Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Along the Old Pali Road

The view from the Pali Lookout is a "must see" for any traveler going to Oahu.  Not only are the views of the island spectacular, but the history here is significant and a bit horrific.  As depicted in the above painting, this is where King Kamehameha I defeated the Maui forces by driving them off the cliff with spears, firearms and a cannon.  This battle took place in 1795 and because of it, the Hawaiian Islands became unified under his leadership.
Honolulu, of course, is where the newly established king lived.  To get from this city to the windward side, there were two options, by canoe or by foot.  The pali (cliff) trail was the quickest, but it was steep and slippery.  Jump ahead one hundred years and this same foot trail was widened to accommodate horses and carriages.  Portions of the cliff were blasted to create a wider road.  In the 1950's, the road could no longer handle car traffic and it was closed.  A new 4-lane highway was built and included the excavation of tunnels.
At the top of Pali Lookout, if you look down and to the right, you will see this concrete path leading into the jungle.  This is the old historic road.  It is sometimes closed, but on the day I was there, the barricade was open and I couldn't resist seeing what was on the other side.  It turned out to be an enchanting little hike--beautiful, haunting and best of all, devoid of humanity.  You can take it all the way down and to the northern shore of Oahu, if you desire, but my travel buddy and I walked only a short distance, stopping often to soak up the stellar views and to get a sense of what it was like to travel this road in the early 1900's.  What a memorable (and frightening) experience it must have been to drive a Model T along these cliffs!

The old concrete road gets more and more narrow the further you walk.  How quickly Mother Earth reclaims her territory if we let her alone!  Plants were sprouting up between the cracks and I understand the further you go, the more difficult it gets.

The congestion and traffic gridlock of Oahu alarmed and worried me.  I don't see how this beautiful little island can accommodate any more traffic.  Will the 4-lane highway be widened into 8?

 But up here, all was well.  Walking along the Old Pali Road gave me a sense of hope.  There is still magic in the world, even in our overcrowded cities.  We just have to get out of our damn cars to find it!

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