Posts Tagged ‘dangerous Haleakala hike’

And Back…

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I found a service to fix my little issue I’ve spent two full days panicking about, and with any luck their team of “ninjas” (as the guy called them) will get this fixed up today.

That stated, get comfy and gather round the campfire, ‘cause it’s story time, kids.

When last we left off, I had spent a cold night sleeping on a diner booth in a fishbowl of a cabin on Helleakalā, one of two shield volcanoes that make up Maui. The other is the much-eroded West Maui Mountains, which contains the equally beautiful (but in a totally opposite, lush way) and equally dangerous, if you believe the folklore and ghost stories, Iao Valley.

Anyway, check out time is noon, and by 11am we’d had enough of the bursting through the doors and half asking/half demanding “can I come in and stare at you awkwardly in your pajamas?” parade of hikers, so we started back. My ankle, as I mentioned, was twisted because I am an idiot, and for all their curiosity and vigor, none of the hikers had an Ace bandage. Since the walk itself is on wobbly lava rocks and slippery surfaces, I was worried about re-twisting it, so we secured it as best we could with orange marking ribbon (that fluorescent stuff you use to mark trees) and duct tape: very professional looking.

It was raining lightly when we started…and it only got worse with each step. I was wearing a good Marmot raincoat on top and yoga pants on the bottom. About 15 minutes in and I was deeply regretting the now-20-pound yoga pants as they were DRENCHED. And by drenched I mean water was actually dripping from them and into my boots as they could hold no more DRENCHED.

We started out quietly with the occasional “this sucks” muttered between us. As the sky darkened and the rains worsened, I found myself pleading – by name and out loud – with Pele. Being the goddess of fire, lightening, wind, and volcanoes, I figured we were dabbling in a solid 75% of her territory. Who knew? Perhaps a giant fire would lie ahead as well? At the rate we were going, it wouldn’t have surprised me.

In response to my pleas, and in sharp contrast to my miraculous losing my eyeglasses story, Pele did zilch. Well, maybe not zilch, as another half an hour later found me hallucinating that the sun was out. This scared the crap out of my fellow traveler, especially because to my left was a sheer cliff edge and the day was dark and foreboding, yet I would exclaim, “Yay! The sun!” every fifteen minutes. It was the weirdest thing ever, and it went on throughout the whole hike, but it would honestly look to me like the sun had come out and the day was now bright. Go figure.

Sadly, this was no more than a mirage of my mind, and as my eyes adjusted and I realized that I was hallucinating, I also suddenly caught a glimpse of the HORRIFYING scene that is that hike.

twisted ankle duct tape


I am not a daredevil. I don’t jump out of planes or snowboard or even jet ski. I rarely, if ever, take my life in my own hands if I can help it, but this hike forced me into just that. As I was slowly realizing this, I was also getting extremely terrified. Much of the trail finds you on a two-foot wide area of (what was now) quick moving water and slippery mud. To the right of you is the volcano and to the left is a drop of a couple thousand feet. Slip to the left and you won’t ever be coming down off the mountain unless it’s in a body bag.

I don’t think this would be “so” bad on a sunny day, but as the four miles dragged on and on, the water started to rush down the path at us like a small waterfall. I honestly began wondering if this could turn into an extreme emergency situation when, Yay! The sun came out! But it didn’t really, and once I realized that, I also knew there was no real choice but to keep putting one wobbly foot in front of the other and hope for the best.

Obviously I’m alive and writing this post, so safe to say that two and a half hours later we made it to the car. Another hour and a half later we were back in sunny Kihei. The diversity on this island never ceases to amaze me.

Admittedly, I won’t be rushing up there again anytime soon, but my memory is just bad enough and my general personality just insane enough, that I wouldn’t rule out an encore visit some day. Next time, however, I’m staying at one of the other, more remote, cabins and bringing an Ace bandage and some newspaper to cover the windows. And maybe thinking twice if the weather starts off as foreboding as it did this time…

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