Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kaupo and Pi'ilanihale Heiau

My intention was to go out to Nu'u and beyond—to the coconut grove where Kekaulike lived. Sahlins and Kirch claim that whole area—from Nu’u to Kaupo--was the largest sweet potato growing area in the islands because of the soil from the alluvial fan spread down the mountainside from the Kaupo Gap. I had thoroughly intended to explore the area--and actually got out of the car and took some photos at one point, but I ended up getting back in the car and continuing.  The road to Hana winds around the
coastline--very narrow in some places with signs that say "Honk" before you venture around a sharp corner/boulder and run smack into an oncoming vehicle.

I stopped on the bridge for a picture of the waterfall--surprised when I later realized it was the only waterfall I was to really see all day. When I mentioned it, I heard that there has been a drought and that the usual waterfalls all along the windward coast of Maui were barely trickling.  

I stopped to eat my egg salad sandwich at Waianapanapa State Park but I didn't even get out of the car--something kept pressing me to go on down the road.  I passed the sign for Kahanu Botanical Gardens and said, "Hey! That's where Pi'ilanihale Heiau is!"  And I turned around. I drove down the road, not stopping at the lava tube but going straight to the gardens.  I got out of the car to pay and ended up chatting with the nice lady. Finally she said, "You'd better get going."

I drove down the cement trail to where the cars park and was taking my time strolling through the gardens--looking at the red sugar cane--wondering how and when I was going to see the heiau. I looked up and actually had one of those "Oh My God!" moments. That rock structure is enormous! In my travels I've not seen anything like it--I've seen heiaus that have been reconstructed--Puukohala comes to mind--up there on the side of the hill at Kawaihae--that has been rebuilt with the help of the National Park Service. Although grand, it does not compare to Pi'ilanihale--which has stayed and has been cared for by the Pi'ilani family. 

I wanted to see if I could get the whole length of the structure in one picture and walked out to the lawn, but even then it was not possible. 

The clouds were rolling off the slopes of Haleakala, creating dazzling back-lighting opportunities. I could almost hear the pahus, almost feel the ground shake the closer I got to the heiau. I could imagine cloaked chiefs coming to the edge and peering down at me. The air was still--almost like the rocks absorb the noise--and yet it felt like the drums and chanting had just stopped and the air was still vibrating.
I peered into the canoe shed, took one last look at the heiau and felt a strong hand in my back, pushing me toward the car. 

          The rays from between the grey clouds made picture taking a challenge. I kept shielding the lens with my left hand. Finally the spirits moved my hand so I could get the shot they wanted me to take.

I literally had shut the car door and the rain beat down on the roof and windshield--the gods had been waiting for me to get in our of the rain and turned on the faucet the moment I was safe. I laughed out loud--and thanked them for keeping me dry. The rain was pounding down so hard I could barely see the cement path--rain like I've only seen a few times before--a wall of water--like standing behind the waterfall.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pohaku Ka Luahine

A beautiful summer morning on the hike up Moanalua trail in Kamana Nui Valley.  There is a little park at the trailhead.  Pueo-hulu-nui is where the owls of Kauai and Niihau gathered. 

This fireplace is on the left side of the road, just a little way up the hill. Nothing remains of the Douglas Damon house site except the fireplace and a small stone table.

There are several stream and bridge crossings on the way up the valley.  The Hawaiians said this pool had healing qualities and came here to bathe when they were recuperating from an illness.

These guardian rocks mark the way along the path. There are more guardian rocks near the actual stone.  Along the way I heard humming--an industrial sound. Since I was away from civilization, I couldn't figure out what I was hearing. On the way back, I noticed the power wires strung across the valley. The noise was coming from the wind in the wires. 

The name Pohaku Ka Luahine means Stone of the Old Woman. One tale told about this rock is that a child cried one night when a kapu was on at the heiau at the mouth of the valley. The consequence of anyone making noise during a ceremony was death. The child’s grandmother grabbed the infant and ran up the valley to the area called Kahukomo and hid behind the rock. Warriors searched for the woman and child but did not find them. After a few days, the kapu was lifted and they were able to return to their home.

The boulder is carved with petroglyphs, most of which are now so worn they are hardly visible.