The holidays are kicking into gear, and mine have been off to a great start!

With Aloha and Gratitude,