(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.
Finally alone with the working trees, the silence broken only by the crunch of my feet on the twigs and leaves on the ground and the occasional chirping bird overhead, I stopped a few more times to breathe deeply and take it all in, and to take some more pictures of the rainforest, most of it now below me.
A rustling in the woods made me think some intrepid hiker had wandered off the trail.
Then I heard more noise ahead and to the right, but heading in my direction. The sounds came from low to the ground, like a dog bounding through low-lying brush.
No more than 10 feet in front of me a boar ran onto the trail, turned and looked directly at me, and before I could scream — my natural reaction — the boar bolted across the path into the woods. The rustling quickly faded.
“Did you at least get a picture?” My friend continued.
“No, I didn’t have time. It took one look at me and ran,” I replied.
Though I’d like to claim I wrestled for dear life with a huge boar with massive tusks, in reality my boar was not much bigger than my sister’s portly beagle, and had it charged me I probably would have screamed and fled, or froze. I don’t remember that it had tusks, which means it probably didn’t.
Figuring I’d had my woodland adventure for the day, and realizing I better get moving if I was going to drive to Hana and back that day, I made my way down the hill, assuring new arrivals that the lookout wasn’t too far away, and that it was worth the hike.
“But if you go a bit further you might come across a boar,” I told one old man who was just leaving the parking area.
A young girl, who might have been his granddaughter, stopped short, eyes open wide.
“Don’t worry. He’s well beyond the lookout, and by the way he ran when he saw me, I’m pretty sure he was more scared of me than I was of him.”
Boar hunting is big on the islands, after all.
At a sports bar in Kahului that night, I listened to a melange of rock music with a decidedly Hawaiian influence played by a band made up of locals.
I contemplated the menu, ravished after a day on the road.
The bartender enthusiastically recommended their specialty, the always delicious Kailua pork.
I thought of the boar, thanked her for the suggestion, and ordered a hamburger.
About our coverage of Hawaii
Courthouse News Service has provided daily coverage of the U.S. District Court for Hawaii for more than a decade and of Honolulu County since 2008. CNS began regular in-person coverage of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai counties in 2015.
Honolulu County Facts
County Seat: Honolulu, also the state capital
Named After: Honolulu means “sheltered harbor” in Hawaiian.
Honolulu County comprises all of the main island of Oahu.
Oahu means “the gathering place” in Hawaiian.
The third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands behind Hawaii and Maui, Oahu is home to approximately two-thirds of the state’s population, more than a third of whom live in Honolulu.
Oahu is home to Pearl Harbor, headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet.
Approximately 50,000 military personnel are stationed on Oahu.
Hawaii sends two representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives. The first district, currently represented by Democrat Mark Takai, covers Honolulu and many of its suburbs. Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is currently the representative for the second district, which covers the rest of the state.
Read more coverage of Honolulu County News
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Tempers Flare at Hawaiian Caucus Site
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Hawaii County Facts
County Seat: Hilo
Named After: The state and island might be named after Hawaiiloa, a legendary figure from native mythology who is said to have discovered the islands. In the native language the word Hawaii is similar to a reconstructed Proto-Polynesian word that means homeland.
The island of Hawaii is also known as the Big Island, which is at times confused with the main island, which refers to bustling Oahu.
The Big Island is the only county in the state with two circuit court locations, one in windward Hilo and the other in leeward Kealakekua. Both locations are part of the third circuit. The fourth circuit used to cover part of the Big Island, but it was eliminated in 1943 when it merged with the third circuit. Kauai retained its designation as the fifth circuit.
World-famous Kona coffee comes from the leeward Kona region, which includes the area around and to the south of Kealakekua.
Hilo has been hit by two devastating tsunamis that destroyed much of the town. It also has the highest annual rainfall of any city in the United States.
The Big Island is twice as big as all the other Hawaiian Islands combined and is home to eight of the world’s 13 climate zones.
King Kamehameha the Great, who unified the Hawaiian Islands into one empire, was born in West Hawaii, where Hawaiian royalty retreated for leisure throughout the 19th century.
This bureau chief was told that the Big Island is the “poorest” of the islands, and, if the state in general is where people go to get away from it all, the Big Island, and the Hilo side in particular, is where some people go to run away from it all.
He also fairly fell in love with the inhabitants of Hilo, with their big and open personalities, joie de vivre and aloha spirit, and the town itself, the nearby rainforests and the lava fields farther to the south in the wild Puna region.
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Maui County Facts
County Seat: Wailuku
Named After: Maui is a demigod in Hawaiian mythology who created the islands.
Maui County includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Molokini and Molokai, except for a portion of Molokai that comprises Kalawao County.
Kahoolawe and Molokini are uninhabited. The former was used as a training ground and bombing range by the United States military. Though the bombing has stopped after decades of protests, the island remains a reserve that can be used only for native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes. Unexploded ordnance remains on the land and in the sea near the island.
Kalawao County is located on a peninsula on the north coast of Molokai, separated from the rest of the island by high sea cliffs. The population is 90, making it the second-least populous county in the United States behind Loving County, Texas, with its 82 residents. Kalawao County does not have the functions of other counties in Hawaii. It is a judicial district of Maui and was long used to house and treat quarantined people with leprosy.
Maui’s main population center in the northwest is Lahaina, once the royal capital of Maui turned whaling town turned tourist destination. The name means “cruel sun” in Hawaiian, referring to the sunny and dry climate on the western, or leeward, side of the island.
The world-famous Kaanapali Beach lies to the north of Lahaina.
Maui is the most visited of the neighbor islands. For this bureau chief, its physical beauty is unsurpassed.
Maui has become a focal point of eco-activism in recent decades, including attempts to slow down development and ban genetically modified crops from the entire county.
Maui is home to the dormant shield volcano Haleakala that so resembled a lunar surface that astronauts practiced mock lunar walks before the moon landing.
Read more coverage of Maui County News
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Water Problems Even in Hawaii
Hollywood Bigwig Sued Over Film Chair’s Ouster
Critical Habitat Designated for 125 Hawaiian Species
Mom Demands Hawaiian Language Classes
Kauai County Facts
County Seat: Lihue
Named After: According to legend, Hawaiiloa named Kauai after a favorite son. One possible translation is “place around the neck,” as in how a father would carry a favorite child. Another option is “food season.”
Kauai County is comprised of the islands of Kauai, Niihau, Lehua and Kauula. The latter two are in uninhabited.
Known as the Garden Island, Kauai and neighboring Niihau were the last islands to succumb to King Kamehameha and join the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Kauai’s Waimea Bay was the site of Captain Cook’s first landing in Hawaii. Cook was the first European known to have reached the islands. He was later killed on the Kona side of the Big Island.
Home to the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, which Mark Twain reportedly dubbed “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” though that statement might have been falsely attributed to him. Even if Twain didn’t so name it, this bureau chief thinks the designation is apt.
Much of the film “Jurassic Park” was filmed on Kauai.
Kauai is also home to Wailua Falls, made famous in the opening credits to the television series “Fantasy Island.”
A 19th century census in Kauai listed as residents 65 menehune. Some people say the menehune, small in stature and known as superb craftsmen, were the original inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands, before the Polynesian settlers arrived. The menehune name appears in many places on the islands. There is a Menehune Coffee Company in Kailu-Kona on the Big Island and constructions signs at the airport in Maui just a few weeks ago read “Caution: Menehune at Work.”
Known as the “Forbidden Island,” Niihau, population 130, is owned by the Robinson family, descendants of Elizabeth Sinclair, who reportedly bought the island from King Kamehameha V for $10,000 in gold in 1864. Supposedly Ms. Sinclair had the option to buy Waikiki on Oahu, but preferred the isolated Niihau. The population is predominantly Native Hawaiian, and Hawaiian is the language most used on the island, including for business and at church. Outsiders are prohibited on the island unless invited.
Read more coverage of Kauai County News
Hawaii Takes GMO Fight to Switzerland
Ninth Circuit Digs in on Hawaii GMO Rules
Group Fights Feds for Whale Habitat in Hawaii
Native Hawaiian Can’t Live in State Park
Hawaii Resort Agrees to Dim Light for Seabirds
Read more coverage of news from around Hawaii
World’s Navies Converge on Pacific for RIMPAC Exercises
Hawaii Tells Police to Keep Slow Drivers Right
Hawaii Passes First of Its Kind Gun Legislation
88 People Welcomed as US Citizens in Hawaii
Candidates Storm HI Fourth of July Parade
Drones Offer Closer Look in Marine Life Study
Photos: Chris Marshall/CNS
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