Friday, March 18, 2011

West Maui Hiking

Last weekend, the day after the Tsunami struck Maui, we decided to do a little hiking around West Maui - playing things safe and staying away from the beaches for at least another day! A good friend of my parents, Wayne (who I remember fondly from childhood vacations on Maui), was on island and decided to join us. Even at 70 yrs old Wayne is an avid hiker and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. Wayne lives in New Jersey, somewhere near Joel's grandparents, so he and Joel bonded over that and we made plans to get together with him next time we're back in that area.

So anyway, Saturday morning Joel, Dean and I headed out with my Mom and Wayne and 2 of Wayne's friends to do some hiking. We ended up doing a lot more than we had originally planned - probably hiking for a total of about 4+ miles. Dean did awesome though - walking almost the entire time except for the very beginning of the first hike where it was extremely steep and right on a cliff edge so Joel carried him (for safety reasons) and a little at the very end when we (the grown-ups) were mostly just tired of the slow pace. I'm continually amazed at what a great little hiker Dean is at 4 yrs old. We're contemplating taking him on his first overnight trip into the crater next month, which would involve a little over 5 miles of hiking down switchbacks to get to the cabin inside the crater, camping overnight where it gets very cold (but inside a cabin), and then hiking back out UP those same 5 miles of switchbacks the next day. We'll see.

But anyway, our hiking adventures last weekend were super fun! We did 13 Crossings (one of our favorites with Dean) as well as another shorter hike that's a bit more strenuous below the highway near the same area (you park in the same spot). It was a beautiful day and I took TONS of pictures, so here ya go...

The first part of the trail (this is the one below the highway heading down a gulch towards the ocean) was the really steep part where Dean had to be carried. But once we got past that scary part, Dean was good and had so much fun! He found a bunch of moss to "pet", the trail followed a stream so he got to throw rocks into water and check out some pools and little waterfalls, he played "Tarzan" by swinging from a tree on a vine, he got to hide in a banyan tree, etc.
At the end of this trail (well, as far we went anyway) there is this big Banyan tree growing right on the edge of a rock face. Joel and Wayne (remember, 70 yrs old!) used the roots of the Banyan tree to climb down the rock face and check out a good sized waterfall and pool. You could keep going a ways, but because we had Dean with us, this is where we turned around and headed back to the road.
When we got back to the car, we decided since we were already in the area we might as well go ahead and do 13 Crossings too - it was a beautiful day and Dean was having a blast, so we went for it! There's so much cool stuff on the 13 Crossings hike - boulder hopping across the stream (13 times), the jungle, wild strawberries growing along the trail that Dean loved picking and eating, a bamboo forest, and lots of really cool trees to check out.
(Eating a wild strawberry)
And finally, at the end of the trail is a really cool waterfall. Dean wanted to swim in the waterfall SO bad, but he didn't have his swim trunks on. Next thing I knew, he was stripping down and headed into the pool naked! I figured what the hell - he's only got a few more years that he can get away with it, so why not? That water was COLD, but he would not be deterred - he was swimming in the waterfall with Wayne and the ladies! Fortunately, Joel was willing to get in with him (and was wearing swim trunks) because I certainly wasn't going in!!
Another kind of cool thing was when we finished the hike and got back to the road we ran into 3 people at the trailhead who were talking to us about some different hikes on Maui. They looked at Joel and Dean and I and were like "you look familiar. Do you guys have a blog?". It turns out they had done a Google search about hiking on Maui and our blog was one of the first on the list (meaning it gets a lot of hits) and they recognized us from our blog posts. So yeah, we're cool like that. {waving to random people who found us through Google}. So I'm sure Dean will one day love that I posted his bare ass on the internet for the whole world to see! ha!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hoapili Trail / King's Highway

We went hiking Sunday morning in South Maui for a few miles along the Hoapili Trail, or King's Highway, across the lava fields past La Perouse Bay along the Makena Coast. This trail is part of the old Native Hawaiian trail system that encircled the island and allowed the Ali'i (royalty) to walk from village to village along the coast and keep an eye on things - hence the name "King's Highway". You can still see remnants of this trail in several parts of Maui - this hiking trail, around the Hana area, the Lahaina Pali trail was once part of the King's Highway, and word has it that many of our current coastal roads (the Pali, probably Makena Road, probably parts of Hana Highway, etc) were built on top of the old King's Highway. Too bad they had to cover up such an important piece of Hawaiian history and culture. But lucky for us there are at least a few places we can go and walk in the footsteps of the ancient Hawaiians. And let me tell you - when you're way out there on this trail - it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine what Maui must have been like 100+ years ago. This part of the island is super isolated - the trailhead is literally at the end of the road for cars - you park at La Perouse, which the southernmost end of old Makena Road - you can't drive a car any farther around the southern coast of Maui - that's as far as you can go! There's nothing after that. So we parked at La Perouse along with LOTS of tourists who (fortunately for us) didn't seem to realize that the real sight-seeing is on down the coast along the trail (meaning we had the place pretty much to ourselves once we got going). Of course there were several locals too - fisherman mostly. And we set out to enjoy an absolutely BEAUTIFUL Maui day! We didn't make it as far as we had planned - to the "Green Sand Beach" (Kanaio Beach) - because hiking with a 4-yr-old is majorly slow going. Dean is an awesome hiker, but he's SLOOOOW. He wants to stop every 25 feet to pick up a rock or a shell or a cool stick or leaf or call us over to look at something in a tide pool. So after about an hour and a half of hiking (I guess we had probably made it about a mile and a half at that point) we decided to turn around and head back to the car - we could tell Dean was getting tired and it was starting to get pretty warm. That part of the island, over all that lava, is super exposed - there's not much shade and lava gets HOT in the Maui sun. But we had a BLAST! There isn't much foliage on this trail, but what growth there is was actually green this day, which is rare for that part of the island - usually the kiawe trees are super dry and brittle. But all the rain we've had lately had resulted in lots of leaves on the few trees and even some undergrowth - so that was a real treat!! And of course, as always, Dean LOVED exploring all the little tide pools along the way. Lots of life - sea cucumbers, anemones, urchins, small fish, crabs, etc. And we saw a few whales too. It was a great day and a really fun hike that we plan to do again sometime soon! Here are several pics from our adventure...

And this is actually what the majority of the trail looks like - very exposed and lots and lots of loose lava rock over the lava flow from the most recent eruption from Haleakala (a little over 200 yrs ago):