hacker emblem
jaegerfesting
Search | Tags | Photos | Flights | Gas Mileage | Log in

Waihe'e Ridge

Started: 2018-12-28 20:14:10

Submitted: 2018-12-29 11:55:03

Visibility: World-readable

16th November 2018: In which the intrepid narrator contemplates Hawaiian history, sees a great banyan tree, and climbs a ridge above the ocean

At the end of my employer-funded trip to Maui, I had the option of extending my trip and flying back later than Friday afternoon. Having flown all the way to Maui, I thought it made sense to stick around another day to see a bit more of the island. (And then it turned out that I got a Saturday night red-eye flight back to Seattle, so I basically had two more days on the island.)

I ate breakfast at my resort-hotel, the Sheraton Maui at Kaanapali, then checked out and drove into Lahaina, the main town on the western coast of Maui. I parked near King Kamehameha III Elementary School and walked past the school while speakers announced the morning calisthenics program for the school's students (and reminded volunteers to move their cars in the free parking lot before the three-hour time limit expired).

Banyan tree in Lahaina
Banyan tree in Lahaina

The first thing I saw in town was the giant banyan tree in the middle of town, between the small harbor (where my snorkel expedition the day prior docked) and the strip lined with tiny shops targeting tourists. (Many of the shops were art galleries showing high-end (albeit somewhat kitschy) art, obviously targeting the sort of tourist with disposable income (like, uh, me; though I didn't see anything that caught my eye while walking past).)

Banyan tree in Lahaina
Banyan tree in Lahaina

The banyan tree covered the entire square, with more than a dozen supplemental trunks supporting the weight of the tree as it branched out, and aerial roots hanging from the branches like prehensile tentacles waiting to grab and devour unsuspecting victims. People sat on benches under the tree, obviously untroubled by the looming threat of the aerial roots hanging innocently under the branches. The tree was so big I couldn't get a good picture: I needed an immersive virtual reality camera to capture the full scope and size of the massive tree.

I stepped into the nearby Old Lahaina Courthouse, immediately behind the banyan tree, and looked around the various exhibits inside the building, including a large 3D relief model of the island of Maui, which helped orient me in the island, and identify the various points of interest around the island. One room contained a collection of artifacts from Hawaiian history, though it glossed over the history of precisely how Hawaii transitioned from a kingdom to a republic to a US territory.

Lahaina Harbor and Lana'i Island
Lahaina Harbor and Lana'i Island

I wandered around the shops in Lahaina, looking for trinkets to bring home, trying to find the right amount of kitsch. I bought a hand-carved wooden sea turtle from a vendor at a kiosk in the street (who was, at that moment, carving more turtles); a small sea turtle necklace for Kiesa, and two brightly-colored refrigerator magnets for my children: an octopus and a gecko.

I ate lunch in Lahaina then drove out of town, heading south along the two-lane highway running along the coast. The road clung to the side of the island, between tiny perfect white-sand beaches and steep grass-covered slopes climbing towards the summit of West Maui.

I drove through the isthmus between the twin volcanic summits of West Maui and Haleakalā to Waihe'e Ridge Trail, a 2.5-mile-long trail climbing 1500 feet above the rugged northern coast of Maui.

Hillside off the Waihe'e Ridge Trail
Hillside off the Waihe'e Ridge Trail

The trail started at 1000 feet and began with a brisk climb up a steep paved road, then disappeared into a forest. The sky had become overcast, casting a gray light over the hillside covered in more shades of green than I could count.

Ascending the Waihe'e Ridge Trail
Ascending the Waihe'e Ridge Trail

After climbing for some distance through forest, the view opened up with a steep drop-off to the left of the trail, giving me an expansive view of Kahului to the east, the green grassy slopes of West Maui to the west, and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline to the north. The clouds looming overhead threatened rain at any moment, but did not deliver rain until after I finished the hike.

Looking down towards Kahului
Looking down towards Kahului

From my vantage point, perched on the trail on the ridge (with signs warning me from straying too close to the edge) I could look down into the valley below me to see the lush jungle clinging to the steep volcanic slopes with a tiny stream running down the middle of the valley. The low clouds obscured my view of the summit of West Maui, but what I could see was impressive.

Huluhulupueo Stream under low clouds on Maui
Huluhulupueo Stream under low clouds on Maui

The ridge narrowed, and the trail clung tenaciously to the crest of the ridge, between the hillside dropping off on both sides.

Ascending Waihe'e Ridge
Ascending Waihe'e Ridge

The steepest part of the ridge had stair steps embedded into the dirt, giving me the impression of a stairway climbing to a monastery.

Stairs climbing Waihe'e Ridge
Stairs climbing Waihe'e Ridge

And then, suddenly, I reached the end of the trail, marked by a picnic table and a fence trying to keep me from climbing further up the ridge. At 2500 feet I could feel the cloud ceiling looming above me, obscuring my view of the summit. I stood on top of the picnic table and took a video selfie, spinning around to capture 360° of view behind me.

I descended the trail back to the car, and drove to Kihei, where I'd booked a hotel room for one last night in Maui.

For a few more photos from Waihe'e Ridge, see Photos on 2018-11-16.

If you want to kiss the sky, you had better learn how to kneel.
- U2, "Mysterious Ways"