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Thomas on Islands | profile | all galleries >> ==Molokai Albums== >> Living History: Mule Ride to Kalaupapa, Molokai tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Don't worry, you are not lost | West and Central Molokai | Living History: Mule Ride to Kalaupapa, Molokai | South-East Molokai

Living History: Mule Ride to Kalaupapa, Molokai

Mule Ride to Kalaupapa, former leper colony on Molokai
The history of Kalaupapa Peninsula is one of humanity most epic stories about suffering and sacrifice. Quite recently, in 1969 the isolation laws of Kalaupapa have been abolished, and 1980 Kalaupapa has been turned into a National Park with a restricted access for limited number of visitors. There are still a few patients living in Kalaupapa.

Nature shaped the peninsula into a natural prison without chances for an escape. The original colony was located in Kalawao on the west side of the peninsula. This is where the ships with infected people arrived, unloaded patients and left them to care for themselves. The east side colony in Kalaupapa was created later. Today only the Kalaupapa side is still populated. With the exception of the churches, Kalawao does not exist anymore.

Even nowadays it is difficult to access the peninsula from Molokai's uplands. One famous way to see the colony is a strenuous Mule Ride, which takes visitors on an approx. 1700'/518m descent along a narrow path with 26 turns. This is not the original path which was used on the west side in the time of Father Damien and R. W. Meyer, who owned the uplands over the peninsula. The east path to Kalaupapa was hand carved 1907 by a Portuguese immigrant Manuel Farinha who hung from ropes to complete the task.

The Mule Ride is a very individual experience, which most of us will never forget. Especially the non-riders... The path is narrow and some of the mules tend to walk on its very edge. My mule named Koa used to make sudden movements and liked to turn so late that I thought a few times, now we are going over the cliff... Not so, stay calm! A good advise given to us was: "Trust your mule, it does it twice a day, 6 times a week and it will also return home."

Once arriving on the beach of Kalaupapa, mules stay in a corral and a bus takes visitors to selected stops in Kalaupapa. From there a ride across the peninsula leads to Kalawao, where are the famous St. Philomena Church and Father Damien's original resting place. In Kalawao tour guide serves a lunch to visitors, what concludes the visit. After the return to the corral, visitors rejoin their mules. The climb to uplands of Molokai appears much easier, however the mules work visibly hard and break sweat.

C0275 Mules of Molokai
C0275 Mules of Molokai
C0277 Checkin
C0277 Checkin
P248 Instructions
P248 Instructions
C0287 Getting on Kimu
C0287 Getting on Kimu
P253 That's us, waiting for the begin
P253 That's us, waiting for the begin
C0296 Cool! Ready for the adventure...
C0296 Cool! Ready for the adventure...
P255 My mule was Koa, how can I forget?
P255 My mule was Koa, how can I forget?
C0298 Begin of the trail
C0298 Begin of the trail
P259 Begin of the trail
P259 Begin of the trail
C0304 Koa is the Mule Number Two
C0304 Koa is the Mule Number Two
C0305 Group behind us
C0305 Group behind us
C0306 Stop for food!
C0306 Stop for food!
P260 Moving toward the cliffs
P260 Moving toward the cliffs
C0308 Sign marking entry to the National Park
C0308 Sign marking entry to the National Park
P261 1st glance of Kalaupapa below
P261 1st glance of Kalaupapa below
C0309 Begin of the descent
C0309 Begin of the descent
C0313 Even more warning signs
C0313 Even more warning signs
C0314 Stunning view opens up
C0314 Stunning view opens up
P263 Stunning view opens up
P263 Stunning view opens up
C0317 Kalaupapa
C0317 Kalaupapa
C0318 Narrow path
C0318 Narrow path
C0320 Town of Kalaupapa
C0320 Town of Kalaupapa
C0323 Descent
C0323 Descent
C0324 Breathtaking
C0324 Breathtaking
C0325 Head to the peninsula...
C0325 Head to the peninsula...
C0330 Head away from it, 26 times
C0330 Head away from it, 26 times
C0333 Seen from approx. half height
C0333 Seen from approx. half height
P266 Descent
P266 Descent
P270 Where the path is going to?
P270 Where the path is going to?
C0341 Spooky forest
C0341 Spooky forest
C0342 The path flattens
C0342 The path flattens
C0348  Arriving at the Beach
C0348 Arriving at the Beach
C0350 Old warning signs
C0350 Old warning signs
C0354 Shoreline behind us
C0354 Shoreline behind us
C0357 Ride along the beach
C0357 Ride along the beach
C0361 Our wranglers
C0361 Our wranglers
C0362 One of the Wranglers
C0362 One of the Wranglers
C0363 Time to relax and to talk
C0363 Time to relax and to talk
C0368 Even more warning signs
C0368 Even more warning signs
C0376 Finally at the corral
C0376 Finally at the corral
C0377 Getting off is not easy...
C0377 Getting off is not easy...
P273 Last mule with provisions
P273 Last mule with provisions
C0378 Corral
C0378 Corral
P274 Corral
P274 Corral
C0382 Our Bus, The trusty rusty
C0382 Our Bus, "The trusty rusty"
C0383 Who/what ate the bus?
C0383 Who/what ate the bus?
P337 A Scientific Dirt Test
P337 A Scientific Dirt Test
C0385 No Photography of People Allowed!
C0385 No Photography of People Allowed!
C0386 We wondered what might be inside?
C0386 We wondered what might be inside?
C0391 Oldtimer in the colony
C0391 Oldtimer in the colony
P277 Oldtimer
P277 Oldtimer
P278 A typical house of Kalaupapa
P278 A typical house of Kalaupapa
C0395 Grave of Mother Marianne Cope
C0395 Grave of Mother Marianne Cope
C0394 Marianne of Molokai
C0394 Marianne of Molokai
C0405 Marianne of Molokai
C0405 Marianne of Molokai
C0399 Central Kalaupapa
C0399 Central Kalaupapa
C0403 Ruins of the Hospital
C0403 Ruins of the Hospital
C0410 Local Caffee
C0410 Local Caffee
C0412 Congregational Church
C0412 Congregational Church
C0413 Postal Office
C0413 Postal Office
C0420 Saint Francis Catholic Church
C0420 Saint Francis Catholic Church
C0414 Mosaic with Marianne
C0414 Mosaic with Marianne
C0421 Saint Francis
C0421 Saint Francis
c0423 St.Francis
c0423 St.Francis
C0429 Saint Francis
C0429 Saint Francis
C0424 Saint Francis
C0424 Saint Francis
C0425 Saint Francis
C0425 Saint Francis
C0426 Saint Francis
C0426 Saint Francis
P313 Saint Francis
P313 Saint Francis
C0434 Damien and Marianne
C0434 Damien and Marianne
C0441 Local Store, off limit to visitors
C0441 Local Store, off limit to visitors
C0442 The only gas station, $2 per gallon
C0442 The only gas station, $2 per gallon
C0443 Congregational Church
C0443 Congregational Church
C0452 Business Hours in the bar
C0452 Business Hours in the bar
C0462 Museum and bookstore
C0462 Museum and bookstore
C0466 Kalawao and its famous churches
C0466 Kalawao and its famous churches
C0470 Book Store
C0470 Book Store
C0471 Getting Stamps at the self service Post Station
C0471 Getting Stamps at the self service Post Station
P366 New Water System
P366 New Water System
C0474 Road to Kalawao
C0474 Road to Kalawao
C0478 Simply stunningly beautiful
C0478 Simply stunningly beautiful
C0481 Hawaiian Heiau
C0481 Hawaiian Heiau
P377 Enroute to Kalawao
P377 Enroute to Kalawao
C0485 Siloama Church, 1st church in Kalawao
C0485 Siloama Church, 1st church in Kalawao
C0487 Old graveyard
C0487 Old graveyard
C0494 St.Philomena
C0494 St.Philomena
C0498  St.Philomena
C0498 St.Philomena
C0531 St.Philomena
C0531 St.Philomena
C0499 St.Philomena and Damien's grave
C0499 St.Philomena and Damien's grave
C0501 Sacred Heart Brothers Cemetery
C0501 Sacred Heart Brothers Cemetery
C0502 Grave of Father Damien
C0502 Grave of Father Damien
C0506 Grave of Father Damien
C0506 Grave of Father Damien
C0511 St.Philomena
C0511 St.Philomena
C0512 St.Philomena
C0512 St.Philomena
C0514 Gift from Belgian King
C0514 Gift from Belgian King
C0517 St.Philomena
C0517 St.Philomena
C0520 St.Philomena
C0520 St.Philomena
C0524 Damiens false coin detector
C0524 Damiens false coin detector
C0526 Across the cemetery toward Kalawao Bay
C0526 Across the cemetery toward Kalawao Bay
C0535 St.Philomena
C0535 St.Philomena
C0538 Kalawao
C0538 Kalawao
C0545 Leper landing site
C0545 Leper landing site
C0550 Our lunches
C0550 Our lunches
C0559 Back with our Mules
C0559 Back with our Mules
P418 Back with our Mules
P418 Back with our Mules
C0562 Getting ready for the departure
C0562 Getting ready for the departure
C0568 Riding Back
C0568 Riding Back
C0573 Same pack order: Koa is number two
C0573 Same pack order: Koa is number two
C0583 Ascent appeared easy
C0583 Ascent appeared easy
C0587 Last look of Kalaupapa
C0587 Last look of Kalaupapa
C0598 Path in front of us
C0598 Path in front of us
C0604 Done, last part on the road to stables
C0604 Done, last part on the road to stables
C0610 Even getting off was easier!
C0610 Even getting off was easier!