By Ilima Loomis
Maui News reporter Ron Youngblood had heard the stories about late-night drivers who picked up a lonely female hitchhiker, only to have her turn out to be Pele. But he wasn’t thinking about these tales, he says, when he was driving home through Haliimaile around 3 a.m. after a party, and stopped for a woman walking along the side of the road.
“Without a word, the woman opened the door and climbed into the back seat,” Youngblood says. He asked her, “Where you going, Aunty?” and the woman motioned up the road. After driving a ways in silence, Youngblood said he felt a sudden chill, and his arms “erupted in chicken skin.”
When he glanced in the rearview mirror, the back seat was empty.
Another well-known Maui resident, comedian and storyteller Kathy “Tita” Collins, says Wailuku’s Iao Valley is, to her, the most eerie place on the island. “Growing up, the spooky place was Iao Valley. Everybody says Iao has night marchers.” The dead-end gorge is reputedly haunted from a famously bloody battle in 1790. So many of Maui’s warriors died that the river was choked with corpses, and the battle came to be called Kepaniwai, or damming of the waters.