Maui Arts & Entertainment

Dear Would-Be Olowalu to Iao Hiker

January 22, 2013, 4:04 PM HST
* Updated January 22, 4:56 PM
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A literary work in which human vice or folly is exposed or criticized through irony, derision, or wit. 

By Vanessa Wolf

'Iao Valley, file photo by Wendy Osher.

‘Iao Valley, file photo by Wendy Osher.


Dear Would-Be Olowalu to Iao Valley Hiker,


It has come to our attention that you keep trying this, despite the preponderance of words like “certain death,” “impossible,” “beyond stupid,” and “Darwin Awards.”

Speaking of which, we can’t help but wonder if the ancient Hawaiians started the tale of this “trail” or “pass” as a means of thinning the herd; a survival of the fittest snipe hunt, if you will.

But we don’t actually know that. All we know is that attempting this hike is a terrible idea. Even “Maui Revealed” doesn’t recommend anyone take a shot at this insanity.


Thus, we are left to draw one conclusion as to your motives, oh intrepid hiker: you are on a suicide mission.

That stated, we offer up some helpful tips.

Not that we want you to die – not at all; in fact, please seek counseling or at least hike something reasonable like Polipoli and get your head on straight – but because we realize it must be disappointing when you hear the chopper overhead and know you’ll live on to see your name featured on this very website.

Plus, we can’t imagine what all these airlift rescues are going to do to our tax rates.

Presuming this is what you seek, and in no particular order, here’s how to ensure you never return from your “mission” to the Iao Valley via the back road.

  1. Water is for cowards. That’s right. We said it. Looking to meet your maker somewhere before the summit? Dehydration is the name of the game.
  2. Wait for several days of intense rain. Nothing says “no body was recovered” like a flash flood.
  3. By all means, wear inappropriate footwear. High heels or stilettos are ideal, but slippers (flip flops to you mainlanders) – especially those with no tread whatsoever – will do in a pinch.
  4. Leave your cell phone at home. If you prefer to die in a manner that shames your family, for goodness sake make sure there is no back up plan.
  5. Would survivalist Bear Grylls bring a compass, let alone a GPS device? No. Of course not. He’d pool his own saliva in his hands and use it as a divining rod or something. Barring that, just follow the sun and when that goes away, lick a toad or two, chew on some random leaves and berries, and hope for the best…er…worst.
  6. Part of a suicide pact or doomsday cult? Forget poisonous Kool Aid. It’s so messy for the clean up crew. Put a metaphorical bug in your cult leader’s ear, gather up the brainwashed followers, and attempt this hike. Make sure no one brings warm clothes, food, common sense, or hydration of any kind. Go into the light: the other side awaits.

Seriously, folks: PLEASE STOP DOING THIS.

There are plenty of other ways to take your life into your hands on this island: the “Commando Hike,” mountain biking down Haleakala, the “Bamboo Forest” trail, spear fishing in sharky water, or driving up Oprah’s road.

In fact, maybe just skip all that, as well, and choose an activity that doesn’t hurt anybody (especially you), like sit on the beach or eat a papaya or something.

Whatever you choose, thank you in advance for not getting airlifted.

Have an idea for a fun or thought-provoking story? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. -Vanessa (

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