Wanting a bit of distraction from the usual Kapalua hike along the ocean that had become our daily routine, we ventured north a bit round the bend past Honolua Bay into the pristine and seldom traveled area of the West Maui mountain.
Here, the narrow road with its many switch-backs and sharp turns challenges drivers to keep their eyes on the road while being tempted by stunning ocean views from every direction. We’d driven this road before all the way to the valley. There were times when I had to clutch the armrest and close my eyes (no, I wasn‘t driving!), especially when we came upon blind hairpin turns with single lane passage. Meeting another car round the bend meant that the downhill car was obligated to back up...unto what? The sheer drops were sometimes over 1,200 feet down into a churning brine.
We were promised the hike would not be a difficult as the drive beyond the blowhole. Luckily, we arrived at the designated point past the 38 mile marker where a small (and on this day empty) parking lot signaled the start of the hike. The most hair-raising portion of the road lies beyond this point, should you be so adventurous to attempt a drive. (If you do, by the way, the pay off is some of the most outstanding views you’ll encounter this side of Hana.)
Our informants had advised we follow the "jeep trail" left in the red dirt that meandered across the light beacon point and stopped just shy of the rocky climb down to the shore and the Nakalele Blowhole. We sighted the light beacon and headed in that direction. "I think the jeep trail’s over there," I called to my husband as he made his way toward the precarious rock cliffs lining the water’s edge. He motioned me toward the path less traveled.
I wore walking shoes but soon wished I’d had on mountain boots when a stone that appeared to be secure slipped from under foot and bounced merrily off lava rocks on its way far below me and into the waves. The loose gravel beneath my feet also started to give way and I grabbed for a root, that prompted released as easily as the stone from the ground. "This can’t be right!" I protested and shimmied my way across the narrow ledge.
Find out the results of the cliff hanger in Part Two!!