Guest Blogger Danielle Lescure continues her Hawai’i Adventure in Part 2 of 6 series as she ventures over the Kohala Mountain Pass.
The best laid plans, as they say. But in Hawai’i, if Plan A goes awry, there’s always a Plan B to pursue!
As I mentioned in my first post, one of the reasons I’d chosen the Big Island was because I’m a nerd and the summit of Mauna Kea is nirvana for people like me being the site of eleven observatories. My hope had been to indulge in the inner workings of the observatories which are only open for tours once on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. That was the plan, at least.
Unfortunately, upon arriving at Saddle Road, the only route to the Mauna Kea entrance, I found it blocked by police. A brush fire had shut down the road. There would be no observatory visit today.
Fortunately, I’d already come up with a contingency plan in case I had time to travel elsewhere so I continued east and then north into Kohala to see Pololu Valley.
From where I was, to get to this uppermost northern part of the island required a trip over the Kohala Mountain Pass. This drive is breathtaking.
The twists and turns were reminiscent of navigating Mulholland Drive back in Los Angeles, including a couple of tailgaters who preferred traveling at speedier clips than I. The pass reaches an elevation of 3500 feet above sea level and offers a constantly changing vista. As it was a clear enough day, I even got a glimpse of majestic Maui on the horizon. The wind, however, is fierce up there. Trees are permanently bent over because of it. More than once I steadied myself against the guardrail to take pictures and even then a strong gust just about blew me over.
Reaching the bottom of the pass, I entered Hawi and followed the road which dead ends at Pololu Valley. Simply standing at the overlook was stunning, but after a stealth change into my bathing suit (note: always pack a change of clothes for potential changes in plans) I trekked down the trail to the beach. The water was rough and choppy but a few brave souls took to the sea for a swim, or an attempt at it.
There was a smile and “hello” from everyone you passed. I think we loved being in the midst of such a beautiful place and I’m sure I had a big, stupid “Hawai’i is awesome!” grin on my face as well. That friendliness extended to messages being passed down the beach to be careful as Portuguese Man ‘O War jellyfish were washing ashore. One woman told me that if they’re washing up their life cycle is complete and they’re harmless at that point. We both agreed we’d still prefer to stay on land and out of the water. Their carcasses certainly made for a feast for the locals. As soon as the jellies washed ashore, they disappeared. Tiny sand crabs would peek out from their holes, scramble to snap up the carnage, and skedaddle back to safety. If you blinked, you’d miss it.
I allowed the crashing waves and beautiful scenery to lull me into a trance for a time before heading back up the trail and toward Kona playing tourist one more time before the sun set by paying a visit to the Pu’ukohola Heiau. This temple was built by King Kamehameha upon being told by a prophet that if he built it he would then be able to unite all the Hawaiian islands and reign over them. And so it was built, and so he did indeed unite the islands, ruling as king until his death.
With many miles driven over several hours by the end of the day, I collapsed into bed that night with a greater appreciation of my surroundings. There’s a reason they call it the BIGIsland!
Danielle Lescure is a writer and singer in Los Angeles. You can find out more at DanielleLescure.com, tweet a hello @daniellelescure, or check out her blog at https://daniellelescure.