I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a horseman. I grew up around horses and only rode them occasionally. Many of the girls I went to high school with were of the Rodeo Queen circuit and did the barrel racing and wore the fancy rodeo stuff. I always thought that was cool. You know the kind, the cool turquoise pants, shirt and cowboy hats and the belt buckles as big as their turquoise hat. Personally I didn’t get it, but they probably didn’t get why I was in choir and sang all over the place either. Let’s call it even. And that my friends is the great thing that makes us different, our experiences and how they mold our lives.
On our first full day in Hawaii we opted to go horseback riding down in the Waipi’o Valley. I hadn’t been on a horse in about 30 years and Sweet Husband hadn’t been on one since Cub Scouts. And unless he’s holding out on me and sneaking off to Cub Scout meetings, I’d say that is closer to 40 years for him.
The day was overcast with a light mist, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. It only means it won’t be a hot day for the ride. We arrive at the meeting place, which conveniently is an art gallery/snack area, where we sign up, pay our fees, are loaded into a van and driven to our death. Death you ask? Yes, the road that leads to the Waipio Valley floor is only accessible by walking or four wheel drive. The ride is a 900 foot decent in 1 mile, and the road is carved into the side of a hill. The down hill traffic yields to the uphill as it is only a one lane road. When two vehicles meet, the downhill one has to move to the side. Here’s a teeny clue, there aren’t too many sides to move to, unless you count straight down.
Lucky me, I was shown to the front passenger seat. I looked inside and said to Jay, our driver and guide. “Hey, there’s no brake on this side”. He laughed and said, “Yeah, and you’re gonna wish there was”. Gulp! That little conversation followed his “oh shit” look that he had given me earlier when I told him my name. I wasn’t defensive when I asked if there was a problem, but I think I surprised him when I did ask. He took a breathe, rolled his eyes and said that Hurricane Carla once wiped out his house, thus the ‘oh shit’ look. I assured him that I would try to behave and not create any whirlwinds. He was a cool dude, funny and very personable. Jay sorta looked like a younger Willie Nelson, who was most likely better with horses than with a guitar, but I’m only assuming that part.
No lives were lost as we made out way down into the valley. I just concentrated on looking out the window to a point far far away. I didn’t look at the road and really not any of the other 10 people in the van talked. It was almost an uncomfortable silence, so I thought it best to not scream in terror as we edged closer to the abyss and upset the rest of the group. I figured a mile isn’t very long (unless you’re falling) and really before I knew it we were leveling out at the horse barn.
Sweet Husband and I were given nice horses. Sunny, Sweet Husbands horse, wanted to eat all the time. It seemed like every time I looked, SH was trying to wrestle his horse out of the ferns, grass or anything he saw he wanted to eat. My horse Midget, only wanted to be the leader, so off we went, to lead this group through the taro fields of the Waipi’o Valley. We rode for about 2 and a half hours, looking at the waterfalls that drop for 1500 feet into beautiful ponds surrounded by lush tropical plants. We rode past houses where some of the 50 residents of this valley live. I can’t fathom how they got anything into this valley with the road being so steep and narrow, and yet there were multiple cars, animals and even a very large tractor. I guess where there’s a will, there is a way. We rode through rivers and wandered back to the barn. It was a very memorable adventure and I recommend it, even if you’re a long time rider. It’s a gorgeous ride and one we will cherish, I’d do it again. My only real fear was being sore after riding. Soreness didn’t happen, so we really did have Happy Trails.