Hamilton Pool

Let’s face it: What I’d really like is my own cave behind a waterfall. With tapestries and a hand-carved desk of antique oak…

What might actually be within my grasp: A swim at Hamilton Pool. Or maybe just a hike. I think “swim” and then I remember this is Texas, and we have deadly snakes and scorpions and things, and I’m less enamored of the idea of swimming with them. I don’t have scales, just skin, and it gets goosebumps just thinking of taking off the hiking boots and plunging into unknown depths.

But isn’t it gorgeous?

I’ve told some of you the story of how I met a young man on Oahu during a trip with family, then looked him up the next time I went to Hawaii on my own. He gamely acted as my guide, both on my arrival and the day before I left, and put up with my haole city-girl whining. I arrived with a nasty cold, and it was K who introduced me to the best hot and sour soup on the planet. It was so hot it knocked the wind – and the cold virus – right out of me. It was K who endured my exhausted babbling as I dozed off halfway back to my hotel – and kept right on talking. We sat on the lawn of the Royal Hawaiian, talking and looking at the stars, and both of us fell asleep – only to be rudely awakened by the sprinklers coming on, the next morning. Amazingly, in spite of that, the soup – and I’m sure it had to be the soup – had cured my cold and I felt wonderful. I joined my tour group, and K promised to show me more of the sights near Honolulu when we returned.

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t keep in touch after I left. K took me to a little waterfall known primarily to the locals. I have had to search and search, because I could not remember its name, but I finally found it!

Maunawili Falls

No, really, that muddy trail with its gnarled tree roots is as awful as it looks. My feet still ache with the memory, and it has been nearly 35 years since I hiked that. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful – no doubt, much moreso if you’re not hiking it with a tenderfoot spoilsport who’s grumbling over mud, kukui nuts, tree roots, hot sticky humid sweat, ice cold mountain stream water, and whatever else there was to grumble over. The water at the base of the falls looked so refreshing! I was eager to wash some of the thick mud off my body, so I stripped off my shirt and jeans (I was wearing a bathing suit underneath, of course!) – tried to find one square foot of space that wasn’t muddy to put them down on, and failed. Never mind – they were muddy already, anyway. I jumped into the little round pool of fresh, deep water.

Oh, my God, is it frigid! It is so cold it burns. It will knock the breath from your lungs and make you cry for mama. I have no idea how deep the pool is, but I didn’t manage to touch bottom. I didn’t climb to the top ledge and leap off like the locals, although I doubt I’d have risked death in doing so – it’s very deep. I suppose I might have frozen to death before I could gasp for air at the surface.

Poor K. He knew he was giving the tourist a rare treat, but I only saw torment. We didn’t speak much after that.

By the time I got back to my hotel room to pack for the trip home, the mud had mostly dried (it was ankle deep in some spots), and I tossed both my jeans and my tennis shoes in the trash. I think housekeeping rescued them – the maid asked me if it was a mistake, if I’d meant to toss them in the trash, and all I could think was, “How am I supposed to pack wet, muddy jeans and shoes for the flight home?” I was too tired to ask about a laundromat.

It was probably a good three months later before I was grudgingly able and willing to admit that the hike and quick, icy dip in the falls was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life. That experience taught me to at least try to enjoy the moment, even if some part of me would rather be sipping a Tahitian Itch on Waikiki beach.




Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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16 thoughts on “Hamilton Pool”

  1. Hold out for the cave, with a wine cellar. And small, not too cold or hot bathing pool. The waterfall acts as a shower. You’ll need a desk, yes… and a kitchenette, too — to make things. Do not forget the hammock, and the soft music. (I think you know my taste in music. Some 50 songs, from a Certain Singer, and the original cover versions of course.) Some soft light blankets would help. Both bright and soft mood lighting. A handy cat would be nice. I appear to have weird tastes. Your mileage may vary.

    1. Hahahah… oh, Pete. Yes, a wine cellar would be lovely. Kitchen, necessary. Hammock? Grand idea! Rock floors are rather hard and a bit lumpy, unless they are properly surfaced. Music? Maybe – mostly classical. None from “certain singer” unless she’s now following you. Is there such a thing as a “handy cat”? Maybe – provided it catches vermin and leaves the tropical songbirds alone. It may have all the cave bats. Good idea. Thanks for all your suggestions! (Another idea – move into Petra. But then I’d have to install a waterfall.)
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Hamilton PoolMy Profile

      1. I assumed the floor would have been worked on (grinded down), and covered with some nice oriental carpets. The cat is for comfort & company. Well, the music is for your tastes. As for me, I am rather addicted to A Certain Voice, and to the music of the 60’s to 80’s. A cat can at least look at a king/princess. And HER Majesty, IS.

        But when working, If I want something quiet to listen to, I often use this:
        They have a number of other pieces, a few of which I really like.
        (I’m not into MegaDeath or Game of Thrones, etc.)
        TRY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n2dGwYcp9k
        or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pbueXsNb-Y
        or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAxdlPZ37Gc
        or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCAl-MHxJeA
        or their latest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v6bIGNWuVk
        Those are their best. But you may have other tastes…..

    1. I have only wished, over the years, that I could have gotten in touch to admit to K how much fun the trek really was, and to express my gratitude more wholeheartedly. I guess that was another lesson – remember that what may seem less than awesome at the time may turn out to be a fond memory a decade or more later. It’s hard to convince people of that until they’ve had such an experience, though. I think we parents try, but kids are hard pressed to believe us. Funny about time and perspective, isn’t it?

  2. Love the story behind the photos! I followed the link to Hamilton Pool – it looks simply stunning 🙂 x

    1. It’s only a few hours’ drive from where I live, and believe it or not, we’ve not spent any time exploring Austin, so I’m thinking my husband and I could use a little weekend getaway, soon, to do just that. Whether I actually swim in it or just take pictures may be a question unresolved until I get there. Also, they don’t let many people in at one time, so it’s recommended to get there early.

  3. I’ve never heard of Hamilton Pool. It looks really beautiful, really amazing. I would definitely not get in it but it’s gorgeous. The wild life in Texas is really something. I don’t like finding geckos in my house. I miss the East Coast. Right now, I’d love to be able to drive to the beach.

    Ok I’m all caught up now! 🙂

    1. Katie tried to go, but they went too late and the line of cars full of people hoping to get in was apparently too long. As for the geckos – be glad of them. They don’t bite, won’t hurt you at all, but they do eat bugs – mosquitoes, spiders, all sorts of BUGS. So enjoy the little geckos! Unfortunately, they do not eat snakes…
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Hamilton PoolMy Profile

  4. Great story! It reminded me of jumping into pools in Thailand, Australia, and other places. They’re much more fun than swimming pools. Did see a water snake once, but was told it was harmless.
    Nick Wilford recently posted…J is for JejuneMy Profile

    1. Probably not harmless, but in that part of the world, if it bites you, you die quickly. 😉

      Odds are, it just wasn’t aggressive. I count on that – that, and not surprising anything. Surprised, frightened creatures are the most dangerous.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Hamilton PoolMy Profile

  5. I’ll have to ask middle son who lives in Houston and whose girlfriend’s parents live in Austin if he has heard about Hamilton Pool.

    If not, I will have the pleasure of telling him. Thanks! I sent him the link. It looks gorgeous. And the photos are stunning.

    Thank goodness for photos and the internet – so many places I’ll never get to in person are just a little bit closer.

    My grandmother always said, “You learn something new every day,” and it tickled her when she found that new thing. This was mine, today.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…From PLAN to PUBLISHED, writers make events HAPPENMy Profile

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