Don’t Go Chasin’ Waterfalls…Pt. 1

Actually, this entire post is the opposite of that warning in the title.

Because on a recent adventure to Hawaii, that’s exactly what I did.

I haven’t updated this blog in a criminally long period of time, so I better get on this before I forget all of the minutia that went in to this once-in-a-lifetime trek. I’ll write more about my trip as a whole at some later date–for now, here is the most life-altering experience I’ve had.

Brace yourselves.

I went to Hawaii to visit one of my dearest friends from college, who also happens to be my sorority sister. STOP. I know what you’re thinking with me using the “s” word, but it wasn’t anything like you see in the movies or the media. Well…it is a tiny bit. But put a gaggle of women in any small room and there’s bound to be some cattiness.

ANYWAY, I digress.

K and her husband, A, were nice enough to put up with me for almost a week. Understandably, a few of those days K had to work so A was tasked with taking me on a hike through the tropical Hawaiian rainforest.

Now, before I take you on this journey with me, keep in mind that I’m more of an ‘indoor girl’ than a ‘nature girl’. The last bit of hiking I did before this trip was as a pre-teen in Girl Scouts. I’m a bit sissified, by anyone’s standards, and hadn’t adequately trained for this kind of recreational activity. Furthermore, whoever considers this recreation, and not hard/backbreaking work, is a bit loopy.

Next, throw in the fact that is a well-trained, well-seasoned Marine and I’ve just signed up for a doozy of a hike.

A drove me along some scenic backroads to get to Maunawili Falls. Hawaiian forest surrounded us as we chugged through canopies of branches and drove through one lane, two way streets.

A map of our trail

A map of our trail

We parked on a side street in front of a barricade that blocked cars from driving on to the trails. Signs of the previous day’s rainfall were evident as soon as we approached the ankle deep mud that was to be our path along the entire route.

‘What have I done what was I thinking how will I survive,’ ticker-taped across my mind as my sneakers squelched with each step.

I followed closely behind A and tried to carefully place my feet exactly where his had been to reduce my chances of slipping, to no avail. We were on the trail barely five minutes when I had my first wipeout. The entire left side of my body was covered in mud and my hand tingled from where I made contact with the ground.

“Are you ok?” asked with concern.

Through my hysterical laughter I managed to assure him that I was fine and got back to my feet. Falling down in the mud was oddly freeing. I didn’t have to worry about keeping my clothes clean anymore and once I realized that no bones were broken, I wasn’t afraid to wipeout again. Some of the other people around us seemed to be terrified of getting a little dirty. But what’s a bunch of mud to a hardened explorer like myself?

“Besides,” continued as we trudged along, “mud is one of nature’s best mosquito repellants.”

He wasn’t lying, either, because I only had one bite on my body when we left. But, back to the story.

We edged through the narrow trail when we came upon a giant tree trunk strewn across our path. There was a way to walk around it but turned to me and said, “It’s your first trip to the falls–you need to climb over it to be initiated.”

Not one to back down from a challenge, I quickly scurried over the gargantuan tree as if I’d just graduated from Squirrel Training School. “Hells, yes,” I thought to myself, I am making this hike my biotch!

Not long after, I wiped out for a second time. Cue: peals of hysterical laughter. Happy as a pig in mud, ladies and gentleman. (I’m done with the animal analogies for the rest of the post, I promise).

We encountered tress so tall and thick with roots so large that we guessed they must have been growing for hundreds of years. We crossed a picturesque brook and I marveled at how replenishing it felt streaming through my shoes. I was so happy to be crossing that stream and feeling like a real-life Indiana Jones (minus the artifacts, destruction of ancient ruins, and bad guys with guns).

On the other side of that creek, though, stood some of the steepest, longest, most intimidating, staircases of steel and mud steps that I’ve ever seen in my entire 25 years of life. The following was just the beginning of the ascent and doesn’t do it’s steeper brethren any justice.

maunawili-falls

A baby staircase

Did I mention that I was hiking with a member of the US Marine Corps?

DID I?!

Because I was.

Hiking.

With a Marine.

Screw all the trainers in Los Angeles, you haven’t had a workout until you’ve climbed never-ending staircases made of dirt and metal with a member of America’s finest. I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a very competitive person–I had no intention of beating to the waterfalls, but I wasn’t going to fall behind, either.

About a bazillion stairs later, more winding mud filled paths, a couple more close-call-wipeouts, and we’ve made it to our destination.

And MY GOSH.

Maunawili_Falls_by_X5_442

That picture can’t do it justice. My breath fled my lungs when I set sights on that little beauty. Since it’d just rained the day before, the water wasn’t as murky as it looks, either.

“We’re not done yet,” informed me. “We’ve still got to climb up the fall to the left there and keep going to a second fall on top.”

Short and Feisty is afraid of heights. Noting her competitive streak, what do you think she did?

TO BE CONTINUED!

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