The voice on the telephone drawled but there was an undertone of excitement. "Found a new place. Nice little pool deep enough to dive without breaking your neck.
"Taking Chris for a little fun in the sun. Want to come along?" Before I could answer, Nick added: "Been there a couple times; no one else around. Really remote."
The place lived up to the billing. Nick's Maui cruiser limped down the dirt road aimed at the ocean. Parallel pasture fencing turned the one-laner into a rural alley, or maybe a driveway. No sign of life anywhere.
Nick dropped the right wheels of the car off the dirt, nearly rubbing the fencing on that side. Once the rackety engine was shut down the silence was deafening.
"Here we are," Nick announced. Here seemed to be nowhere. "The pool is over there," he said, gesturing off to the right.
We ducked through the barbed wire with towels and a small cooler. Nick found a footpath through the pasture grass. Five minutes later, we arrived at a small stream running freshly over a large, flat-topped basalt boulder. The water fell 6 feet or so off the pohaku into a pool maybe 10 yards across.
Nick immediately walked to the downhill edge of the boulder and hit the water below with a splash. On the left side of the pool was a footpath leading back to the top of the rock. He trudged up, sat down and brushed back his hair. "Ah. This is the life."
The three of us spent an afternoon without interruption. It was a time for easy conversation among friends, companionable silence and casual inroads made on the contents of the cooler. Sit and fry. Jump and cool. Repeat. It was a small adventure of the type that made the cost of living on Maui more than affordable.
The footpaths made it obvious others knew about and used the pool. The lack of trash and the long hours of solitude made it obvious those who knew were not many. Nick was shown the pool by a local who made him promise to keep its location a secret shared - if at all - with a small circle of friends.
For decades, that's the way Maui's hideaways were protected. Locals who knew kept the knowledge to themselves. Let the tourists have the beaches on the other side of the island. Local spots were for locals and trusted friends of locals. The knowledge was a kind of shared ownership, not so much of location but of a unique experience.
Experiencing special places on the island - a ridgeline, a way through a forest, unique views of the ocean, freshwater swimming holes - didn't always require tapping local knowledge. Roger Hawley was fearless when it came to translating a topographical map's wiggle of altitude lines into feet-on-the-ground exploration.
Up, down and sideways. It didn't matter to Hawley. He'd scramble through rocky streams, mountain goat up cliff sides and generally risk limb, if not life, far from any help.
He also liked to share particularly interesting locations with a sedentary columnist at The Maui News. He'd call, excitedly describe some discovery and hoomalimali the columnist into agreeing to a hike.
The adventures were never the same, but each yielded the grist for a column describing the adventure. If readers knew about the spot, the location was readily recognizable. If they didn't, the location was a mystery. No one had to tell me to keep unique island knowledge to myself.
One of the first "Conversation" shows on Hawaii Public Radio's KIPM 89.7 FM included an interview with a travel writer who aimed his book at hikers wanting to go off the beaten track. The interview prompted an email warning the show's producers they wouldn't win any friends on Maui by promoting the book.
A series of travel writers trying to top each other soon had tourists tromping around all the "local" spots. The worst of the books showed the way through private property and, sometimes, endangered tourists by luring them into hazardous areas and situations.
Tourists loved going home and telling everyone they'd had a Maui experience far beyond the island's beaches and shoreline waters. Locals arriving at one of "their spots" only to find it crowded with visitors ground their teeth and wanted to ban the books.
Broadcasting the location of natural hideaways was a violation of trust. There are some Maui experiences that should be earned, not just learned.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.