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As the road begins to narrow and curve through steep mountain terrain, with walls of towering trees to either side, I feel as though an invisible weight that I didn’t even realize was there lifts from my shoulders.
It’s been nearly a week since I’ve escaped to the forests, and my gypsy soul is yearning for a dose of the wilds.Pine Forest-24

The pine forest is one of my most magical places on Maui. Something about the earthy, pungent fragrance…the downy soft pine needles blanketing the forest floor with their rust colored hue… the wispy green branches way overhead hanging a canopy beneath the sky… the absolute stillness, and then the song of the wind.

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To hear the whisper of the wind through the pines is as sweet a music to my ears as to hear its song as it breezes through the bamboo jungle. Both make my heart feel right at home. Peace. Serenity.
Every time I visit the Pine Forest above Maui’s charming upcountry town of Makawao, it’s as if it is the first time all over again. There’s something inherently magnetic about this forest… at least, for me.

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Part of why I love it so much is because of how different it is from some other areas of Maui — the parts that are more readily visible. When people think of Maui, they think of lush rainforest,  rugged cliffs, rainbows, and postcard-perfect beaches. Maui is definitely all of that… but also SO much more.
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Maui is incredibly varied. For example: in the two hour drive to the summit of Haleakala (the volcano,) you pass through as many ecological zones as you would on a journey from Mexico to Canada. That is crazy. And epically awesome. (To help with the perspective: Maui has a maximum length of 39.77 miles and a maximum width of 26.1 miles. Mexico to Canada is a length of 2251 miles.)
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While I’m posting facts, here are a few others to increase your Maui smarts:

  • Maui has a population of 160,000 people. It is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands and the 17th largest island in the US
  • The five major industries are: Tourism, Sugar, Pineapple, Cattle, and Diversified Agriculture (whatever that is.)
  • The average temperature year-round is 75-85 degrees. Eternal Summer. 
  • Maui has 120 linear miles of shorelines, with 81 accessible beaches and a brilliantly vibrant range of sand colors, including white, gold, black, green, and salt & pepper
  • The highest peak, obviously, is Haleakala Volcano, at 10,023 feet. The volcano makes up 75% of the entire island, and the summit crater is approximately seven miles across and a few thousand feet deep. Also of interest ~ Haleakala is the largest dormant volcano in the entire world.
  • The lowest temperature ever recorded on Maui was 11 degrees, on top of Haleakala in 1961.
  • Hawaii is (by far) the most ethnically-diverse state in the country.
  • 3000 humpback whales make Maui their home each winter. Humpback whales weigh 40 tons, their hearts weigh 430 pounds, and 50 people could fit standing up side-by-side on their tongues. Once whale season officially starts (next week,) you’ll be hearing and seeing a lot about it on this blog because I’m a little obsessed.
  • One last important fact to note: Hawaii has the highest life expectancy of any state in the US. You should probably start planning your move now.

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Coming from a place that is so flat it’s called the Lowcountry (Charleston, SC,) I am utterly entranced by the mountains and don’t think I could ever live in a flat-terrained landscape again. To have the option of 81 beaches and countless mountain hikes through all sorts of terrain (rainforest, ridge, jungle, desert, pine forest, volcanic crater, etc) all within 727 square miles is… well, indescribable. I suppose that’s why they call it Unreal Hawaii… I’ve never experienced any place in the world that can even come close to it.

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So. This Thanksgiving week, I am grateful for the incredible reality of Maui — and the privilege of getting to call it home for awhile. And sunny, 80-degree warmth year-round. And the ability to snorkel in turquoise, crystal-clear water all morning and then, after just a short drive, be transported to the entirely different — but equally beautiful — world of this Pine Forest. This island fully awakens and engages every one of the five senses and makes a person feel vibrantly alive and connected to the energy of the land — maybe this is why the life expectancy here is so high 🙂

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I love the dreamlike perspective of these images, with the towering pines captured in motion, painting the sky with their branches.

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The Pine Forest leads to the Waihou Spring Trail, where the types and colors of the trees change and the forest continues down the jagged side of a cliff.
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My absolute favorite part of the Waihou Spring trail is the end, where colorful rocks litter the forest floor and a sheer, moss-coated cliff face is marked with numerous small “caves.” Pine Forest-33 Pine Forest-34
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After the hike, I sat on the piney blanket and watched the shadows chase each other across the forest floor. Even though I was tucked deep away, I could tell when the sun neared its journey toward the horizon by the chill in the air. Time to go home.Pine Forest-32
As I wound my way back down the mountain, the view opened up to this stunning sight. My camera was dead… Yet another thing to be grateful for — a phone with a 16 megapixel camera. 20141123_173351_1

              ** Like these images? You can now bring a piece of Hawaiian Magic (captured with Gypsy flair) into your own home. Most images in my blog posts will be available for order in print or canvas form via my Gypsy Photography Shop on Etsy. Click on an image in a blog post that you like to be taken directly to its shop listing, or browse all of the art pieces on the main Storefront. Perfect for gift giving… just in time for the Holidays!!

How to Get to the Pine Forest and the Waihou Spring Trail:
1. Get yourself to Maui
2. Drive to Makawao, Maui’s historic (and ever-so-charming) cowboy town
3. At the main (and really the only) intersection of Makawao, turn to head up Olinda Road toward the mountains (Olinda Road runs right alongside Polli’s Mexican Restauraunt.)
4. Follow Olinda Road around until you come to the dirt parking area on the right (just after the bird sanctuary). Use caution while driving on Olinda Road, as it is narrow and curvy and the beautiful views can be highly distracting.