Hawaiian Journal
page 4


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Waimoko Falls


I’m way up a couple of miles. Here’s two waterfalls into a very deep pool surrounded by lava cliffs. No way to get close to this pool. Little clumps of fern fill various cracks.

So the yellow fruit I ate yesterday was a guava; I had one here today. I wonder what the yellow pomegranates are?


In the bamboo grove
in full sunlight
it is dark


A sunny day
outside the bamboo grove
darkness within


This is incredible, like being a mite crawling on the ground through a meadow of tall grass. The stalks are mostly two to three inches in diameter and maybe thirty to forty feet tall. Even redwood groves aren’t nearly this dark. You look in any direction and stems overlap until no daylight gets through. Overhead the leaves blot most of the sky, yet where I stand it seems light enough, just daylight shade. What an easy place to lose a trail! What a place to meet a human-eating tiger! I’m glad this isn’t southeast Asia.


Twilight in the Bamboo Grove

The sun may shine outside
but it is always twilight
in the bamboo grove.

Two men clatter off the path,
talking about bamboo in Vietnam.

I think of tigers hidden in green,
of me and bamboo, both exotics
meeting on Maui.

“This bamboo is something else,
isn’t it?” one of the men
asks me. I say, “Yeah.”

On my way back from the falls
I wish I could sleep in the bamboo,
to experience twilight and night,
but there’s nowhere to lie down.


Maui seems to have no unmodified vegetation. It’s a potpourri of tropical plant systems from all over the world. Some, like the redwoods I understand are here on Maui higher up Haleakala, aren’t even tropical. Yet I think Maui is enhanced by all this. Almost all the fruit varieties were human imports.

If the dried leaves of bamboo on the ground weren’t so pale, this forest would be even darker. When green they’re dark as bay leaves.


Whoa! Waimoko falls are high! Highest falls I’ve ever seen in person anyway. How high, I wonder? Let me try to figure it out. If that man looks like he’s one inch tall 18 inches away, and he’s really about six feet tall, he must be 108 feet away.

So if the falls are slightly farther away, maybe 120 feet, and they subtend an angle of, well, like this taller triangle, that would make them about 360 feet high. There’s a redwood tree somewhere as high as this waterfall?


I wonder why all of a sudden there’s a four hundred foot cliff. There’s streamlets trickling down all over it, but most of the water follows one path. This fall is half-blur and half, well the white blobs of water remind me of nothing so much as the traffic on a Los Angeles freeway as it looked at night from the plane.


There’s a very large black wasp apparently taking bearings on my bag, It’s quite pretty, very thread-waisted, but a wasp is a wasp and I wish it would split. I moved my bag, thinking it might have a nest there. Here it is, drawn life-size or a bit smaller.


So let’s see. The sun rose slightly after six, which means it should set slightly before six? Probably. I need to start going back.

I must say that once my amazement at the height of Waimoko Falls wore off, there’s not much aesthetic about them. These rocks and vegetation work better on smaller waterfalls. It’s like an orchestra instead of a chamber group. I prefer one person on each instrument. Goodbye, falls and wasp. My timing was bad. I met five lovely women walking down while I was coming up, but now there’s just two men here.

I think right here the falls look best, by the DANGER FALLING ROCKS sign, where you first see them with forest trees in the foreground, something to give them scale.

I love these whatever-they-are plants. They grow about 5-15 feet tall and usually have just one stalk with a crown of leaves, but here they’re more elaborate, like the one I’ve drawn above, a growth of stems sort of like bent bay tree trunks. There’s some moss on this one. The leaves are about 18 inches long and 5-6 inches wide. They seem designed similarly to palm trees.

This forest looks like a good place to meet a dinosaur, but this is Cenozoic-style tropical forest. Current theory places dinosaurs in forests more like redwood groves.

All right, I’ve given the left side of my brain a workout. Now what does it smell like and feel like? It sounds like birds and water, smells like sea animals, feels entangling, competitive, peaceful and wild.

What am I doing here anyway? Palm trees and the woods by the sea I like, but this jungle? It has the beauty of complexity and I go more for the beauty of simplicity. This plant by itself is a simple plant. But the tangled stuff that grows here— But why then did I think the Quinault Rain Forest in Washington was so lovely? I loved the elaborate ferns there. These ferns are just plain ferns, pretty much.


Scarlet damselfly
clear lace wings
green and orange mottled leaf


This is nice, a pure grove of those plants, which look a lot like some kind of giant house plants. I sit by the stream and look at the dark green bamboo leaves from the outside, at the guava tree. I see plants with huge heart-shaped leaves, pale green, with some air plants perched on their branch crotches that look like green feather dusters.

There’s a berry here similar to Humboldt blackberries, but they’re light bright red and smaller grained. Not quite in season yet, I think. There’s still blooms and lots of small green berries. Or maybe this plant makes a few berries at a time, year round? I suspect they’re coming into season.

My new guess is that Waimoko Falls falls over the edge of an old crater. The wall the Oheo River flows out would have been blown away by the eruption. Possible?

I’m back on the cow pasture part of the trail. Haleakala National Park has cow pastures.

From here now I can see Hawaii very clearly. There’s three volcanoes above a fogbank. Which is which? Kilauea and Kilauea Iki would be hidden behind Mauna Loa from here. There’s one to the right of Mauna Loa, beyond my sketch. That would be Hualalai.

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