Technically, it was illegal to hike to Twin Falls. According to my Maui guidebook, Twin Falls was on private property, a tropical farm that harvested exotic flowers to be exact, so to hike it was considered trespassing. However, the guidebook also said this hike was so popular with tourists that the owners wouldn’t prosecute unless you wandered off the marked path and into the crops. With that knowledge, we drove past the surf town of Pa’ia until Highway 36 inexplicably turned into Highway 360 and the mile markers start over at 0. At Mile Marker 2, the guidebook told us to pull off the highway and park the car. If it weren’t for the three other cars parked along the barbwire fence and the juice cart off to the side, I wouldn’t have had any idea something worth pursuing was here. My mother and I locked our purses in the trunk, got a juice from the pretty juice cart girl and climbed over the locked farm gate onto the well-worn path that the guidebook said was the way to Twin Falls.
At first we were unsure of the path. The rows of tropical flowers and exotic fruits gave us no indication. Then under some crop branches we saw the first sign. It was a hand painted wooden sign that said “waterfalls” with an arrow. We walked in the direction of the arrow a little more confident we were going the right way. As we walked the crops gave way to a lush forest. We walked through two wide, but shallow streams of flowing water, my mother a little nervous at getting her shoes wet. Suddenly we heard it; the sound of rushing water. Lots of it. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? A branch of the path veered into the woods and we followed it toward the sound. Voices could also be heard. Abruptly the path ended above a raging river with a short, wide, gushing waterfall. This was the first twin. Four other people were already here taking photos and talking. They told us that there was a big rainstorm on the mountain above the night before and it was all running down toward the ocean today. The runoff from the mountain made the water brown.
“Take a picture of me in front of it,” my mother said. She wanted proof that she had found a hidden waterfall. We then followed the other group back to the main trail, but they were going down and we were going up. Again we were alone and I wondered how many people were on the trail. As soon as I had that thought, a family of three came down upon us, laughing and soaking wet.
“You’re gonna love it,” said a young, shirtless and extremely blonde boy still laughing. “You’re gonna get wet!” he shouted. His laugh had an almost ominous tone. He left my mother a bit worried because she wasn’t prepared for a swim. I was, but I only expected to get damp.
We came to another sign, this one simply a smooth stone with a drawing of a waterfall and another arrow pointing the way. Here the path turned and became a little steeper and muddier. After a few more minutes of walking the trail opened up a bit and a drainage ditch stopped us. On our left a retaining wall held the drainage ditch water, which presumably ran down to the crops below. The ditch was so full that water was overflowing the wall and tumbling down the hill through the trees. My mom and I walked on top of the wall to a small clearing surrounded by water. Now what? We didn’t know which way to go. All we could see was a swamp with lots of trees and very muddy. So muddy you couldn’t see how deep it was. We sat down on some rocks and looked around. Through our silence, we could just barely hear it; another rush of water traveling through the air and hitting more water below. The sound was in front of us, but the trees were so thick we couldn’t see anything.
“Do we have to go through that?” my mother asked. I didn’t know, but I was going to find out. I had my swim suit on under my clothes so I took off my t-shirt and slowly waded into the water. I left my shoes on as I walked across the bumpy swamp bottom in case there were any sharp rocks to cut me or tree roots that could twist my ankles, but there weren’t. The water came up to my knees, then my waist and then my chest. I wished I had brought my waterproof camera as I held my regular one over my head. Just when I thought I was going to have to swim for it, the water level diminished. Several yards away, I climbed out of the water and over some muddy tree roots and I could just barely see it: The second twin.
“Is it there?” Mom yelled. Yes it was. This fall was much taller than the first and the water broke into many large droplets as it landed into the circular pool below. It wasn’t exactly the crystal blue pool you see in the movies. It was brown with runoff. The shining green branches from the trees above provided all the color as they hung low, almost touching the pool. I brushed away some branches as I walked closer and saw a honeymoon couple had already beaten me there and were frolicking in the pool. I hoped I wasn’t interrupting anything. I cleared my throat and when they saw me they asked me to take a picture of them standing under the fall. As I took the picture, they kissed and it made me miss my boyfriend back on the mainland. After the picture they left and I was alone with the waterfall. I took pictures of the fall from all angles until I ran out of film.
I didn’t want to keep my mother waiting much longer so I waded back and told her about the fall. She thought about wading through the swamp in her jeans to see for herself, but the idea of spending the rest of the car ride in wet clothes didn’t appeal much to her. We had to get going because we still had a few more hours to Hana in front of us. I put my dry t-shirt on over my wet swim suit. The rest of me was going to have to air dry in the rented convertible. Just then two couples walked along the retaining wall to where we stood.
“Is that the way to the fall?” one of the men asked us pointing toward the ditch full of water.
“Yes, it is.”
“I hope everyone can swim,” the other guy said only half joking.
My mother and I made our way back across the retaining wall as the two couples stripped down to their swimsuits ready to take the plunge. We turned around when we heard one of the women squealing like a child at the dentist. I was 5’4” and the water came up to my chest. This woman was even shorter than I and the water approached her neck. Her squeals soon turned into laughter as we continued on our way. We passed a few more people making their way to Twin Falls and now I know what that blonde boy felt when he was laughing his way past us.
Mom was still a little mad at herself for not taking the plunge and seeing the second fall, but the twisting Hana Highway would prove to be surrounded by waterfalls, most of which we didn’t have to hike to. As for myself, I thought the trail was quite an adventure, hiking across swift rivers and wading in deep water just to see something very few people get to see. Maui had lots waterfalls for us to look at, but this one I enjoyed the most because I had to work for it. The chase was far more rewarding than the capture.