Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ka Lae- Through the Looking Glass

Up before dawn as steam flickers from the kettle, adding to the early morning ambiance through blurry eyes.

We drove into the fading darkness through coffee country down the winding road to Ka Lae- South Point. Every time I drive by this part of the island I nearly drive off the road from peering over the cliffs, looking for a way to get down to the ocean. The surrounding land is private so that basically eliminates getting to the coast by land. What better way to explore the rugged coast than by way of sea. The turbulent water off the point is the place where winds and currents converge making the ocean come alive! We planned on paddling to Wai’ahukini a white sand beach about a mile and a half away along the cliffs.

I had my lay down paddle board and my friend Patrick was on his stand up board.
With the winds whipping I somehow managed to scamper down the cliff holding on to my 14ft board without disaster.

Getting into the water was a little tricky; we had to time when a wave was coming and just jump and go for it. I made it into the clear water unscathed. Patrick was not as lucky, being hit by a breaking wave and thrown back into a rock. He didn’t know it then but one of his fins was knocked out.

The sun weaved webs of light that appeared to hang from the jagged cliffs as we paddled along with the wind on our backs. Going with the wind, we made it to the desolate windswept beach in no time.It was hard to find an opening amongst the jagged lava rock and breaking waves, trying to make it onto shore. Again we had to just go for it and hope for the best. We both made it in without hitting any rocks and marveled at the surrounding landscape of giant sand dunes, colorful cliffs, vibrant blue ocean, and Mauna Loa sitting quietly in the distance.

I had heard that there are a few surf spots near but access was extremely difficult by land. The big limiting factor is the near vertical cliff face that must be scaled in order to reach the ocean. I saw the rope dangling down and wondered how anyone could make it down with a board. We walked along the beach like shipwrecked wanderers over white and dark green sand beaches towards the old village of Ka'iliki'i. Once a thriving fishing village until the lava flow of 1868, Ka'iliki'i is now just a name almost forgotten by time.
The small bay formed by the flow created a surf break that breaks when the stars are aligned. This day the waves were gentle and rolling. Smooth stone lined the shallow bottom making it fun for bodysurfing.

Rock wall ruins stood as symbols of the old village. The ruins created a feeling that was eerie, calm, and quiet but somehow peaceful at the same time.
Hoping over the jagged lava rock trail, we kept moving forward in awe of the surroundings and losing track of time.

When we turned around we were shocked to see the cliff where we started way off on the horizon. The giant cinder cone of Pu’u Hou towered in front and seemed to be rising from the sea. We kept walking towards it and found that unreal black sand beaches were at the base of the cinder cone.

The first thing I want to do when I see a pristine beach with no footprints is run as fast as I can along the waters edge, hooting and rolling around in the sand. Yes I did all of that! My footprints will be washed away for the next fortunate person who marvels at the place where the soft black sand meets with the cliffs and ocean.

When we made it back to the lone tree which we left our boards under and Patrick realized one of his fins was missing. As I started to laugh, a gust of wind sent my giant board tumbling down the beach like an inflatable raft. I chased it down the beach and watched in horror as it banged into sharp rock after rock. Yes there are many new dings and scrapes on my board but it’s hard not to laugh at such a thing. The paddle back into the now heavy wind was not was easy. I was laughing like a lunatic as my board went up and down in the chop, with the wind blowing a salty spray into my face. Patrick was like a sail trying to stand up and paddle hid board into the wind. He was forced to lie down and paddle the way back. An amazing day of exploring remote beaches and paddling through rugged and raw waters, feeling the heartbeat of the Ocean.

Seeing dreams in the reflections

1 comment:

john doe said...

Billy: I came across your fascinating post while trying to find info on accessing Wai'ahukini and Pu`u Hou. I have heard of a surfers access with a rope dropping off the pali as you describe (so one doesn't have to go by sea from South Point) but where to access that? Any beta you can provide would be appreciated. Many thanks from Seattle.