A lost day-hiker who failed to meet a family member at Keonehe'ehe'e Trailhead later in the day Sunday, Jan. 22, triggered a search and rescue operation by Haleakala National Park Rangers and the Maui County Fire Department, which ended the morning of Monday, Jan. 23, after the hiker was located outside of the park.
The day-hiker arranged to be dropped off by a family member at the Halemau'u Trailhead (elev. 7,990 ft) mid-day on Sunday. The individual apparently planned to descend down Halemau'u Trail into the crater and ascend out through Keonehe'ehe'e (Sliding Sands) Trail five hours later; an approximate 11-mile distance and 4,000-foot elevation change. The hiker was poorly prepared and did not possess a trail map.
After the family member reporting the missing hiker, the Maui Fire Department conducted a hasty search of the Halemau'u Trailhead, which was suspended after conditions became too dark. Search and rescue operations resumed at first light today (Monday) with National Park Service ground teams, Rescue Helicopter 1 flying out of Kahului Airport, and Maui Fire Department Station 13.
Despite inadequate preparation, water, and clothing the hiker walked out of the crater overnight through Kaupo Gap and apparently hitchhiked back to Kahului in relatively good condition.
Maui Fire Department is assessing the individual.