Maui- Kipahulu Rain Forest
Today we drove three hours of the beautiful, treacherous winding Road to Hana out to Kipahulu to ride with Maui Stables. This is one of the most remote parts of the island. It is actually past Hana. The road itself runs along the coast with 600 and some curves.
We woke up at 5AM to make the three hour drive to Kipahulu. Along Hana Highway, we stopped to watch the waves crash on the cliffs and to take in the waterfalls and pools that dot this area of rainforest.
Keoni would be taking me out along with two other visitors. Keoni grew up in the area and has a deep connection to his Hawaiian heritage. He would serve as out Alaka’i or guide into the rainforest. Before riding, Keoni sang and prayed a traditional oli or call to his ancestors.
Maui Stables has about 42 horses, who have been trained by Keoni. No horse is bombproof, but his are pretty close. They are all great trail horses. They also can break out of the nose to tail thing and listen well.
Keoni rode Makani Hoolua, which means Mountain Wind. I rode a chestnut Quarter Horse Thoroughbred cross named Makani Kulupe, which means North Wind. Our whole crew had to ride on this trip, as we were venturing to land where no vehicles could travel. This is a true testament to how well behaved the horses are and how pristine the land is here.
We rode by several sacred sights on the way to the mountain trails that would take us up to higher elevations for our picnic lunch. Not that I would necessarily be hungry for lunch after munching my way through the forest.
We passed some wild cows, as Keoni reached up to grab me a mango off of a nearby tree. I had already tried and apple banana. Yes, for all of you banana lovers out there, they have various kinds of bananas on the islands here. The apple banana tastes, well, like an apple.
Keoni said that his ancestors lived off the land and the sea. I could see how people could still live this way, as we picked a star fruit.
The passion fruit was my favorite. I puckered a bit at its flavoring, as we rode through the wide forest trails. We had croissant sandwiches for lunch at a look out point. There was a massive waterfall in the distance. The setting was beautiful, but what made it even more special was being with Keoni, someone who loves the land and whose ties to its history remain strong.
Darley Newman is the host of the Emmy Award-winning Public Television series Equitrekking®, which takes viewers on horseback riding vacations around the world. Equitrekking is broadcast on PBS stations and on international networks in over 30 countries.
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