The plan for our last full day on Maui was to hike the Waihe'e Ridge Trail with Jenny. Jenny had been trying to get me to go hiking for a while, and I was looking forward to doing something together even though I was a little nervous about keeping up with her. I hadn’t been exercising much lately and was definitely not in my best shape.
Waihe'e Ridge Trail was on the northwest side of the island, off of a winding road just past Mendes Ranch where we had taken the horseback riding tour in 1999. It was a two-and-a-half mile trail, beginning at 1000 feet and ascending to Lanilili Peak at 2563 feet. We got to the trailhead around 9 o’clock and started up. It didn’t take long for me to realize that being out of shape was not my problem. My problem was that I’m a klutz and have an intense fear of falling, particularly falling off cliffs. :-)
The hike started simple enough, a somewhat steep walk up a concrete path. But once we got into the woods, it was all slippery mud and tree roots. Jenny warned us, “There will be falling. Just accept it.” Sure enough, I quickly slipped and fell on my side with my foot stuck under a tree root, covering myself with mud. Well, at least I’d gotten that out of the way! Fortunately, Ron saved the day and broke off several large branches for us to use as walking sticks, which made the going much more manageable.
Once we got past the muddy woods, we were rewarded with a view of Makamaka’ole Falls, cascading 300 feet down into the valley. Then we rounded a few more curves and I literally gasped, it was so beautiful. We were looking down into a lush, ridged valley with views of Maui’s north shore and Haleakala on one side and the rushing stream of Waihe'e Gorge below. I have to say that God does some amazing work. It was truly breathtaking.
As we climbed higher, the plants became more tropical and the trail was bordered with ferns and huge green ti plants. Then the path narrowed, with steep cliffs falling off first on one side then the other, and I started getting really scared. Actually, I have not been that scared since we took the bike ride down Haleakala on our first trip to Maui. But then, I’d been able to pull off to the side of the road and ride the rest of the way back down in a van. There was no van here, and each step forward meant a step I had to take back down. We got to an area where the path went around a turn with cliffs on three sides, and I couldn’t take another step. I just sat down on a rock in a panic. How was I ever going to get back down??? I pictured myself being stuck there until a hovercraft came and plucked me off the mountain, Hunger Games style. Jenny and Ron sat down next to me, telling me to just take one step at a time and not think too far ahead. Ron said we could go back now, if I wanted, he really wouldn’t mind. But I pulled myself together and we went on a little farther until we got to a ridge with steep steps leading up to the peak. Then I’d had enough and we decided to turn around. The clouds were starting to look ominous anyway.
Getting back to the bottom turned out to be not nearly as hard and scary as I’d been dreading it would be. Part way down it started to rain, and while I’m normally not a fan of walking in the rain, the rain felt wonderfully clean and cool. We took a break at the waterfall overlook to eat some sandwiches and refill our water bottles. Then we moved down into the woods, where the mud had turned into thick chocolate pudding. There was a lot of slipping and sliding but we all managed to stay (mostly) upright. Someone on their way up the trail asked us how far we had gotten and Ron said, “We turned around at the scary part.” And that was when I realized that Ron had been scared too. Why didn’t he say so sooner?? I guess we’ve now established that Ron and I belong on the ocean, not in the mountains. :-) But I sure felt like I’d accomplished something when we made it back to the parking lot! And I’d gotten to see some really spectacular views too.
That night we had dinner at Sanei Seafood and Sushi Restaurant in Kihei. We ate there last year and Ron had been talking about their miso butterfish ever since. We shared several plates of butterfish and a little bit of everything else until we were all stuffed. Back at the condo, Ron and I took a walk on the Wailea Coastal Trail to catch the end of the sunset. It would probably be the last sunset we’d ever see in Maui, which made me feel kind of sad. There would be other beautiful sunsets in other beautiful places, but I would miss Maui.
Friday – Getting Home
We didn’t have to leave for the airport until 10:30, which gave us just enough time to explore one more beach. We decided on Big Beach in Makena. Big Beach was a gorgeous beach, wide and almost two-thirds of a mile long. Since it was still early, we had it mostly to ourselves. We walked from one end to the other, soaking in the views of Kaho’olawe and Molokini and the waves crashing on the yellow sand. We saw a local make a pretty impressive wipeout on his boogie board. Pretty soon it was time to get back to the condo to finish packing.
At 10:30 when we were ready to head out the door to the airport, I checked our flight status one more time. What?? Our flight was delayed an hour and a half! That meant we would miss our connection in Phoenix. Why did this keep happening? Jeremy had just walked in the door from a round of golf with his friend Paul, who had arrived the night before from Chicago, and he immediately got on the phone with American Airlines and managed to get us on another flight later that afternoon. Bonus Maui time! The five of us – Jenny, Jeremy, Paul, Ron and I – went to lunch at Tommy Bahama at the Shops at Wailea, where I took advantage of the unexpected opportunity to have one more plate of ahi poke. On our way back to the car, we stopped in the Mele Ukulele shop where Jenny picked up a beautiful little ukulele and started playing Iz’s version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” Sold! That ukulele was going home with her. :-)
When we finally got to the airport, we waited at the gate for our seat assignments along with several other people who had been on the delayed Phoenix flight. That’s when we found out that the plane was oversold. Argh! Why did they rebook us on a plane with no seats?? There was nothing we could do but hope that someone would volunteer to take a later flight. When it was almost time to start boarding, the gate agent called our names and handed us boarding passes. Thank you, volunteers! As our plane started to taxi, a rainbow appeared right beside the runway, and then I knew we were going to get home without any more problems. And we did.
A huge thank you to Jenny and Jeremy for the gift of Maui and for all you did to make it a wonderful last trip. Mahalo nui loa!
Where We Ate
Mama’s Fish House
Coconut’s Fish Café
Maui Brewing Company
Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar