The Other Hawaii
Although I have taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 MTS trips over the years, it is like your first love, my first trip was called “The Other Hawaii” and I went on this first adventure in 1988 and that started my long love affair with adventure travel with Mountain Travel/Sobek. (In those days it was just called Mountain Travel!)
As the name implies this was not your typical resort beach trip to Hawaii, we were there to discover areas that most people never see. We did visit the beach, but it was influenced by making our way to gather 4 different colored sands on The Big Island and Maui. The mountain part of the trip took us to the top of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea (the tallest mountain in the world from base to peak).
The four sands we gathered were green, red, black and white. The black and white were relatively easy to find, it was the green sand on The Big Island that took about a 5 mile hike to get to on Papakolea Beach where it looked as if half the cylinder cone of a long ago volcano was missing to form this out of the way beach. We were there by ourselves for the entire afternoon. The red sand was found on Maui and it also required a hike to Kaihalulu Bay and that had these beautiful emerald waters.
Our hikes took us to remote parts of the islands where we explored valleys and saw one waterfall after another coming out of the mountains. On many of these hikes we would encounter many of the native plants and animals often running into wild horses.
As I learned on this MTS trip, the guide is so important to the experience and we had a fantastic guide who was a retired army colonel named Richard. He was so passionate about the exerience that he often would go off the itinerary so we could be in the moment. One night while Kilauea had a slow lava flow he took us down to where it was crossing the highway and we could see the glow and feel the warmth of the lava. We had been at sunrise on Maui at Haleakala prior to our 2 day hike across the moonscape trail called Sliding Sands. Richard wanted to make sure we saw one of the rarest plants in the world the Silver Sword, we went off trail to enjoy them.
We had the best accommodations as some nights we pitched our tents on the beach or stayed at state parks on the beach. How wonderful it was to get out of the tent and go snorkeling prior to a camp side breakfast. We took the famous road to Hana, but we experienced this in the unique MTS way as we not only visited the Pools of Ohe’o (seven sacred pools), we actually swan in the deep freshwater pools.
Everyone who has taken a MTS trip knows that not only are the places you discover memorable, but the people you meet along the way are such an important part of the experience. Our group was small, with just our guide and 3 travelers. One of the people in our group was such an inspiration as she had a very rare physical disease, but went on every hike, adventure and was not intimidated about being in public. As a young man, I realized that this trip not only opened my eyes to a larger world and adventure travel, but to the amazing people and cultures I would come to know and respect in the years ahead on MTS trips. MTS helped teach me all that during my many years of journeys that all started with a trip called “The Other Hawaii.”
Robert Bagnato, MT Sobek Guest
MT Sobek Trip: The Other Hawaii, 1988