The day following my brutal 16-mile run, Jax and I decided to go hiking. Never mind the fact that my legs were so sore I could barely bend them, causing my attempts at walking to resemble that of an uncoordinated toddler with little muscle control. Alas, you can’t let things like this slow you down in Hawaii, where there is just too much fun to be had to let a little lactic acid get in the way.
We started the day with breakfast in a cute little hippie town called Paia, then hit the Hana Highway in all its tropical glory. The road twists and turns along the coastal rainforest and offers the most breathtaking views you’ve ever seen. Clusters of lush foliage and flowers frame the deep blue expanse of ocean below, and every bend reveals a gorgeous panorama. Since we had already spent several hours exploring the winding Road to Hana with Jax’s family earlier in the week, we didn’t stop for all of the sights along the way this time. (More on our initial excursion soon, though at the rate I’m going, said future date could easily extend to summer of next year. But stay tuned.)
We set our sites on the small town of Hana, about 55 miles away, and we didn’t detour until we arrived at our intended destination, Honokalani Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park. This dramatic beach is tucked away in a little alcove set among seaside cliffs and lava tubes, and the sand is actually small, smooth lava pebbles.
We walked along the ocean bluff above the beach and admired the waves violently crashing against the rocks, forcing gusts of ocean spray into the air. Then, we spent some time climbing around in the seaside caves.
Once we had our fill of black sand, we headed to Haleakala National Park for an afternoon of hiking. We ended up going about 4.5 miles roundtrip, and the various treasures we encountered along the way were just stunning. We climbed along the Pipiwai Trail, every now and then stopping at some scenic lookout, waterfall, or hidden pool. Eventually, we came to the mysterious Bamboo Forest, which is quite possibly my favorite forest ever in the world. I have never seen anything like it. For miles in every direction are thousands of dense bamboo stalks of yellow and green, towering over your head. Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes and she’s gone….
Sidetracked by The Beatles. It happens. Let’s carry on.
The bamboo is surprisingly tall, and the effect of the light filtering through the leaves creates a dreamlike setting. The forest is actually quite dim, and when the wind blows, the bamboo stalks knock together causing a hollow musical rustle to move throughout the expanse. At points, there is a raised boardwalk marking the path, and I felt very much like a character in a fairytale as we trotted along. It was fantastic, whimsical, and eerie all at the same time.
Eventually the Bamboo Forest faded and we found ourselves crawling across small streams on slippery rocks. Thanks to some nimble maneuvering, we made it to solid ground, and directly before us was the most splendid waterfall I have ever seen. And you know how much I like waterfalls. We were standing at the base of Waimoku Falls, which rose a spectacular 450 feet above us. The waterfall crashed down a sheer lava rock wall into a pool below, and we stood there in the spray, silent under the roaring water, necks craned, just appreciating the beauty of it all.
There had actually been a point during our hike where we considered turning back because daylight hours were dwindling and we didn’t want to make the treacherous drive back in the dark. We decided to forge ahead anyway, and at this moment, we agreed that it was utterly and totally worth it. It’s amazing to think that God created things like this for our pleasure, for us to enjoy, and as a reminder of His love for us. What a beautiful, indescribable gift to my soul.