I told you there would be more. :o) Truthfully, I could talk about Waipi'o Valley all day.
The area floods frequently, which our guides claimed to enjoy. I guess it really cleans the floors in their house. Actually, the area used to have tons of permanent residents (as opposed to the 50 that live there now), up to about 10,000 people. They had churches, restaurants, schools, hotels, a post office, even a jail. But then the worst tsunami in Hawaii's history cleaned the whole place out in 1946. :o( A few moved back in, but then in 1979, it flooded so badly that the whole valley was covered in 4 feet of water from side to side. Fun. Now only the truly dedicated remain.
There was this little doggie -clearly the happiest dog in the entire world- that followed us around throughout the whole ride. He knew the valley inside and out, and would dart sideways into the jungle and disappear, only to reemerge 10 minutes later somewhere else. The horses didn't seem to mind. At one point, our guide instructed him to corral one of the wild mules who was eating the food of the stable horses. This basically involved running up to the mule and barking at it while dodging the mule's hoof as it attempted to stomp on the dog. Though somewhat alarming, the doggie knew what he was doing and wasn't ever in danger of getting squished.
A small point, but he made our horseback riding experience all the merrier. :o)
One of my favorite parts was riding through the little rivers that zigzagged around the valley. Definitely not something you could do easily if you weren't on horseback. Although at one point, poor Kristen got drenched because the river suddenly got so deep that we all had to adjust on our saddles so our legs weren't hanging in the water up to our knees. She was the first person in line, so she took the fall for the rest of us. Thanks, Kristen. My dry shoes appreciated it.
Apparently the locals that live in the valley aren't too keen on tourists invading and poking around. I can understand that. It's a truly bizarre and spiritual place. I wouldn't want anyone who disrespects it coming in either. That's part of why we chose the horseback ride. I think they give more cred' (and have more patience) for the guides who live there, and therefore don't (openly) mock the tourists that are with them.
If you ever decide to take this trip through Waipi'o Valley, I recommend going on the morning ride. The sun making its way up and over the cliffs and then pouring through the trees was something truly magical.