Hawai’i – Day 6

Day 6 dawned crisp and clear, and we decided to head to the beach to catch some waves and ride boogie boards. None of us are surfers, of course, but this is an easy way to coast along the surf near the shore. To our disappointment, the sea was very calm. Laralee insisted on giving it a go anyway, but she pretty much just floated in place on her board:

Since that was a dud, Kurt and I donned our snorkeling gear and headed out into the ocean to look at some nearby rocks and reefs. It was another great display of schools of fish, colorful coral, and a handful of sea turtles. It’s very relaxing to just float on top of the water, letting the waves gently push you to and fro, and watch all the activity on the ocean floor below. That said, after three days, I was finding snorkeling to be a little monotonous. It was time for something new.

So we sat on the beach for half an hour, watching the (small) waves wash ashore, chatting about various things, and generally enjoying a lazy morning in the sand.

After washing off the sand, we piled into the car and headed for the north shore of Maui, for what is perhaps the most famous “attraction”: the Road to Hana. There’s a 34-mile stretch of road that runs from Kahalui along the northern edge of the island, eventually arriving at a little village called Hana on the east. Supposedly it’s so beautiful, with so many waterfalls and forests and ocean views, that you actually get insensitized to all of the gorgeous scenery. We put it to the test.

As it turned out, we weren’t disappointed. After a mediocre lunch in a weird tourist-ey town called Paia, we pulled off for a trek through a bamboo forest to a few waterfalls. The forest was an amazing place: the bamboo was incredibly dense, and everything was green in every direction. In some areas the trail, such as it was, became a narrow path through walls of bamboo.

Looking up, the trees shot skyward and were basically a hundred feet or more of long, straight sticks with some leaves at the very top. It was so cool.

After maybe a mile of this, we arrived at the first of several waterfalls. It was gorgeous, perhaps thirty or forty feet high, spilling into a pool.

It’s too bad we didn’t wear swimming gear– it would’ve been fun to paddle around the pool a bit, and maybe dip into the falls for a moment. We moved on, and soon arrived at another waterfall that was around twenty feet high:

At this one, a few people were cliff-jumping from the top into the pool. Again, I wished I’d been wearing my swim trunks, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day in soaking wet clothes. After a bit more hiking, we came to a third set of falls, roughly forty feet high:

We wanted to go on, but at this point the trail required a scramble up a twenty-foot cliff (there was a frayed rope to help), and a hundred-foot swim across a pond before arriving at the final waterfall. We opted to turn back, and enjoyed the trek through the bamboo again. La and I thought it would be cool to bring back a piece of bamboo– perhaps a foot long– so I looked for a fallen tree I could hack apart. I had my hunting knife with me. Although it’s deadly sharp, it’s not useful for cutting through the incredibly hard bamboo wood.

I discovered this the hard way, as I applied some pressure but slipped. The knife sliced through my little finger, cutting straight through to the bone. Blood was gushing out, and I was able to squeeze it shut and apply pressure for the rest of the hike back to the car. Once there, I prepared to apply a bandage to it (I carry a knife in my pack but also carry bandages– good thing). Unfortunately the wound was too deep, and the blood ran freely, so it would’ve soaked right through the bandage in seconds. Instead, I wrapped it tightly in a tissue and just held it for the remainder of the afternoon. Good times.

We continued on the Road to Hana, which soon changed from a small two-lane highway to a single-lane hairpin-turn road much like the one we’d experienced the day before. Kurt was driving (I was still holding my finger together) and he grew to appreciate the joy of navigating these half-planned Hawai’ian roads. We managed to avoid any head-on collisions, though, and eventually turned off at Ke’anae on the north shore. It was late afternoon, and the waves were pounding the shoreline. It was even more impressive than yesterday’s waves at the blowhole, and once again pictures fail to capture the sheer power of the water.

The beach was all lava rock, but the incessant pounding of water has smoothed the normally sharp pumice down to rounded beach rocks:

We all stood there for a while, watching the display of water versus rock. Of course it seemed like the rocks are immovable, but we all know that over time, water always wins. This is a place where the battle is fought all day long, every day.

We turned back on the highway and headed for dinner and our hotel. A quick stop at Walmart procured some bandages, medical tape, and super glue. I pulled the bloody tissue off my finger (reopening the wound, yikes) and in the midst of blood pumping out and running down the sink, La poured super glue all over the gash. It took a couple of applications, but eventually we staunched the wound and were able to wrap it in a bandage and tape. I shudder to think how all of this will turn out when I eventually have to tear the glue off my finger. We talked about whether it would’ve made more sense to head to an urgent care facility, but in the end I’m guessing they would’ve done much the same thing anyway, so instead of paying five hundred bucks for some glue on my finger, we accomplished it for about five. I suspect I’ll have an interesting scar when all is said and done…