(CN) — "Did you kill it?" my friend's voice boomed through the phone.
"With what?" I replied. "I didn't bring a gun on the plane." Not to mention I've never owned a gun and hadn't shot one in almost 20 years.
That morning, before heading out from Paia — presently the "hippest town" on Maui, or so I'd been told — I read about some hiking trails on the legendary Road to Hana, a 50-odd mile stretch that runs along a thin strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the foothills of the dormant Haleakala volcano from the port city of Kahului in central Maui to Hana in the southeast.
The drive boasts more than 50 one-lane bridges and almost as many waterfalls and stunning vistas as it winds its way through the rainforest. The first road connecting Hana with the central and western parts of the island was started in the 16th century. Legend has it that the journey required travelers to swing themselves over some rushing streams in East Maui on ropes made of vines.
Though modern road construction began in the late 19th century it wasn't completed until 1926, and paving took another few decades.
After driving in congested traffic, which included about 10 minutes of a frustrated local behind me screaming at my bumper and occasionally honking — a definite no-no for those who practice aloha, as our reporter in Honolulu told me on a later trip to Oahu — I decided a quick hike up a mountain trail might provide some peace from the relative chaos.
After pulling off the snaking two-lane "highway," I waited for a car to back out and drive away from the otherwise full parking area, which was nothing more than a dirt strip bordering a ditch alongside a small mountain.
"How far up is it?" a skeptical middle-aged woman in front of me asked an older couple coming down the trail.
"The lookout is only about 20 minutes up," the man replied.
At the beginning of the trail I paused to take a picture of a "Quiet. Trees at Work" sign before excusing myself as I squeezed past the woman and her chatty brood, and then fairly ran up the path until I was out of earshot from them or the passing cars.
Farther up the trail I could hear people talking to my left, but noticed that the trail continued up the hill. I walked over to the lookout. The trees opened to a view of a rainforest valley spreading into the interior of windward Maui, bordered by lush, rolling green hills on the other side.
After snapping some requisite photos I made my way back to the trail, meeting the woman and her raucous crew at the trail. I assured them the lookout was in the direction whence I came and then wandered up the hill, stopping occasionally to take pictures, including one of a tree, the roots of which stuck a few feet out of the ground in a circle, empty inside, the trunk of the tree rising from the middle.