Day 3: WEST MAUI INTERLUDE
When Julie and I awoke on this day, Julie was relieved at not having to get up at 2:30am in the morning again. She was already starting to feel under the weather and she blamed me for it for making her get up in the morning for this sunrise yesterday.
So today, it was decided to go around West Maui. This one promised to be shorter than the full day excursion we did yesterday. And perhaps the weather might be a bit more cooperative as well.
So as we left our Lahaina accommodation, we drove north through Ka’anapali, and then we went towards some golf course in pursuit of the so-called Dragon’s Teeth. This was some kind of jagged rock formation that was sandwiched between a golf course and the ocean.
In any case, the Dragon’s Teeth was pretty cool. And it was certainly different than what we had seen up to this point on this trip.
Next, we continued the drive up north. By this point, it seemed like we left civilization and we were now essentially back to nature again.
The first stop we did was to look for the Nakalele Blowhole. After following the directions on the Blue Book, we’d eventually stop the car and pursued a rather obscure lava scramble that the Blue Book dubbed the Acid Warzone or something like that.
For it was here that the terrain seemed pretty beat up by a combination of severe sea erosion along with strange lava shapes from back when the stuff solidified. Since we had our minds set on looking for the blowhole, we really didn’t pay too much attention to the rocks here, but we did notice another smaller blowhole set against the ocean in a picturesque (albeit turbulent) setting.
Eventually, we saw some people gathered near what appeared to be the Nakalele Blowhole itself. We didn’t recall seeing them before, and thus we figured out that they must’ve taken a much easier and quicker way to the blowhole than the Acid Warzone we went through.
In one moment, it seemed like a rogue wave hit the rocks sheltering this blowhole area enough to splash everyone that was standing here. I guess that kind of reinforced just how close to the violence of Nature we really were, and that kind of suggested to us that we really shouldn’t linger here much longer.
After we were done with the Nakalele Blowhole, we were then in search of the so-called Olivine Pools. We couldn’t quite follow the directions of where we were supposed to stop. So we ended up settling for nice coastal views where there were protruding lava rocks below us looking in one direction and the Kahakuloa Head in the other direction.
Beyond this area, as we were getting closer to the big rock protrusion that I believed was the Kahakuloa Head, the road seemed to get narrower. At this point, traffic seemed to get lighter as it seemed somehow we left most of the tourists behind (even though we were in no hurry).
In any case, we just continued driving along as the road continued to get narrower and then started to get unpaved. Having just gone through a long stretch of unpaved roads past Hana yesterday, the thought on my mind was, “Here we go again…”
The drive at first was fairly benign even though the roads were narrowing. But it wasn’t long before this unpaved road became single-lane road. And as we continued further on this road, there was now the scary everpresent danger of dropoffs to one side as it didn’t have guard rails!
In one hairy instance, there was a car going the other way. When he met up with us, we were both stopped trying to figure out how we were going to pass each other.
Eventually, I decided to back up the car nervously towards a real tiny space against the cliffs but away from the dropoff. I was backing up as far as I could until the bumper of the car literally touched the cliff and I couldn’t back up anymore.
It was at that point that the other car slowly made its way past us between the edge of the road and our car. That was certainly one of the scariest moments in a car both Julie and I had to deal with, but fortunately, that one passed without further incident. However, we were now always fearful of another car coming up our way and having to deal with another type of tricky pass maneuver again.
Eventually we made it into the town of Kahakuloa before the road started climbing again. At some point along the climb, there was pullout or turnoff with a nice view of some valley. We weren’t sure which valley it was, but I suspected it might have been Honokohau Valley.
Eventually, we got out of the hairy unpaved section of road and the road started to be paved again. There were some tight hairpin turns in this stretch as well as some kind of garden or other structure that we merely passed by without stopping.
With all this driving, we were thirsty for another worthwhile photo op, and it turned out that we got it with a waterfall, which was noticeably absent for most of this part of the island. But in any case, we managed to make a roadside stop for one of them, which we thought was the Lower Makamaka’ole Falls.
Continuing on, the road got increasingly wider and eventually became two-lane road again. We decided to make the turnoff towards the Waihe’e Ridge Trail since I was itching to get out of the car and do a hike.
At first we ended up at some empty building complex that turned out to be some Boy Scout Camp. Eventually, we figured out that we missed the trailhead and quickly backtracked to where we were supposed to park the car.
The hike started off with a steep but paved incline that definitely took a lot of wind away from me. Eventually when I got to its top, I saw there were views of a waterfall in the distance, which I suspected was the Makamaka’ole Falls.
Eventually, I’d reach a point where I got a nice panoramic view of Waihe’e Valley. I recalled there was a bench here so it was as if the trailblazers here knew where the good photo and rest stops would be along the trail.
On this clear day, I looked back towards Haleakala and could see the entire shape of its shield volcano. Given our bad experience so far with looking for a sunrise atop the volcano, I wondered if tomorrow or the day after might be the next opportunity to seize the moment so-to-speak.
Anyways, while examining Waihe’e Valley from this top down vantage point, I did notice a waterfall in there. I believed it was Mana-nole Falls. It looked like part of it was cut off by the mountains sloping before it so it wasn’t totally a satisfying view. But it did look tall.
Next, I contemplated whether to continue with the hike towards the Waihe’e Ridge summit itself. Knowing that there was still a ways to go to get up there and I could see some clouds clustering at the summit, I decided to just go back down the hill so Julie wouldn’t be waiting too long.
When I got back to the car, there was still one more thing left to do on this day. So we followed the Blue Book’s directions towards another turnoff, which was for the Waihe’e Valley Trail.
I thought perhaps this trail might lead me to a better view of Mana-nole Falls.
In any case, we managed to drive the narrow roads towards what appeared to be a lot with signage as well as some beat up rusted pick-up trucks just left here. There were already a handful of cars here so we just found some space where we could leave the car and do the hike (Julie was joining me this time).
Of course, we always worried about break-ins.
And so Julie and I embarked on the Waihe’e Valley Trail, which started off immediately with an uphill climb. Eventually, this climb flattened out and then we were pretty much meandering along a trail that was flanked by ditches (said to be built by Chinese immigrants) as well as some jungle.
We’d then reach what appeared to be a swinging bridge. Even though the stream over which the bridge crossed looked dry and bouldery, we decided to just go over the bridge anyways since we had never gone over such a bridge before.
The bridge didn’t look sturdy enough to support both of us at the same time (though I believed there was a sign there saying what the person limit was), but I also didn’t want to bounce the bridge with my walking while Julie was on the bridge anyways.
So after crossing over this bridge, we walked through a short section of bush before we encountered yet another swinging bridge. This time, it looked like we needed to cross on this bridge as it was much longer and there was a lot of stream and thick foliage down below.
This was one bridge where we definitely concentrated on.
Throughout this section of the hike, we could hear there were waterfalls, but there would be no way of photographing them well given the thick foliage. In a couple of instances, I tried to photograph them through the foliage, but they just didn’t turn out.
There were a couple more unbridged stream crossings before we could finally see in the distance that there was the Mana-nole Falls again. However, this time we were totally looking against the sun so it wasn’t very photogenic and quite hard to see.
After several minutes more of what seemed to be a rather long hike at this point, we finally reached the ‘Ali’ele Falls. This one was said to be man-modified and we could see why.
It basically was a stream going over some kind of man-made wall. We weren’t sure what the man-modification was for, nor did we care. We just saw there were quite a few folks here jumping into the deep pool and cooling off. Julie and I were just checking out the scene though still mindful of the mosquitoes hovering around us.
When we had our fill of this falls, we then hastily headed back to the car as it was getting late in the day. We took one more view of Mana-nole Falls, in which this second look also revealed another waterfall near it, but we would get no closer and have no better view of it.
Eventually, we’d be back at the car in the late afternoon or early evening, where thankfully no one broke into the car. We then drove back through Wailuku, and then south through the isthmus passing by the turnoff for the ‘Iao Needle (which we saw on the day we arrived), and then went around the familiar bend past Ma’alaea and back to Lahaina.
It was a long day, and we celebrated with a nice dinner at one of the joints with a view of the water somewhere not far from our hotel. I recalled some bar or some restaurant had the Coldplay song “Clocks” turned up, and it seemed to be a pretty appropriate end to this day.