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Diary of a Maui Web Designer

Rappelling Down A Waterfall

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Rappel Maui - A Walk on the wild side

When building websites for clients, we do research to uncover what their business is all about. Only then can we go about creating the right look and style for their website; a look and style that reflects exactly who they are. Sometimes, research involves going into new uncharted territories… like rappelling down steep waterfalls.

We’re currently working on a new website for Rappel Maui. You may have heard of the owners – MJ Harden, Ken Schmitt and their General Manager, Dave Black. MJ and Ken are the ones that started Hike Maui a few decades ago. And Dave Black is famous in the canyoneering world. We hear he is “Rappelling Guru”.

mj harden and ken schmitt

Val TamuraOur mission was to get some good photos to use for the website. Our friends, Bob and Val Tamura, enthusiastically volunteered to be models and were first-timers to the sport. Glori (a guide from Hike Maui) and Ben also geared up and joined in – being their first time also. I was on the camera, capturing the day.

Dave Black started everyone off with a dry practice run. He went over all the safety gear; the ropes, anchor, carabiners, how to brake, how to step, where to put your hands… all sorts of things. It’s actually a pretty safe sport, but just watching everyone’s faces as they were about to take their first step off the cliff’s edge was exciting. You could see the excitement and the fear. And then finally the surrender to just do it. Go into auto-pilot and rappel down the face of a waterfall. Amazing!

Glori looks over the edge

Bob TamuraThe location of the valley is quite beautiful – nestled deep in the rain forest in an area called the Enchanted Garden. The hiking trails are private – built and used only by Rappel Maui. They provide all the gear necessary, including a waterproof backpack and water to drink. And after the excitement, the day ends with a great lunch. MJ mentioned that many people are too excited to eat right before rappelling – but afterwards, it’s a most welcome meal.

So, all this research has come in handy as now we are knee-deep in the designing and coding of the new Rappel Maui website. We’re doing something totally different for the Home page in hopes to share the excitement of rappelling, with a design where you can almost feel what it would be like to rappel down a waterfall deep in the valley of a Maui rain forest. We’re having a blast piecing this website together – because, let’s face it… rappelling is cool!


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