Why aren’t you running?
The original plan was to participate in the Revel Kulia marathon Saturday on the island of Hawai’i (aka the big island), hop a flight to Maui and do the Maui Oceanfront Marathon on Sunday. That was before I realized plantar fasciitis had kind of turned me into a hobbling mess after 10k. I tried taking time off after finishing the 3rd round at Kiawah Island, only to wind up tapping out at the Turks and Caicos Marathon. After having my time utterly wasted by the folks at Dr. Kevin Shrock’s office, I consulted with a podiatrist who suggested a number of things, including extracorporeal shock wave treatment (ESWT) which I credit for having gotten me back in the game. Unfortunately I can’t easily replace the months of time lost to the all-purpose fuckery suggested by the nurse practitioner collecting specialists rates at Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. But enough of me trashing the nurses office masquerading as a doctor’s office…
Big Island Hike
While I was forgoing the marathons, Chris, my companion for the trip, would be a pacer for the Revel Kulia marathon. He had arrived a couple days early and was exploring all the big island at coffee plantations and such until graciously picking me up at the airport. We got a dinner the night before at a pizza place, and the morning of I drove him to the race start and puttered around the strip mall area where the race would finish and the shuttle buses picked passengers up. Once the sun came up I went on a hike through the lava fields that run alongside the mall. Once I got far enough away from the Waikoloa resort area I saw a stand of trees on a secluded looking beach. It turns out there is a historic home open to the public during very limited hours, but you can walk around the fence along the lava field and access a black pebble beach at Keawaiki Bay. It was a great payoff for a short hike, but the sun was getting higher in the air and if I wanted to see my friends finish the race I needed to get back.
I made it back in time to see Chris finish strong despite being pretty beaten down by an oppressive heat. I congratulated Chris in person and Cade via text, because I’d missed seeing finish only to find he was at the Normatech booth. We had arranged a situation whereby Cade, Ed, Chris, and I could all pool together to shower those who needed it, and get to the airport in time to make our flight to Maui. So it all worked out quite well and we were all off to Maui.
Maui is the Hawaiian island with which I am most familiar. This was my 3rd time to Maui and I was eager to show Chris, who was mostly familiar with the sites of Oahu, around. Once we arrived at the airport we picked up the car he had arranged for and we headed into Lahaina. We got ourselves some Dole Whip, a yummy dairy-free soft serve that is as addictive as crack, my race kit since it was in Lahaina anyway, and scoped out some touristy stuff to bring back home while we waited for the sunset. As we walked along Front Street I remembered there are rocks in an overhang along the beach shore where you can sit and watch the sunset, the masses of people passing by on the thoroughfare, a private piece of the island even if you’re actually 3 feet away from the noise of Front Street. So from there we watched the sunset and just chilled until it was time to head to the hotel.
The Road to Hana
So the first time I came to Maui the one thing I wanted to do was the Road to Hana. Unfortunately Alex, my ex, did not feel similarly so I missed out. Boy did I miss out. The second time I came to Maui I made certain I was driving the Hana Highway, and I was not disappointed. I got a late start, and I took my time, but I was able to see most of what needed before I needed to head back on a much more treacherous drive as the light was fading. If you’re not familiar with the Hana Highway go put it into your google machine with a healthy shovelful of coal, uranium, or the tears of children (whatever yours runs on). You’ll see pictures of hairpin turns, one lane bridges, beautiful waterfalls, et cetera. What you need to understand is that however pretty it looks on your Google machine, I can assure you it is FAR FAR better in person. It is also one of the more dangerous highways in America because of falling rocks, water on the roadway, inattentive drivers staring off into majestic blue waters/cliffs/bamboo forests, or taking selfiegrams and instapods or whatever the hell it is you kids do these days when you’re not on my damn lawn!
Anyway the detail I neglected to mention when selling Chris on this trip our first day was that the point of the Road to Hana IS the road. It is NOT Hana. Make a note: As in much of life, the point is not to just get somewhere, how you get there is as important, if not more so.
First stop on our trip was a hike through Twin Falls, a side excursion not far down the road with a roadside stand selling drinks and snacks to tourists eager to take the short hikes to several streams along the path. Twin Falls is hit or miss depending upon how extensively you explore, and the current temperature of the water. In our case because the water was quite frigid I didn’t push to explore too much further, but most tourists stick to the main trails without exploring the footpaths here there and everywhere leading to oodles of pools, waterfalls, swinging ropes, etc. If the temperatures accommodate it, jump right in. Unfortunately there is currently some fire ant infestation along some of the trails so mind the signs and you’ll be good. The trails are free, but maintained by goodwill donations give generously for this rare opportunity to hang in the beauty of nature.
Along the way we stopped at numerous waterfalls and had a few opportunities to dip into the water. Again the temperatures weren’t really conducive to a full on plunge, but on at least one occasion I climbed down a rope to a little area next to a the stream alongside the highway and appreciate the falls up close. Getting out of that hole up by pulling myself up the rope was more challenging than I recall when I was young but I managed.
We had hoped to go to a botanic garden along the highway, but after a bouncy trip along a very marginal road we discovered it was not open on Sundays. However on the way back to the highway we stumbled upon the Hana Lava Tube, a little tourist trap along the way that offered an opportunity to explore this hollowed out tube that used to transport molten rock. It is a self guided tour with placards along the way explaining features of the tube. It’s maybe a 1/3 of a mile in length with one very low spot you’ll have to duck or limbo under, but well worth it’s inexpensive price of admission that includes a strong lantern to help you see where you are going. Something I could have used for exploring the lava tube in Hilo on the big island last year.
We stopped at Wai’anapanapa State Park to explore the black sand beach including a little hole on the side of the beach that opens up to cave facing the ocean. When last I was on this beach it was the end of the day and I virtualy had this little cave to myself. This time at midday it was chock-a-block with tourists, still a great view however. After the black sand beach we headed up to a blow hole, but the tide and the waves weren’t co-operating to make the blow hole blow, and as it started spitting another light rain we headed back to the car to head to the hotel for the night. Along the way we stopped at a roadside stand for a coffee and some lilikoi (or parchita if you’re Puerto Rican, maracuya if you’re South American, or passionfruit if you’re a gringo) and poked around a bamboo forest. The forest, situated alongside the Hana Highway, is surreal, but before long we came to a quickly flowing stream that I wanted to cross to see what was on the other side. Chris, ever the voice of reason, advised against it, so we turned back, maybe in a drier season. Ultimately we arrived back home in time for a delicious dinner at the restaurant neighboring our hotel with a somewhat clouded view of the setting sun.
Monday morning we headed out for breakfast at a place near our hotel in Kihei and on the long drive to Haleakala National Park. The focus of the park is its eponymous shield volcano. While it’s only a 10,000 ft peak, fully 3/4 of Maui is formed by the volcano, which offers a breathtaking, if difficult to attend, view of the sunrise, some of the cleanest air you’ve ever breathed, and an otherworldly landscape that at times looks like a mountain, and at other times looks like Mars. After a quick stop by the Visitor’s Center for me to get my passport stamped (total parks nerd). we headed up to the summit before heading out onto the Sliding Sands trail. If you have the time and are feeling adventurous the beginning of the trailhead to the end is about 11 miles, plan to spend all day and get a ride from visitors at the bottom at one of the authorized hiker pickups (literally hitch hiking) back to the top for your car. We hiked down to the floor of the crater (note: while it is a crater due to the collapse of the volcano, it is NOT a caldera), before turning around to head back home in hopes of making sunset. Maybe an extra half hour and we we might have reached Pele’s Paint Pot, but we would not have made it home in time to catch the sunset. Next time an earlier start at sunrise will make for a better and longer trip. Instead we had a long slow climb out of the pit. Needless to say I met my step and floors goal for the day this MLK Day. Speaking of, Chris graciously tolerated my reading extensively from Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail on the drive back. Once we arrived to our hotel in Kihei it was just about time for the first cloudless sunset of our trip. We joined maybe 100 people on the beach all staring directly at the sun. We are a simple people sometimes…
Iao Valley State Park
Tuesday would be our last day in Maui so we planned for a shorter trip. A stop at a coffee shop while I wrote some postcards, and then a trip to Iao Valley State Monument. Iao means “cloud supreme,” and while it sounds like a crossover Final Fantasy Character/Taco Bell menu item. The park offers a number of basic trails that offer a view of the needle, a lava remnant, some gardens, a view of the lush rainforest environment nestled in the West Maui Mountains, and views of steams, BUT if you’re persistent, adventurous, and a little stupid there are trails that aren’t so much meant for your average minivan family, It means slippery muddy hillsides, scratchy underbrush. This is what I dragged poor Chris through. I kept thinking “I wonder how much further this goes” and we would climb what seemed like 100 ft. I’d look back, expecting to see my companion, thoroughly irritated, but I would look back and see a scratched up, slightly muddy, slightly bug-bitten Chris with a smile on his face, but at a certain point I had to wonder, how easy is this going to be to get back down since the hillside is muddy, and we have a flight to catch, so after what I think was about 3 miles we turned back, reaching the stream that runs though the park. Having checked out of the hotel we didn’t really have a place to shower, so cautiously I stripped down a bit and tried to get the dirt and sweat off me. The water was brisk, but so welcome. This moment, just floating in the stream was, for me, the best moment of the trip. We celebrated a successful hike with Hawaiian shaved ice before heading to the airport to our respective flights.
Each time I visit Maui I have a list of things I want to do next time. I have yet to visit the Kipahulu district of Haleakala National Park, the portion of the park with the touristy 7 sacred pools (hint: there are more than 7 pools, and they are not sacred). I’m not real heartbroken about that, but at some point I should probably go. If you can get there before all the people show up or after they leave I imagine it would be lovely. Perhaps a beach day at Makena State Park or Kaanapali where I recall seeing a sea turtle while snorkeling on my first trip to Maui. Snorkeling in Molokini, a cinder cone just off the Southeast coast of Maui was a highlight of my first trip as well. I would love to repeat that, perhaps with scuba gear one day. Any of the hikes I went on in this list would be great to continue, and of course exploring new places always makes for an adventure.