It was hard to get over how beautiful our camping spot at Laupahoehoe really was this morning. Connie and I enjoyed watching the sunrise and surf for a while before we had a fruity breakfast then set out. Today was dedicated mostly to the Waipi'o Valley and hikes therein. We trekked down the 25% grade road into the valley and headed down the county road a ways to find our hike to the sacred and stunning Hi'ilawe Falls. I got permission from one of the local land owners to pass through their property though it appears most folks just do the hike regardless. At first we nearly gave up because we couldn't find the head of the trail. Just before we called our defeat we followed a group consisting of family and friends in Hawaii to celebrate an upcoming wedding.
The hike to Hi'ilawe, though not far, is a tough one! We forded the river at least half a dozen times (once up to our necks with backpacks over our head while trying to maintain balance in the water), bouldered and clammered around quite a bit to get to our destination. It was, of course, well worth it. The stream was full but the falls seemed a mere trickled once we got there. Connie and I ate some lunch and stood under one of the parts of the falls. At 1450' in height it's pretty hard to take it all in especially when standing right underneath but it was pretty incredible how deep and compact the valley is. I had to crane my neck so I almost fell backwards to see it all (and snap some of the panoramas below).
After reversing that same hike we again hit the county road and headed towards the beach to enjoy that for a bit over a snack. Then... back uphill. That 25% grade means in a mere mile we had to ascent 1000'. Definitely tough but we made it with flying colors and hopped in the van to head over the saddle between Mauna Kea and Kohala mountains to the town of Waimea. We aimed for dinner at a nice place but, after a day's worth of hiking, we kinda' just wanted a good beer. Since we drove by just such a place we decided to stop. Big Island Brewhaus delighted us with their dark brews and their Mexican food was just what our stomach's needed. To top it all off that same wedding party was there celebrating.
That night we had two campgrounds in the possibility set but, after getting to the minimalist Mahukona beach park at dark (very low facilities park) we decided to head back to our original spot at Spencer Beach. We checked in with the guard and slept hard after a great day on the Big Island!