(Kula) A lost day hiker who failed to meet a family member at Keonehe’ehe’e Trailhead later in the day Sunday, 22 January triggered a Search and Rescue operation by Haleakala National Park Rangers and Maui County Fire Department which ended the morning of 23 January 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, 22 January. The individual apparently planned to descend down Halemau’u Trail into the crater and ascend out through Keonehe’ehe’e (Sliding Sands) Trail 5 hours later; an approximate total exceeding 11 miles and 4,000 feet total elevation change. The hiker was poorly prepared and did not possess a trail map.
After the family member reporting the missing hiker, Maui Fire Department conducted a hasty search of the Halemau’u Trailhead but suspended the search after conditions became too dark. Search and Rescue operations resumed at first light today, Tuesday, 23 January with NPS ground teams, Rescue Helicopter 1 flying out of Kahului Airport, and Maui Fire Department Station 13. Despite inadequate preparation, water, and clothing the hiker had found his own way out of the crater overnight through Kaupo Gap.
Maui Fire Department Spokesman Lee Mainaga reported that the hiker made his way out through the Kaupo Gap trail at around 9:20 a.m. today, where a motorist saw him and picked him up on Piilani Highway. Kula Fire Station’s Battalion Commander was notified and met the parties at the Kula Fire Station. The hiker was then transported to the Makawao Fire Station to be medically evaluated. No major injuries just some minor bumps and scrapes.
The ill-prepared hiker has been identified as 58 year-old Peter Meyers from New Jersey. He survived the night with a T-shirt, shorts, jacket and water.