Maui — Eight Month Update

Trey Whitaker
7 min readMar 8

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Lahaina: green from the winter rains

Evidently, it’s still winter. The weather has been cooler with a steady diet of rain showers. The hillsides and fields that were parched and burned yellow from the constant summer sun are now a healthy green. Worries about droughts and water conservation have been replaced by talk of the wettest winter season in recent memory. During all this rainfall, I have learned my favorite island saying to date:

No rain, no rainbow.

No rain, no rainbow

Now when it rains, I think to myself, “It’s going to be a good day for rainbows.”

It’s also analogous to life: the most beautiful things in life come with challenges. These past weeks included a deluge of tears and we can only hope for countless rainbows to follow.

Mule team member at Haleakala National Park

Trail Steward Training:

The National Park Service recently provided three days of training for trail stewards. Much of it was as expected: radio protocol, park history and what to include in your backpack. For myself, the most interesting section covered Hawaiian history and culture.

The history of the Hawaiians is not unlike Indigenous Americans. Their land was taken by force. There were attempts to erase their heritage and language. Hundreds of thousands of native islanders died from diseases carried by European and American explorers.

Since it was signed at gunpoint, the constitution signed by King Kalakaua in 1887 was referred to as the ‘Bayonet Constitution’. Among other things, it restricted voting rights to land owners (most who were foreigners).

The United States annexed the islands in 1898. For many years, it was forbidden to speak the native Hawaiian language in schools. In fact, it was even illegal to give newborn children a Hawaiian first name.

These days, Olelo Hawaii is an official language of Hawaii. One of the instructors noted that the language isn’t just being preserved, but evolving. Why? She advised, “Languages must evolve or die.” Simply adopting new English words would, over time, cause the Hawaiian language to disappear.

The instructor used the English word ‘computer’ as an example. They have created a new word by combining the Hawaiian words for ‘electric’ and ‘brain’.

Haleakala National Park

Trail Steward Experiences:

The night before I head up to Haleakala to hike on the crater, I check four different forecast sites to get an idea of what the weather might hold. While they provide some insight, it’s really a wildcard. In these winter months, there have been days when I’ve gotten sunburned and others when it was raining sideways or even snowing.

I was recently hiking and came across a woman about my age sitting on the side of the trail. I asked how she was doing and she said, “I was feeling a little dizzy so my daughters decided to go ahead without me. I’m waiting for them to come back.” After ensuring that she was well, I continued down the trail toward the crater. About a half-mile down the path, I came across a couple women struggling back. I asked, “You guys wouldn’t happen to be looking for your mother?” They were thrilled to learn that she was okay and that they were on the correct path back to her.

There are always plenty of ‘wow’ moments on the crater. Each day the clouds, sunlight and shadows paint a different picture, but one of Haleakala’s greatest gifts is its quiet. The park is known as ‘the quietest place on Earth’. I will sometimes pause my hike to just sit and listen. During typical day-to-day life, there’s often so much noise that you need to filter out the clamor. On the crater, it’s very much the opposite. You need to actively search for sounds. A drip of water off the rocks. A bird chirping in the brush.

With no cell service, a hike at Haleakala is my time to walk, ponder and imagine while enjoying the quietest place on Earth.

The Magical Mystery Show with Bruce Gold

Island Events:

With no large arena or coliseum, we don’t see popular acts in their prime. Many star entertainers visit or live on the island, but most never entertain here. That said, there are still some interesting things going on.

We recently went to a Magical Mystery Show, listened to a talk given by humorist David Sedaris and watched a contemporary dance show by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

Next up, we’ll see The Doobie Brothers. They’re one of my all-time favorites. I still have one of their albums that I bought in 1972 when I was in middle school. The Doobie Brothers are now in their 70’s and on their 50th anniversary tour.

Artisan Ice Cream, Paia, Maui

Island Routine:

I get my monthly haircut in the town of Paia on the north shore. It’s considered a bit of a hippy, surfing town. A place where you wouldn’t want to shred anyone’s mellow.

During the monthly trip to Paia, I stop at my favorite shop for a bowl of one of their signature ice creams.

They ask if I want rainbow sprinkles and I laugh.

I say, ‘Well, of course.”

They ask, “How many?”

I reply, “All of them, please.”

They give me a very healthy serving.

I give them a big tip.

Whale Spotting:

In February, March and April, the Pacific Whale Foundation conducts a census of the whales that have migrated to Maui. As volunteering goes, this is a pretty sweet assignment. It involves sitting in a lawn chair and looking out at the ocean with a pair of binoculars. When you spot whales, you report on how many there were, what they were doing and where they were heading. In February, we counted 596 whales. The final census for this year will be on March 25th.

The CrossFit Open:

This was my 10th CrossFit Open and I’ve come to think of it like a physical exam. An annual physical is an assessment of your current state of health. After an exam, you have the information you need to move forward in a positive way. It’s really up to you as to whether you make any lifestyle adjustments.

The CrossFit Open is similar. It points out your strengths and your flaws. You then decide on whether to ignore or address the gaps.

So where do I stand?

My 9th Open in 2022 was an abject failure. I muddled my way through one workout and gave up. It was another sign that I needed to save myself. My health and fitness had been declining in recent years and my time was running out.

I took action by moving 5,000 miles away to a tropical island. Since arriving in Maui last July, I have been doing CrossFit four times a week plus lots of walking, hiking and biking.

So how did the Open go for 2023?

I’d hoped for better in 23.1, but improved over my admittedly dismal score from a decade ago. 23.2 went better than I expected, but 23.3 was a horror show. I had high hopes and things went nowhere.

So what did my CrossFit ‘physical’ tell me?

I’m pretty strong for an older athlete and my cardio is decent, but gymnastics is still a weak point.

Restarting CrossFit at Aloha Kihei CrossFit has been a big success. I’ve found a new, supportive community and, for the first time in years, my fitness and health have improved versus regressed.

Therefore, after a couple days of contemplation, I purchased new shoes to add running to my routine and did fifty kip swings after today’s class. By the time the 2024 CrossFit Open comes around, I’m going to be ready to rock my first year in the 65+ group.

Sunset in Kihei, Maui

Final thought:

These days, when vacationers drop into the gym, I try to help them feel comfortable by showing them where to find equipment, whiteboards and the like.

They will sometimes ask, “Where are you from?”

These days, I reply, “I live here.”

Aloha, mahalo and be well.

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Trey Whitaker

Former blogger, CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, marathoner, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now happily retired in Maui.