Don't Look Down!
Kapalua's Mountain Outpost takes adventure to new--gulp!--heights.
Photos by Matthew Thayer
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Heart pounding and palms sweating, I climbed to balance alone atop a thirty-two-foot-tall telephone pole. My only lifeline was a single rope secured to a harness at the middle of my back as I stood on the ten-inch-diameter pole and took aim at a trapeze hanging seven feet away.
The Kapalua Adventures activity called Leap of Faith is aptly named. It takes faith in yourself, the equipment and the guide to leap off that pole when there’s nothing but the ground below. No nets, no pond. Just dirt—and the upturned faces of your expectant family and new friends. I’ve learned not to hesitate in these situations. Each second to think makes it that much harder. I gathered myself to jump, then stopped to rebalance. Gulp. “These guys must know what they are doing,” I thought as I flung myself into the mountain air.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Kapalua was known worldwide as a place where well-heeled clientele landed in search of quiet relaxation. Paradise was poolside mai tais, and lying in the coco-buttered sun until your tan sizzled to perfection. If you had suggested back then that guests strap on a harness, climb to the top of a tall pole and leap off, they would probably have given you the same look as if you had asked them to hold a live chicken on their lap while dining on chateaubriand at the Bay Club.
How times have changed. Many guests now arrive looking for thrills. They long to explore, to get off the beaten path and experience Maui’s hidden spots. High in the meadows and forest above Kapalua is the seaside resort’s answer to this relatively recent travel phenomena.
Kapalua Adventures’ Mountain Outpost includes eight state-of-the-art parallel zip-lines, a ropes course, four-station climbing tower, swing, a lift system called the Zipperlifter, and the longest suspension bridge in the State of Hawai‘i. Picture a layout that thrill-seeking kids might dream up in their wildest imaginations. Zip-lines crisscross deep gulches and skim above fields for nearly two miles. Guests are challenged with the Leap of Faith and Giant Swing.
It was a bright, sunny day when wife Kelly and I took our kids here to celebrate son Mark’s sixteenth birthday. We had all heard about the new eco-adventure tour and were eager to try it out.
The sense that this gallivant would be unique set in about the same time we climbed aboard an ungainly Mercedes-Benz Unimog for our twenty-minute ride from the Adventure Center to the Mountain Outpost. The tall, all-purpose German truck, complete with an opening in the roof for a gun turret, may have served the military or a farmer in its past life, but has since been converted by Kapalua Adventures into a twenty-person carrier that runs on biodiesel.