Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 15:24:11 -1000 From: Patrick Rorie
Subject: Final Day of the Waimanu Valley Trip - Return to Civilization
Awoke shortly before 6 a.m. on Monday morning (labor day, Sept. 6) to the sounds of backpackers shuffling by my tent. It was Kyle, Evelia and friends getting an early start to ensure that ALL of them would get to the airport on time to catch their flight back to Oahu. Emerged from my tent a few minutes later to an absolutely gorgeous morning (completely clear blue sky above with the massive sheer wall in back of the valley also cloud free, only three waterfalls flowing down it) and turned to watch the last of the HTM group cross Waimanu Stream via the row boat. I then grabbed my bag of honey nut cheerios, a can of Dr. Pepper and headed for the rocky beach. Witnessed a beautiful sun rise and took pleasure from the way the early morning sun light lit up the light green sheer sea cliff beyond the black sand beach while dining on "breakfast".
Half an hour later, when I noticed Mike out and about and Mark stirring inside his tent, I returned to campsite #3 to commence the arduous task (for me) of breaking down my tent and shoving everything into my backpack. During the procedure I couldn't help but take a final glance at the outstanding topographical features of Waimanu Valley that make it so special. Even though I started well before they did, Mark and Mike finished packing and forded Waimanu Stream aboard the "Sovereign Queen" as I secured my backpack for the return leg. Feeling rushed, I commented "Hey, what's the hurry?!" but I relaxed when I noticed Mark taking a quick dip in Waimanu Stream.
At 8:25 a.m. our threesome began the steep ascent out of Waimanu Valley via seven switchbacks. Mark and Mike led the way and I followed them after taking a photo of the classic coastal view featuring the mouth of Waimanu Stream with the light green sheer sea cliff in the background (take a look at the top photo on the last page of the first group of photos in Ball's "Backpackers Guide To Hawai'i"). The .9 mile climb took about an hour to complete. I stopped frequently not only to rest but mainly to memorize the beauty that I was reluctantly departing (Waiilikahi Falls, the massive sheer wall in back of the valley, the black sand beach, the light green sheer sea cliff, Waimanu Bay and the two peninsulas along the coast - Laupahoehoeiki and Laupahoehoenui). Its been a memorable trip if you have a hard time leaving.
A few minutes past 10 a.m. we reached the rundown shelter, 2.25 miles out of the valley, and paused for a breather. Further ahead at a small hunter rest area, Mark and I recognized the island of Maui in the distance across the Pacific Ocean to the northwest and a Hawaiian hawk gliding effortlessly through the air. At 11:05 a.m. the three of us passed Kyle's group off to the side of the trail in a stand of ironwoods fronting a few Norfolk Island pines. Before commencing the steep descent to the floor of Waipio Valley, I met Peter Caldwell's paddling buddy Randy. The final tough (dare I say grueling?) climb to the Waipio Valley lookout parking area required twenty three minutes for Mark and I to accomplish (slightly longer for Mike). Almost immediately at approx. 2:05 p.m., Mark made a phone call to his wife informing her that we had safely completed the trek. I retrieved the rental car from Waipio Artworks and our party drove away from the lookout at 2:45 p.m.
At 4 p.m. we arrived in Hilo and headed for "Maui Taco" for some ono grinds. After gorging ourselves (actually, only Mark and Mike ate), we proceeded to the Hilo Airport where I dropped my two compadres off to try their luck at snagging two standby seats. Instead of attempting to do the same, I decided to keep my 8 p.m. flight and cruise around in the rental car.
The first stop was in the Hilo neighborhood where I had stayed with friends on Friday night. As a small token of my appreciation I left them my barely used bottle of propane. From Hilo I traveled to Volcano to check out the Namakani Paio Campground for possible use on a future trip. Overcast skies prevailed and rain fell in route to the campground. Once the scouting excursion concluded, I backtracked to Hilo, dropped off the rental car, and boarded the last plane to Oahu. Much to my surprise, Kyle, Evelia and friends were also on the same flight. Turns out that someone locked the keys to their rental van inside the vehicle and they barely made it to Hilo in time to catch the final flight!
We touched down at the Honolulu International Airport prior to 9 p.m. and although bummed about having to go back to work the next morning, I would always cherish the wonderful memories of my brief visit to Waimanu Valley.
Notes: I forgot to include the following quote from Ball in the second installment of this three part series "There are lots of other possibilities for today. Sunbathe on the black sand beach. Explore along the coast to Laupahoehoeiki or Laupahoehoenui. Go swimming in the ocean and then rinse off in Waimanu Stream. Perhaps the most attractive activity, especially in the afternoon, is doing absolutely nothing. Find a comfortable spot and kick back. Take in the broad sweep of the bay and its towering sea cliffs. Watch the surf pound the black rocks and roll up the beach. Listen for the wind soughing through the ironwoods. This is life."*
* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1996.