For our 11 year anniversary my wife and I decided to go hiking somewhere on the Big Island. Cracking open the “Hawaii – The Big Island Trailblazer” book I found this hike that begins out of Waimea, so off we went.
The trailhead began with a locked gate and a lot of ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Do Not Enter’ signs, which we almost heeded, however, we came all this way! After a lot of “what do you want to do?” banter we hopped the fence and began our journey.
The trail began on a dirt road, winding through the forest. After a structure that looks like its purpose was to ready concrete we began following an irrigation ditch and the trail began to narrow. At this point the hike seemed manufactured, but then the trail began to stray from the manmade structure and into a bamboo forest. From here on in the trail begins to wind up and through the beautiful Kohala Forest Reserve. Ferns, native flowers, and mountain vistas made me stop repeatedly to take pictures. And then the wide path came to an end.
Standing inches away from the ledge, 2,000 feet above the head of Waipio Valley, my breath had been taken away. Across from us is an unobstructed view of Alakahi Falls, quiet from the lack of rainfall, which falls several tiers to make up the Waipio valley river below. We stood and took in the sight for a while before we hesitated to continue on the extremely narrow path along the cliff face toward the back of the Waipio lookout.
At first the path seems fine, but then continues to narrow and be covered by the over grown fauna. With the path only wide enough for me, clenching onto the branches of the plants giving me some sense of security, I took it all in. The view was awesome. We continued on navigating the slippery path until reality slipped in. “What the hell are we doing?” “We have kids waiting for us to come home.” Just to think that this was a perfectly good hike before the earthquake and now there are postings to not hike, that the trail along this cliff edge had been damaged, that there had been deaths… Had given us all the reason to not be thrill seekers any more and return to the lookout.
Back at home that evening I went online to find another hike out of Waimea that goes directly to the head of the Waipio lookout and the Bamboo Altar. Where, if wasn’t damaged, the skinny cliffside trail would have led us to. That will be the next hike we will do.
by Christopher Johnson – www.fromhereonin.com