23 May Winding Roads, and Jungles, and Waterfalls, Oh My!
Where to start with this post… Well, let’s start with the background story. Last December, I traveled to Maui to photograph a wedding over there. I made the most of out the trip and booked my stay for a week, giving me a couple days of prep for the wedding, then the wedding, and a couple days of pure relaxation on the island after the wedding craziness. These last few days left us seeking fun island activities, and being the adventurous group that we were, we decided on a jungle hike. Now… This hike was located on the eastern tip of the island, we were staying on the west end, so a road trip was in order. For an island, Maui is quite diverse due to the mountains at the center of the islands. Believe it or not, these mountains were large enough to create very extreme differences in climate and landscape on opposite sides of the mountain. It was like experiencing Washington State, but instead of having to drive hundreds of miles, you only had to drive 30 to go from luscious greenery to brown desert landscapes.
I would think there may be dryer parts of the island than others, but nothing like this…
Pretty extreme, right?! It’s gonna seem ever more contrasted when you get a look at all of the jungle photos coming up. Notice the fine roadway, literally the whole thing is made of new and old patches. It was too a point that it looked almost like an old cobblestone road. The drive itself was another ridiculousness of the trip that can not be explained, unfortunately it has to be experienced to understand. Believe me, when I tell you, “it was the worst drive I have ever been on,” I can’t be more sincere. It’s called “the road to Hana” by the locals (Hana being the closest town to where we were headed for our jungle hike), but I think it is more accurately described as “the never-ending, life-threatening, nauseating, exhausting, day-long road to Hana.” If you think this is a “normal” road, you need to go to the doctor and get your head checked. I love me some fun curvy roads, as they are a blast on my sport bike, but this road really does deserve the title of ‘insane.’ I could write pages about the drive itself, but I’ll leave it at that. If you visit Maui, think twice, no… think four or fives times before deciding to make the journey to Hana. Also make sure you have a well-constructed final will and testament in order, cause there were a couple times that timing with on-coming traffic would have spelt disaster if we had been just a second further up the road. Let’s just say that the pucker factor engaged itself more than once for everyone in the car during the drive.
Let’s get to the fun leg of the trip, the reason I’m writing this post, and the part that produce some really great photos. Three hours later, we arrived at the base of the hiking trail, and I was extremely surprised to see how many people were in the parking lot. My sole thought, “holy shit, how did all these people make it here in one piece?!”
I snagged my camera and we were off to the trail. All I was armed with was my 5DmkII, mounted with a 1.4 50mm lens. A light, simple, fun lens, so my shots would be limited, but I didn’t want to pack a bag with more lenses. I compromised for a simple setup and a smaller variety of shots so that I could enjoy the hike. My larger lenses would double my camera weight to 6-7 pounds. I’m really glad I went with the 50mm lens cause it is also super fast, which really came in handy, as the bamboo forest was surprisingly dark even in the middle of the day.
Living in the PNW, I’m used to greenery, trees, hiking trails, etc., but this place was something else. The vegetation was so thick and green and everywhere. It was almost like plants were growing on top of other plants. I’m sure if I stood still long enough I’d have plant-life taking-root on me. The air was super humid, like I was half walking and half swimming through it. I couldn’t tell you if I was sweating or it was condensation forming on my skin, and I didn’t care, this place was pretty amazing.
The trail took on many forms along the way. The best way I could explain it is that it went in stages. Different trees and plants for a few hundred yards, then it would switch-up to another variety and size of greenery. And then we saw it, the opening to the…
A mountain of bamboo ahead, with one small entry point on the other side of the bridge. It was like something out of a pixar movie. It didn’t seem real, we laughed at the fact it WAS real. This marked the beginning of the bamboo forest we would be making our way through, with the end of the trail being an extremely tall waterfall.
The bamboo was SO thick. You can see in the photos of the trail, not a lot of light was getting through. You were forced down the trail, as you had no option of veering off course, the bamboo grew so close together that you couldn’t squeeze between the stalks, and was to the point where you couldn’t even see more that 15-20 feet into the forest because it overlapped in the background. The trail was very well-maintained, with board walkways constructed in the boggy areas of the trail.
The bamboo went on forever. Call me stupid, but I had no idea bamboo grew like this, and that kind of quantity. It was such a sight to see. As we hiked on, we eventually popped out of the bamboo and back into more of a jungle-type landscape. And we got really luck with some sun rays…
Which leads us to our final destination on the trail, the waterfall. A few smaller falls along the hike, but this guy was a monster. I can’t tell you how tall it was, but lets just say I would have needed a really wide lens to try and capture it all in one shot. It fell into a pool where we refreshed ourselves in the water after the long hike out there.
We then had the pleasure of experiencing it all again in the reverse order as we made our way back. It was a really fun experience (minus the road trip out to the hike location), and I feel so lucky that I got the chance to do it.
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