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):

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