A Morning at Twin Falls
A Morning at Twin Falls with Boss Frog’s
I bounced out of bed early on a Sunday morning, ready to get some oxygen in my system. It was sunny – perfect weather for the Twin Falls hike!
I frequently wake up exuberant on Sundays, because I allow myself to do almost nothing of consequence the day before. As each work week progresses, I always imagine I’ll get a lot done on Saturday, but such fantasies of production rarely come to pass.
I laced up my sneakers, hopped into the car, and drove to Mile Marker 2 on the Road to Hana, thrilled by the emerald foliage eclipsing both sides of the highway. When traveling any portion of this world-renowned journey, I always feel as though I’m tucked into a jungle nest – safe, healthy, and full of life.
When I arrived, I parked, protected my electronic car key in a pocket-sized dry box I’d bought at a dive shop, swept past the Twin Falls Farm Stand, and hit the trail.
There weren’t many people around this early, but after a while, I noticed two dogs up ahead. I didn’t know the dogs yet, nor did I know their owner, who I presumed was the man far behind me. I wanted to get some exercise on the way to the upper fall, so rather than pausing to offer my wrist to the dogs in greeting, I maintained my pace. A few moments later, one of the dogs brushed past, trotting a boundary between me and the tropical forest.
After hiking a while, I could finally see the gorgeous upper falls! I had only to make my way through the stream below – Ho’olawa Ii’ili’i – to reach it.
The water was deep today, and calm. It almost went past my knees. Stepping in felt cool and good.
I sloshed through the stream to the waterfall, scanning the banks for rubbish. When I see trash on the trail, I pick it up. It looks unsightly, it’s super disrespectful to the land, and when the rains come, all trash will eventually make its way to the ocean. Luckily, compared to many other popular spots on the island, not many people seem to litter at Twin Falls. (Either that, or stewards come through often. I hope for the former, but it’s impossible to tell.)
I found some discarded items I wasn’t willing to touch, but I hadn’t brought a bag with me. Luckily, a solution presented itself just a few feet ahead: a tank top that had been left in the mud. I scrubbed it out as best I could in the stream water, and wrapped the trash up with it. Once washed, the tank top might be usable, I thought. It had been white, with a large teal plumeria printed down one side, and plastic glitter buttons where – on a real flower – pollinators would normally land. If someone hadn’t picked this up, the plastic pieces would have eventually come unglued and been washed down the river. The sparkly bits would likely have been eaten by some unfortunate fish in the Ho’olawa Stream or the ocean beyond. I pulled myself out of my conservationist musings, and looked around at this incredible place.
THE UPPER FALL
The sunlight reflected off the surface of the pond to dance along the cave wall just beyond the falls. This particular natural beauty attracts me like no other, leaving my mind still and my mouth agape. In order to get closer, I crouched to duck beneath a fallen log, mentally handled the spiderwebs I knew would stick to my face and arms, and rose. I stood tall before the light – reverent and grateful and quiet.
When I turned to look back the way I’d come, my breath caught in my throat. Could there be more beauty? There could be, and there was.
The first rays of the sun – a soft gold – reached down to touch the far side of the pond. The falls hit the surface, throwing fine drops of water into the air, and this mist drifted lazily through the strengthening sunlight. Surrounded by so much life and vitality, I expanded my focus to take in the entire scene.
The sun ray touched down on one side, and the gentle falls continued to splash in on the other. Bright green ferns hung from the cave ceiling above, and I held the knowledge of the reflected light on the cave wall behind me. The moment was so laden with beauty, it was almost too much for my heart to bear without singing or shouting for joy! A thought quickly flitted through my mind, like one of the crawdads in the pond: And this is just the first stop on the Road to Hana.
While wading back through the water, I accidentally snagged my foot on a submerged rock. I tripped, caught myself, stumbled over a second rock, took another step, and floundered a third time, laughing aloud at my clumsiness. I was excited that I hadn’t fallen altogether; clearly the effort I’ve been making to improve my balance was working!
A year or so before, I’d overheard one of the trainers at my gym on island – Anytime Fitness – working on balance with his client. The trainer said that the reason we fall more often as we get older is not because we can’t walk correctly, or our balance is off. To prevent falls, we need to strengthen the muscles around our joints so that they can hold us up when our balance is tested. This is something that can be accomplished fairly easily, he said, and he detailed a short exercise:
Stand on one foot, and hold your hands out in front of you. Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle, and place them in line with your pectoral muscles. If you can do the next part without falling, then suspend the foot that is off the ground high – next to your other knee. Your goal is to stay balanced on each foot for at least one minute. (While you’re improving your balance with this exercise, do it near a wall at first. That way, you’ll have something to momentarily touch on if need be.) This exercise, of course, should not be attempted by everyone, but since it’s worked really well for me, I thought I’d pass it along.
“How much farther till we get there?” one man asked me, gripping his wife’s hand as they power-walked towards the falls I’d just enjoyed.
“Oh, about 15 minutes,” I replied, thinking 15 minutes of potentially timeless moments.
When I’d first visited the Islands from my home state of California, it was on a family trip to Kauai. We took a Na Pali Coast boat tour, and our vessel – the Blue Dolphin – encountered Hawaiian spinner dolphins. I was in my mid-twenties, and I had a point-and-shoot camera with me. I fumbled with it, trying to get a decent shot of the dolphins from the side of the moving boat. (This was in the age of flip-phones, mind you.) A fellow tourist, who was at least 20 years older, told me to stop taking photos – to just be there with the animals, and in the moment. She said this would be short, and that I was missing it. I didn’t listen to her. I wanted to “remember” it through the camera lens. I didn’t get any shots, and the wise woman was right: I have no real memories of the pod – the first time I’d seen wild dolphins in the Islands.
These two visitors on the Twin Falls trail were rushing to see everything. Were they really seeing it? I wondered. Would they remember anything? I hoped they would, deep in their bones – what the Hawaiians call the iwi.
Mahalo for joining me on this morning at Twin Falls, Dear Readers. Whether you choose to stoke your imagination further with more reading, see these waters for yourself, or pass them by in favor of other sites along the Road to Hana, I wish you wonders!
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