Maui Wowie

T and I spent 3 weeks on Maui, the Valley Isle, which is the 2nd largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Maui is known for long stretches of beautiful beaches and the landmark Haleakala Crater, the House of the Sun, which is a now dormant volcano (the only active volcano in the islands is on the big island, Hawaii). The summit depression is 21 miles across, and 4,000 feet deep, large enough to hold the island of Manhattan! Tom and I hiked to the top (Maui’s highest point) via the Crater Rim Trail, which is a 5 mile hike with 1,600ft gain in elevation.

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We stayed overnight at a total of 7 different places through couchsurfing, camping and AirBnB’ing spending only $1,254 total for  accomodations (which is proportionately much less than our rent in NYC) and nearly completed a circuit around the island. Each place offered uniquely pleasant experiences and surprises. A few of the highlights are the fresh pineapple waiting in the room for us when we arrived at the Tiny Cabin located in the quaint upcountry town of Makawao, enjoying Garrett & Crystal’s company in their beautiful home in Pukalani, meeting Jamie & her daughter, Kaya, who taught us how to properly open, drink and nom on a coconut and last, but not least, sharing a 2 bedroom condo with our ‘frainds’ Laci & John at the Grand Champions Resort in Wailea (more on that in another post!)

 T’s highlights & gratitude’s

The three miles of white sand and crystal clear water at Ka’anapali beach offered T & me a playground for acro & snorkeling as well as a canvas for our sand sculpture – the green sea turtle! People all along the beach hiked over to check it out – we were so proud :3.

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Sneaking into the Hyatt regency resort hot tub & dining at Mala Ocean tavern with Jon, a friend we made through paragliding and an amazing guy with tons of great ideas on how to make the world a better place.

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Exploring the Iao Valley, aka “cloud supreme”, a lush, stream-cut valley in West Maui where T picked passion fruit from the trees along the unofficial  hiking trail which crested the ridge, giving us spectacular views of the 1200-foot Iao Needle.

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The cerulean blue water of the many beaches, this short vid is from Big Beach….

#Sunset #Romantic #Maui

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and here’s Red Sand beach!

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R’s highlights & gratitude’s

Sunning, swimming & hot-tubbing at Grand Champions resort villa (our paragliding friend, Vin, broke his ribs (while mountain biking not flying) so he and his gf, Lauren, joined us for a few nights of hot-tubbin’ – so much good times).

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Hiking the waihou spring trail (moderate, 1.7 miles). Along the trail there were monterey cypress and eucalyptus trees, as well as the native tree species `ala`a, halapepe, and koa. The trail ended on a ridge top offering views of the Central Valley.

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Pineapple upside down cake at Hali’imaile & Pineapple wine tasting at Tedeschi Winery

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Visit to Paia, which is a reflection of Maui’s history as a booming sugar cane plantation town with its old plantation style wooden buildings still intact, T & I  stopped at Ono Gelato for their infamous (and very yummy) sandy beach gelato.

Taking the ‘Road to Hana’ which has 620 curves and 59 bridges, most of which are single-lane bridges – along which we played in the waterfalls, sniffed the tropical flowers, hiked through bamboo forests, and marveled at the spectacular scenery. Waimoku Falls, this gigantic waterfall drops 400-feet down a sheer lava rock wall into a boulder-strewn pool.

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We found a heart :3

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Hiking the Pipiwai trail (this name delighted T)

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We stayed overnight in Hana camping on the front lawn of a friendly yet ‘tuned out’ couch surfing host who nearly left us to sleep in our car on Thanksgiving.  Keeping the tent up in the rainstorm (and ignoring the creepy screaming noises that kept waking us up) proved to make the night spent camping there a bit of a harrowing experience (and probably the closest thing to a thorn that we experienced during the time period this post covers!). Thankfully, things worked out (sorta) and T & I had scrumptious shrimp for our T-giving dinner while enjoying live music and hula dancing.

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Camping on a Volcano

I don’t know about you, but one of my childhood dreams was to visit an active volcano. I was able to make that dream come true by camping in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park at Nāmakanipaio campground, where I not only visited an active volcano, but pitched my tent on one.  This park doesn’t offer white sand beaches and warm weather, but it does have, something you can’t find anywhere else,  spectacular views of the largest active volcano in the world.

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According to GoHawaii.com,  the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park encompasses 333,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the sea. Here you’ll find 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rainforests as well as a museum, petroglyphs, a walk-in lava tube and two active volcanoes: Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea which has been erupting since January 3rd, 1983. Geologists estimate it took nearly 1 million years to build Hawaii, from the first time lava punched through the Pacific Ocean seafloor to the island we see today.

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 T’s highlights & gratitude’s

Watching the red-orange lava glow at  of the Halema’uma’u crater (part of the Kilauea volcano) after sunset, a truly breathtaking sight. Because of safety issues the access to the crater is restricted, but we had a stunning overview of the crater at about 1 mile distance.

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Spotting large flightless Hawaiian Geese, aka Nene, which are endemic to Hawaii and the state’s official bird. Just for fun, T picked a nene berry, officiall called ‘Aiakanene, and ate it (with no ill effects).

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Going past the ‘safety’ rope to explore the sulfur vents.

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Hiking Devastation trail whose terrain went from volcanic to tropical so quickly it gave us whiplash.

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 R’s highlights & gratitude’s

Descending into the Kilauea Iki,  an old volcanic crater, the uncontested winner of the trip.  It was a profound experience and felt like entering the heart of the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess, Pele Honua Mea. Even after 50 years of inactivity, the surface of the crater is still warm to the touch. T & I saw the spectacular ‘heart of Pele’, found pieces of raw peridot & completed the moderate 4 mile hike (we lucked out, experiencing nearly no sulfur dioxide fumes).

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Taking the Hawaiian culture walk (which was not a kitchy as it sounds). Our tour guide and park ranger told us about the Native Hawaiian’s mythology and taught us Hawaiian words. My favorite of which being, ‘makawalu’ meaning literally ‘different perspectives’ – it’s a way of looking at situations through the lenses of everyone involved, rather than seeing if just your own perspective.

I was accepted into Antioch’s Clinical Psychology program (to become a licensed marriage and family therapist) in Santa Barbara! While this is wonderful news, I’ve decided to defer for (at least) a year. This is because I’d like to give myself an opportunity to find rewarding work in SB – if that fails, back to school I go!

Doing Crater Rim Drive, which is the 10.6-mile drive that circles Kilauea Caldera and offers spectacular views of the coast line.

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And the Thorn(s)

Learning about the many disasters which spawned from bringing (with the best intentions) outside wildlife into Hawaii, where they inevitably became invasive species. For example, in order to control the rat population (which had a taste for sugar cane, Hawaii’s cash crop) Small Asian Mongoose, called ‘Iole manakuke’, from Calcutta were introduced to the islands. So what’s the problem with mongooses? Well, they hunt during the day… and the rat is nocturnal. With no rats to hunt, mongoose developed a taste for birds (& especially bird eggs). Rats were already endangering native populations of ground nesting birds – rather than fixing this issue, bringing the mongoose only exasperated the problem. Ooops!

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If I were a more paranoid person, and thought mother nature was an actual entity, I would probably feel like her newest mission was to make my life miserable what with the sulfur dioxide clouds, altitude sickness, freezing temps & daily rain showers. Since I do not believe that, I have to concede to the fact that my genetic “gifts” are, in fact, to blame. Camping on an active volcano means we are putting ourselves in a little bit of a risky situation, as it is constantly spewing noxious fumes.

Only one can really kill you (sulfur dioxide), so T and I do our best to stay upwind of it. This is a relatively easy feat as the rangers monitor sulfur dioxide particulates in the air 24/7 and post it on a website for easy access. There is a threshold where it becomes dangerous for sensitive folks and a few notches up it becomes dangerous for everyone else. During a ranger led hike, I had to admit to the ranger that I fell into the former category (highly sensitive) and for the rest of the hike, fellow hikers approached me with what they thought of as sympathetic remarks. One older woman simply looked at me and said, “I read about people like you at the visitor center.” Oy vey.

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