20 June 2016

Pacific Paradise, Pt. 4

Kalaupapa Peninsula is, as the name suggests, a peninsula approximately 2.5 miles by 2.5 miles on the north coast of the island of Molokai, Hawai'i. It juts out from what are purportedly the highest sea cliffs in the world. It was formed when one such cliff sheared off and a volcanic peak arose from the bottom of the ocean millions of years ago. There are only three ways to get there: fly, ride a mule, or hike down the steep three-mile trail. Either way, you need specific permission. (I'm informed that a barge arrives every July as well, bringing supplies to the residents). Once there, there is a four-hour guided tour.

We chose to hike down the 1760' cliff face. Each of the 26 switch backs, thankfully, is numbered. Going down is murder on the knees—because you are, essentially, braking with each step. Going up takes a toll on your thighs and cardio-vascular system. We figured the hike was the equivalent of climbing down then back up a stairway to the top of a 200-story skyscraper—in the tropical heat and humidity.

Kalaupapa was formerly a leper colony. Folks with the disease were shipped here from all over the world and left to fend for themselves. It was brutal until a kindly priest and a dedicated nun brought consolation and community, treating those afflicted like human beings. Of course, leprosy—now known as Hansen's Disease—has been curable for many years. Now, the peninsula is a National Historical Park. And, quite possibly one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Below are some pictures from our hike (click pics to embiggen slideshow!):

Rainbow peeking out from behind sea cliff down which we are hiking
A rocky beach beside the trail at the bottom of the hike down Kalaupapa
The view from the pier in Kalaupapa 
2000' Sea Cliffs
Famous church built by Father Damien
Sea Cliffs (as you face east from Kalaupapa) reaching to the clouds
Sea cliffs, lava rock beach
Sea Cliffs (as you face west from Kalaupapa) + Black Sand Beach beside the trail back up the cliff
Wild goats on the hike up the cliffs
That is the blue of the ocean (not the sky) from the trail! 
Partial view of Kalaupapa Peninsula (2.5 x 2.5 miles) from the trail head
Kalaupapa Peninsula from the air

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