Ten thousand feet – traveled vertically. Today started at the ocean and ended quite literally at the top of the world. We knew coming into this project that Hawaii holds some amazing natural beauty, but today we were lucky to experience sights that I don’t think you can find anywhere else on this earth – at least all in the same place.
As if nature knew what was in store for us, today started with an amazing sunrise, followed by a rainbow, a sign of good things to come. Our morning began with an early start and a trip to Kipahulu to see the seven sacred pools and Waihiumalu falls.
The hike to Waihiumalu falls took much longer than we expected, but the beauty of the landscape was beyond anything we could have imaged. The photo above is from the cliff of a smaller waterfall part of the way up the trail that had stopped flowing . The view from the edge defintely vertigo-inducing.
Naturally, I felt the need to get as close to that edge as possible to make some pictures. Thankfully our producer Matu has my back (quite literally in this case).
The next section of the trail was completely unexpected. After hiking for about a mile and a half, we entered a bamboo forest.
It was truly surreal and serenely beautiful.
Pressing on past the bamboo forest, the climate and ecosystem turned more tropical. We finally reached the end of our hike and came upon Waihiumalu falls – a four hundred tall waterfall. It was work the trip.
After seeing the falls, we began the two mile hike back, regretting the fact that we hadn’t packed any breakfast. Thankfully, only a few miles down the road, we stopped at Laulima Farms, an all-organic, vegetarian farm that sells smoothies, coffee and fresh fruit. It’s not quite that simple though, at Laulima Farms, they make you work for your smoothie – if you want it blended, you have to power the blender (in this case, it was my studio manager who did the blending for us).
Also, with it being Easter, we thought it would be appropriate to buy one of their specially decorated cookies. Yes, that is Jesus’s face on a chocolate chip cookie.
What followed breakfast was a drive on the Pilani highway. I know that a few days ago I wrote about us taking the road to Hana. Before driving it, we were warned that it was treacherous, full of blind corners and one lane crossings. Well, compared to the Pilani highway,Â the road to Hana was child’s play.
Crosses like this were not uncommon along the road, which was partially unpaved, mostly single-lane, and totally treacherous. Guardrails?Â No way. Falling rocks? Just a few. Not exactly the best road for a rental minivan, but it was a once in a lifetime experience, worth every clenched fist and white-knuckle turn.
The lack of pavement made for a pretty bumpy ride, but with views like that, it didn’t really matter.
The reason we were venturing out on the Pilani highway in the first place was to make it to the summit of Haleakala National Park, more specifically to see Haleakala crater, the mountainous volcano that created the island of Maui. To reach the summit, we had to travel 10,000 feet, literally above the clouds.
On the way to the summit, we passed through thousands of vertical feet of beautiful dense fog, literally traveling through the clouds above us when we started our day in Hana.
Part of the way to the summit, above the clouds looking out at the island of Maui and the ocean beyond. The landscape here had changed dramatically, but we had no idea how strange it would get.
A view from the summit of Haleakala, 10,023 feet above the sea level where we started the day. Between the red sands, chilling winds, and serious lack of oxygen, it really felt like we had departed from earth and ended up on an entirely different planet.
After the summit, we made it back down the volcano in time to catch an awesome sunset. I know this was a really long post, but there was just so much to share – I hope these words and pictures can begin to capture some of the amazing things I’ve been lucky enough to see today. Cheers.