“Waipi’o” means “curved water,” and this can be seen in the concave shoreline and the arcing twin waterfalls visible from the beach nearly a thousand feet below the viewpoint.  Images primarily feature the lofty view.  Most don’t dare brave the 25% grade, 4-wheel-drive-only road down to the bottom, but we aren’t “most people.”

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Give this crazy group a clear path to adventure, and we’re all over it.  We parked the car at the top and began the descent straight down.  This road is not for the weak-of-knees.  More than once, I imagined how one small trip could send me tumbling all the way to the bottom (though the road was thoroughly grooved for adequate traction).  And I didn’t fail to realize that every step I took with gravity’s assistance would be three grueling, huffing shuffles against it on the way back up.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

The road forked at the bottom of this massive incline, and I quickly learned I should have brought the mozzie (or “mosquito,” for those who didn’t live two years in Australia) spray.  They barely touched Aaron as we waited for the rest of our group to join us and provide direction, but I seem to have blood made of honey.  Let’s just say I was glad I didn’t decide to wear one of my summer dresses that day.  Surprisingly, I didn’t notice them on the way down, and I soon discovered why they preferred the bottom of the trail.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Back on track (go right – toward the ocean), I couldn’t book it fast enough.  The pavement gave way to mud, saturated with large stagnant puddles around which we carefully navigated.  I lamented leaving the hiking boots back at the house; there were several close calls where I nearly had muddy socks through my torn sneakers.  Irritation mounted when we had to step aside and wait for another beat-up pickup to pass, for every time I slowed, I was once more made the main course of the blood-suckers’ feast.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

We breached the beach in record time, and though the beautiful, fine black sand was tucked just enough inland to escape the last rays of sunset, the sky was still awash in an array of warm hues.  We snapped what we could of the waterfalls and sunset, but darkness descended quickly, and we didn’t care to navigate the swamp-road in the dark.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

After nightfall, the jungle-like forest comes alive.  I was simply blown away by the cacophony of sound all around us.  I was a bit nervous not knowing what might be lurking beyond the dark leaves, but I was fascinated just listening to the nocturnal concert.

The mozzies had abated significantly by this point, so our trek back to the road wasn’t nearly as miserable.  Instead, our misery awaited us at the pavement.

Up and up, and up, and …. up.

We were huffing and puffing before long as we ascended the 0.6 miles up 800 feet – the steepest road of its length in the nation, if not the world.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

About 2/3 of the way up, a truck passed us and asked if we wanted a ride.  I almost said no – determined to do it on my own – but our friend accepted, so we hopped into the bed and held onto the railing.  The breeze felt great, looking over the cab, and I laughed at the guy’s dog who ran right next to us the entire way – never tiring and never slowing (and the truck was cooking).  Apparently the dog does this run up and down the hill twice a day.. impressive!

We passed the rest of our group who were just ahead.  Needless to say, we got some nasty looks…

We felt bad, so we got our car and went back down to pick them up.  They were nearly to the top anyway, but they were glad for the ride.. except one brave soul who elected to see it to the end.  I feel a tad guilty that I bowed out, but I think I got enough adventure for one day.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

It was a solid start to our time on the island.  Little did I know it would only set the pace for the rest of the week.  I like these folks; they vacation as hard as we do!


 

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