Onward to Hana — May 30

The Ke'anae Pennisula

The Ke’anae Pennisula

I am sitting outside in the moonlight at Wai’anapanapa State Park. Listening to the waves crash in below me. It’s awesome.

I awoke at 5am at the YMCA camp and went outside to watch the sunrise. The moment I stepped outside, I felt something crawl across my bare feet, I think it was two geckos. They tickled and I jiggled my foot so they would keep on scurrying away. The sunrise was indeed magnificent. I loved the dark image of the papaya tree juxtaposed with the vivid sky colors.

I got a pretty early start as I wanted to beat the crowds on the road to Hana. I did take a little detour into the Ke’anae Penninsula and walked around the church and cemetery. The lava rock graves were adorned with fresh flowers. I admired the mountains in the distance with the clouds obscuring the peaks, snapped a few pics, and was on my way east.

At Three Bear Falls, where I stopped to take pics, I met a 69 year old man who was doing a short bike ride today, only 80 miles. Although his skin showed signs of aging from the sun, his legs were like that of a man half his age. Never got his name, but I was impressed. Speaking of making impressions – Three Bears Waterfall is an example of where less is more. When the water flow is moderate to low, the waterfall appears as three sequential waterfalls. When it is heavy, it rushes over the rocks in one larger waterfall (I did not see the latter this trip!).

Three Bears Waterfalls on the Road to Hana

Three Bears Waterfalls on the Road to Hana

Pua’a Ka’a State Park has two waterfalls and I couldn’t resist. It was only 9 am and I had the luxury of swimming alone in the water hole and under the waterfall. I did quite a few rounds in the hole and was getting my morning exercise in. At some point, I heard, and then saw, a crowd of people from Boston show up. As one would imagine, they were rather boisterous and changed the mood of place in short order. That was my cue to carry on.

The village of Naipu was another diversion off the highway, but surely worth it. It is lush beyond all measure and very quiet. The road was shut down towards the end and I parked and walked the rest of the way. The destination was just a bit above sea level, with sweeping views of the Hana coastline. The waves are violent on the north shore and a reminder that the ocean is a force not to be lightly reckoned with. I laid down on a patch of grass, read a book, and often looked up to take in the views and absorb the beauty.

Wai'anapanapa State Park

The North Coast in the Town of Naipu

As the road approaches Hana it becomes easier to navigate and arrival in Hana is anticlimactic for many people. However, I was happy to arrive, most importantly because I wanted lunch! I enjoyed Hana caught ahi in a Thai coconut curry at a local food cart. The service was very friendly and the food was fresh and well prepared. The town is not touristy at all and it is simply a slice of Hawaiian life. Very laid back and a place where the days could tick by without one’s even noticing.

A note about the Hana highway. Yes, it is extremely windy, but it isn’t even close to the experience that all the books and websites claim it to be. I got the impression I would be almost falling off a cliff and moving slow as molasses behind hordes of cars on a pitiful road. In reality, the road is awesome. The state has obviously spent a ton of money to build a most excellent road and traffic moves at a reasonable pace, in many points, about 20 miles an hour. It’s no interstate, but it is worlds better than a Forest Service road on the Mainland. Also, warnings about filling up with gas before the drive and last stop before Hana is a joke. It’s only 50 miles one way so even a gas guzzler can make it on a fraction of a tank and there are pit stops for snacks all along the way. I guess like so many things, dramatization is part of the experience.

After lunch I made my way back north a few miles to some places of interest. First stop was Kahanu Gardens. Although I arrived as they were closing down, the caretaker allowed me in for a quick visit. This is a place of about 300 acres with well-tended gardens, all relating to the ethnobotanical uses of plants by the natives. I wish I had had more time to wander there, but I needed to be out in less than an hour. There were signs asking visitors to not step near the coconut trees. I have no idea if this is true, but the caretaker told me there are more deaths in Hawaii by fallen coconuts, than there are from shark attacks. This site contains a heiau, an ancient temple constructed of lava rocks. It has steps that eventually led to a platform at the top and it reminded me of the Mayan ruins in Central America. It is large and exudes a powerful energy that could be felt, simply by standing in front of it and listening (we were not allowed to climb up it – bummer!). Being the plant lover that I am, I am thrilled that I got to Kahanu Gardens, even if the visit was rushed. It is a gem of the Hana region.

Wai'anapanapa State Park

A Heiua Pi‘ilanihale (House of Pi‘ilani)

Just down the road a bit was Hana lava tube. The actual tube runs from the mountains behind Hana, all the way to the ocean and it would take 27 hours to walk through it. The part that is open to the public is just a fraction of that, but what an interesting fraction. There were formations that resemble cauliflower and Hershey’s kisses. I wandered through this tunnel that was formed 960 years ago and since then, nothing has eroded and nothing has grown – it is simply a snapshot, frozen in time. I chuckled to myself when leaving, because I have attempted to get to the Lava Tubes in Oregon half a dozen times since I have lived there, and each time, something or another has prevented me from going. Season JUST ended, got there as it was closing for the day, they wouldn’t let me leave my dog tied up outside, the government shutdown happened THAT morning, etc. Anyway, this tube was very cool and a motivator that if I can get to the tubes in Maui, I surely can get to the tubes in Bend – no more ifs, ands, or buts.

It was about 3 pm when I got to Wai’anapanapa State Park. I set up my tent and enjoyed relaxing for a bit, looking at the guide books to see what called to me for the remainder of the trip. I had already read them, but often when I arrive at a destination, I choose to shift things around a bit.

On the lawn where the tents were set up was a blanket of plantain leaves (Plantago, which is different than the plantain that looks like a banana). Plantain seems to grow everywhere I ever go on the planet – it’s the #1 band-aid plant. So I chewed up a leaf and put it on a spot on the bottom of my right foot, where I had yesterday removed a little black pebble that had found its way to getting embedded there. I had removed the pebble with cuticle cutters. And I have to say that they are so useful that they should be in everyone’s first aid kit. I use them often, including in place of tweezers.

I did however want to get some bonified exercise before dark. There is a path that goes from the park south to Hana Bay. It did not have a lot of elevation change, but the path was craggily and one must take great care to not hurt their ankle. The lava rocks, with plants growing out of them, resemble the lava with manzanita or salal in Oregon. The vegetation changed during the hike and palms and some kind of evergreen tree dominated certain sections. The ocean was stunning and I got a real show of clouds and sunset. I was getting a pretty good workout and after 50 minutes of walking one way, I forced myself to turn back, knowing it would be dark in an hour. Funny thing is, I noticed certain things on my way back that I didn’t see on my way there – a ladder in a precarious place on the rocks, a rock formation and things of this nature. My timing was perfect, as it was getting dark just as I approached the campground. The crickets, the waves, the moonlight and the balmy air – I have my own little piece of paradise and am very grateful.

Sunset on the Trail at Wai'anapanapa State Park

Sunset on the Trail at Wai’anapanapa State Park

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