The sun-warmed terracotta rock seasoned with the oregano green foliage of Waimea Canyon on the Hawaiian island of Kauai was everything we would hope for in a sightseeing entree. Like the Mainland's Grand Canyon, the stunning landscape was carved by a river, scarring the island's surface to expose its striatic geology. Helicopters were swallowed whole, and massive waterfalls twinkled like tinsel in the vast expanse.
"Well, time to call it a day," agreed my 3 traveling companions. The flight from Oahu was short - a mere 45 minutes at most - but tropical sun, wind, and open-air drive in our rental convertible had collected a toll.
"Wait!" I protested. An avid guidebook reader, I knew we had to keep driving. Tired arguments ensued, but drive, we did. Grumpy companions grumbled the entire way, blaming the fiasco - sunburned shoulders, near empty gas tank, growling hunger - on my stubborn insistence.
The complaining stopped at the end of the road. We walked from the vehicle, climbed a small hill, and watched in awe as clouds dissipated before our eyes. At the start of the Kalalau Trail, the only sound is that of stunned silence - that, and for the astute listener, the lull of waves crashing against the beach of the deserted valley 4,000 feet below.
We only hiked a third of the muddy 11 mile trail sans proper gear or footwear, but the view at the start was worth the drive. Arrive early to see the clouds, then watch as they burn away and expose the mountains and valley below.
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