After months of reading about the options to get to Kalaupapa, I gathered the great courage to sign up for the mule ride and was so happy that we did. I am a big chicken when it comes to heights and the fact that I hadn't been on a horse for more than forty years and my husband had never been on a mule, donkey or horse made me hesitant to do the ride.
After signing up before we left home (glad we did as the tour is kept small and sells out quickly), I finished reading "Molokai" by Brennart, which is good historical fiction about the settlement. After we arrived in Molokai, we viewed the area from the lookout, stopped by the ranch to see the well cared for mules and talked to people in town about the trip. "Trust the Mules" is the advice we got over and over again.
There were nine of us on the trip and three competent and friendly guides. The trip down took 1 1/2 hours after being made comfortable in the saddle. We wore long pants and running shoes. We took a light day pack with water and snacks as lunch was not served til after 1:00pm. We wore layers as it had been windy and cool in the morning. On the 1 hr trip back, I didn't wear my windbreaker. We wore hats as the sun is strong even on cloudy days. If you do not have a light pack, there are small saddle bags on the mules to hold snacks and beverages. Upon arrival, we boarded a very old school bus and Norman took us to the churches, graves and bookstore. He kindly gave us lots of information and answered our questions. Unfortunately, there were some people who had flown in and rudely talked, but others on the bus shushed them. The hikers joined the flyers and mule riders on this tour.
Lunch was fine. I was happy with the fresh assemble yourself sandwich. I doubt I would have wanted more than a sandwich, bag of chips and small sweet snack until I got topside.
Although we do a lot of hiking, our senior knees would not have been OK with the climb.
The scenery was awesome. We are happy we took the tour. The next day, we felt like we had been bike riding for the first time of the season, but that feeling only lasted a day. If you have very bad knees, hips or back, you may not want to do the mule ride.
It was a full day and the cost was fair. The mules did not have an odor.