The Hiker Headline

Hiking and human connections have helped the Maui restaurant owner stay sober and committed to a brighter future.

Travis Morrin

→ By Stacey Makiya


In 2016, Travis Morrin went from a crushing low to an unimagined high, followed by a second plunge that took years to claw back from. “I received the news you most dread as a restaurant owner: There’s a fire,” he recalls. “When I arrived on scene, all I could see was smoke and firefighters shooting water through the roof.”


Three’s Bar & Grill in Kīhei, the restaurant Morrin owns with two friends, lost its kitchen to the blaze. It took 40 days of rebuilding before it reopened. Shortly afterward, Food Network’s Guy Fieri featured the eatery on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives—and business exploded by 25%. Morrin and his friends took off on a hell-yeah surf trip to Fiji. “I was feeling on top of the world,” he says. “Waves were epic, the boys and I were cruising … and amazing food filled our spirits and stomachs.” The crash that followed was his own doing. A recovering alcoholic who’d been sober for four years, Morrin made a spur-of-the-moment decision to celebrate with one drink.


He relapsed.


“I went into the depths of the crater and it was a complete spiritual experience.”

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Photos: Aaron K. Yoshino

It would be two years before Morrin would call himself sober again. This time the stakes were higher. The partners had opened more restaurants—and then the pandemic hit. “It was a nightmare. I knew if I messed up, we would lose everything,” he says. “I needed to be at 100% to support them and my staff. If I made it the first 90 days, I knew I would be all right.”


Now the Maui local is three years sober. Participating in recovery rituals helped, but a newfound hunger for hiking—which led to travel, photography and human connection—was life-changing. Simply put, the natural highs brought him joy and changed his narrative. “I was 33 the first time I went to Haleakalā,” says Morrin, now 35. “I went into the depths of the crater and it was a complete spiritual experience. A giant cradle embraced me, and I could hear the sound of silence—a gentle buzz that fills your being.”


As inspiring as his story is, Morrin knows he will always live with the shadow of alcoholism. The disease took his mother’s life when she was 53. “I don’t want the same ending,” he says. “I’m still finding out my recipe for happiness—some ingredients work and some don’t. I take it day by day.”

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