Pololu Trail

Pololu Trail

 

The Pololu trail is maybe my favorite hike on the Big Island.  And I love the hiking here.   But there’s something special about a hike that includes wild pigs, rapelling because an earthquake took out a section of the trail, a valley sprinkled with heiau, and killer views.

 

Supposedly there is sort of a network of trails (and some bushwhacking) that connect the Pololu trail up with the Waimanu Valley trail that exists at Waipio Valley.  The route goes over ten ridges and valleys.  That would be an amazing point to point hike.  Hmmm…

 

The view of Pololu beach at at the beginning of the hike.

The view of Pololu beach at the beginning of the hike.

Looking back into Pololu Valley. Except for the beach, it's all private property so no exploring back in there for me.

Looking back into Pololu Valley. Except for the beach, it’s all private property so no exploring back in there for me.

The forest right behind the beach at Pololu is surreal and sort of magical.

The forest right behind the beach at Pololu is surreal and sort of magical.

Top of the first ridge.

Top of the first ridge.

The only downside of being a hit the trail at first light kind of hiker is the damn spiders. l'm always ducking and dodging spider webs on my Hawaii hikes.  It's the only place I hike where I'm sort of relieved to see that someone is ahead of me on the trail. To you late risers who are asking, "what spider webs?!" You're welcome.

The only downside of hitting the trail at first light is the damn spiders. l’m always ducking and dodging spider webs on my Hawaii hikes.  It’s the only place I hike where I’m sort of relieved to see that someone is ahead of me on the trail. To you late risers who are asking, “what spider webs?!” You’re welcome.

I lucked out with mostly dry weather. Lots of time spent on my ass when hiking in the mud and rain in Hawaii!

I lucked out with mostly dry weather. Lots of time spent on my ass when hiking in the mud and rain in Hawaii!

I swear there is a trail in there somewhere.

I swear there is a trail in there somewhere.

About 300-400 feet of rappelling.

About 300-400 feet of rappelling into the next valley.

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I know they're probably more afraid of me than I am of them, but hearing a startled pig jump up from it's nap and start snorting, is disconcerting.

I know they’re probably more afraid of me than I am of them, but hearing a startled pig jump up from it’s nap and start snorting, is still disconcerting.

The narrow trail through the bamboo popped out into a stream...

  The narrow trail through the bamboo forest popped out into a stream.

...then just a ten minute walk down the stream to the beach.

…then just a ten minute walk down the stream to the beach at Honokane Nui Valley.

Very peaceful behind the beach.

Very peaceful behind the beach.

The only place I saw these flowers on the entire hike was on the ruins of a heiau (a Hawaiian temple) back in the valley.

The only place I saw these flowers on the entire hike was on these ruins of a heiau (a Hawaiian temple) back in the valley.

Parts of the trail were a little spooky looking.

Parts of the trail were a little spooky looking.

Back at Pololu Beach...

Back at Pololu Beach…

...and some chill time in a beach swing.

…and some chill time in a beach swing.

 

 

Posted in USA Travel

Kalalau Trail

Kalalau Trail

 

I’d been looking forward to backpacking the Kalalau trail after seeing the Napali coast from Ke e’ Beach fifteen years ago. Doing the trip with my son-in-law, who is also one of my best friends, was magical. Well, magical and exhausting trying to keep up with him. Good thing I had the water filter or he might have ditched me : )

The hike is simply stunning. It follows the Napali coast for eleven miles, ending at a beautiful stretch of beach that has the sheer cliffs of the Napali rising three thousand feet above the valley. Paradise.

We made it to the beach in about seven hours. If I hadn’t been slowing down my son-in-law, he’d have been there a few hours sooner.

We lucked out with the weather. Completely dry both ways. We’d planned to spend a couple nights but a storm was coming in so we left the next afternoon. We found out a downpour was likely because another camper was going from campsite to campsite letting folks know in just a nervous enough way that most of the campground had cleared out by noon.   Which made for a peaceful, yet sorta erie vibe.   The rain itself wouldn’t have been a big deal but lots of rain makes the river crossings unsafe.   A little before 3pm we both decided an early departure made sense.  And I think we were both excited to experience the trail again.   I’d have just waited out the rain any other time but my daughters were coming in the following day and I didn’t want to risk missing a second of my time with them.

Just a few thoughts after letting the trip settle:

  • It’s def one of my fav hikes. Looking forward to doing it again in a year or two. And I’ll stay a few more nights next time.
  • Pack light! My pack was around fifteen pounds and that included a full frame camera Leica Q and a Sony RX100. In hindsight, I’d just take the Sony.
  • There’s plenty of water along the trail. I steripen’ed a liter that I drank immediately and treated another liter to drink till the next water stop. I was plenty hydrated.
  • It was my first time using a hammock backpacking and I’ll never use a tent again if there’s a place to string up a hammock. Way more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.
  • The helicopters suck. No way around that for me. Still an amazing trip but the constant noise from 9-5pm got old.
  • Never a good idea to leave valuables in your car at the trailhead.  Not as bad as it used to be, but break-ins still occur.  We stored our stuff for the rest of the trip at Kayak Kauai in Napa’a.  Super friendly people and it was $7/day.

I’m looking forward to a return trip in the next year or two.

Enjoy the photos.

Aloha.

Looking into the Kalalau Valley from Kokee State Park.

Looking into the Kalalau Valley from Kokee State Park.

 

Ke e' Beach from the first overlook on the Kalalau trail.

Ke e’ Beach from the first overlook on the Kalalau trail.

Every step of the trail is stunningly beautiful.

Every step of the trail is stunningly beautiful.

Sitting at the beach at the two mile point taking a break when this hiker stepped into the frame to make this shot.

Sitting at the beach at the two mile point taking a break when this hiker stepped into the frame to make this shot.

...speaking of the ocean at Hanakapi'ai, don't even think of swimming here or even standing ankle deep in the surf when the surfs up. Over 80 people have drowned so far. Mostly I think govt warnings are overstated but I'm a believer on this one.believer

…speaking of the ocean at Hanakapi’ai, don’t even think of swimming here or even standing ankle deep in the surf when the surfs up. Over 80 people have drowned so far. Mostly I think govt warnings are overstated but I’m a believer on this one.

Incredible views around every bend in the trail.

Incredible views around every bend in the trail.

My new profile pic.

My new profile pic.  Thanks Jonathan.

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My view for much of the hike…I think Jonathan would have finished a good two hours before me.

You can barely make out Jonathan on the edge as he rounds the bend.

You can barely make out Jonathan on the edge as he rounds the bend.

More fun to take pictures of than to wade through on the trail first thing in the morning. Catching spider webs with your face is just part of early morning hiking in Hawaii.

More fun to take pictures of than to wade through on the trail first thing in the morning. Catching spider webs with your face is just part of early morning hiking in Hawaii.

At this point, a mile or so from Kalalau Beach, I'm dragging ass while Jonathan is running the last bit of the hike. Bastard.

At this point, a mile or so from Kalalau Beach, I’m dragging ass while Jonathan is running the last bit of the hike. Bastard.

The last stream crossing before the end of the hike.

The last stream crossing before the end of the hike.

This sunset made every single step of the hike worth it.

This sunset made every single step of the hike worth it.

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Jonathan getting his yoga on.

Some philosophy is more relative than others depending on the moment.

Some philosophy is more relative than others depending on the moment.

 

Best place to shower on the island.

Best place to shower on the island.

Evening walk on the beach.

Evening walk on the beach.

We made it back to trailhead at 9pm after getting started six hours earlier. Exhausted and exhilarated. And fast asleep a few hours later after a celebratory meal of doritos and beer.

We made it back to trailhead at 9pm after getting started six hours earlier.  Hiking the last couple hours at night was actually awesome.  The rats were a bit creepy but it’s a different place at night.  Exhausted and exhilarated. And fast asleep a few hours later after a celebratory meal of doritos and beer.

Another view from a different lookout at Kokee State Park. The hiking up there is amazing. If you do no other hike in your life, the last 100 meters of the Awaawapuhi trail is amazing - a foot wide trail that plunges straight down two thousand feet on both sides. I made it the first third of that last 100 meters but the gusting winds of 40-60MPH snapped me back to reality and I turned around and scampered back to safety.

Another view of Kalalau Valley from a different lookout at Kokee State Park. The hiking up there is amazing. If you do no other hike in your life, the last 70 meters of the Awaawapuhi trail is amazing – a foot wide trail that plunges straight down two thousand feet on both sides. I made it the first third of that last 70 meters but the gusting winds of 40-60MPH snapped me back to reality and I turned around and scampered back to safety.

Posted in USA Travel

Denver Refugee Protest

Denver Refugee Protest

 

Saturday night I protested Trump’s ban on Muslims and refugees at Denver Int’l Airport. I photographed refugees, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sufis, black people, white people, brown people, LGBT folks and many others…all patriots. I loved that the people gathered to protest Trump’s cruel and unconstitutional ban on Muslims and refugees looked like America. The United States is not a dozen rich white men surrounding the president as he signs cruel, unconstitutional, inhumane executive orders.

 
Hearing former refugees, now US citizens, speak about what they went through to get here moved me to tears. Their stories of family members who didn’t make it out being killed was heart wrenching. Their stories of relatives facing death because of Trump’s ban on refugees made me cry. But hearing these former refugees stories of starting businesses, and that their children attended college here and pursued their dreams in America, that was joyful. And from Omar, the Denver restaurant owner for over thirty years, came the pointed observation that he has probably paid more in taxes than Trump has in the last twenty years. These people are my country. I reject completely the policy of hatred and divisiveness that Trump promotes.

 
Refugees go through an extensive 18-24 month vetting process before they come here. They are people, often small children who have lost everything and literally have nowhere to go. Some of them will die if they aren’t allowed to immigrate here. Some of them are refugees because of our actions in the Middle East. They aren’t terrorists. You want to create terrorists, though? Do exactly what Trump is doing – demonize an entire religion and persecute them. This is insanity. We are better than this as a country.

 
Trump is only supported by a third of this country. We can take back our country. We need to call our reps on at least a weekly basis, we must show up at protests, and donate to groups fighting Trump’s hatred. It’s our country. If you’re in CO, Senator Cory Gardner is vulnerable. He is a Republican in a more blue than red state. Call him and show up at his public appearances. The same with Rep Mike Coffman. He is in a competitive district. Push him to do the right thing. And do yourself a favor and go to a protest for refugees, or women’s rights, or LGBT rights, or immigrant rights…there’s no shortage of marches with Trump as president. Every time I do this, my belief in humanity soars.

 
Thank you to the Denver Police for a measured, calm, and un-militarized presence. And a huge thank you to Denver mayor Hancock for instructing the DPD to allow the protest despite the requirement for a permit.

 
* Having participated in and photographed quite a few protests over the years, I have yet to encounter the mythical “paid protester” that the far right alleges.

 

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Amen to that!

Amen to that!

...and you were here first : )

…and you were here first : )

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Yes, we do!

Yes, we do!

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Hearing her story of relatives who were refugees who had been killed was heartbreaking...

Hearing her story of relatives who were refugees who had been killed was heartbreaking…

......and the protesters were moved by her story. This may be my favorite photo. The humanity in her face moves me cry as I type this. I believe the hate and fear of refugees is just ignorance. If the far right could hear these stories, they would be just as moved.

……and the protesters were moved by her story. This may be my favorite photo. The humanity in her face moves me cry as I type this. I believe the hate and fear of refugees is just ignorance. If the far right could hear these stories, they would be just as moved.

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I know Trump doesn't read but I sure wish he'd read this.

I know Trump doesn’t read but I sure wish he’d read this.

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So...we were in part able to protest at DIA without a permit because we were waiting for a dude named Omar to arrive on his flight. And It was beautiful. Five hundred people waiting to greet Omar (who had no idea we were there). Pouring out the love for someone most of us didn't know...

So…we were in part able to protest at DIA without a permit because we were waiting for a dude named Omar to arrive on his flight. And It was beautiful. Five hundred people waiting to greet Omar (who had no idea we were there). Pouring out the love for someone most of us didn’t know…

...and Omar walking out to his welcome home party!

…and Omar walking out to his welcome home party!

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I loved hearing his story of immigrating to the US and then marrying a Cambodian-Americam. He is America to me.

I loved hearing his story of immigrating to the US and then marrying a Cambodian-Americam. He is America to me.

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Omar who owns several Syrian restaurants in Denver. And pays more taxes than Trump.

Omar who owns several Syrian restaurants in Denver. And pays more taxes than Trump.

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This.

This.

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This citizen, originally from Afghanistan, was simply beautiful. His eloquence, grace and dignity are what I aspire to. He is who we need leading this country.

This citizen, originally from Afghanistan, was simply beautiful. His eloquence, grace and dignity are what I aspire to. He is who we need leading this country.

The humanity and understanding shared between these two just cracks my heart open. This is America.

The humanity and understanding shared between these two just cracks my heart open. This is America.

Posted in Humanitarian

Colorado Space Business Roundtable

Colorado Space Business Roundtable

 

 

I always enjoy shooting for the CSBR.  It’s wonderful being around so many brilliant people who are following their passion and who are also trying to make the world a better place. This was summed up perfectly by one of the speakers, “If we do this and make money that’s great, but if we don’t make the world a better place, it will be for naught”. And hearing people my age talking about space exploration with the passion and love of a child looking through their first telescope is pretty awesome.   I always leave at the end of a CSBR photo shoot feeling more hopeful.

 

 

A little chilly start to the day.

A chilly start to the day.

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Worth mentioning that CU also finished the season at #10 in football. Go Buffs!

Worth mentioning that CU also finished the season at #10 in football : )    Go Buffs!

I'm always struck by two things when I shoot an event for the CSBR. First, how wicked smart they are. But even more so that it's not just business or even people doing what they love. But that so many of the people I meet and hear on these panels are trying to make the world a better place.

I’m always struck by two things when I shoot an event for the CSBR. First, how wicked smart they are. But even more so that it’s not just business or even people doing what they love. But that so many of the people I meet and hear on these panels are trying to make the world a better place.  I always leave at the end of the day feeling more hopeful.

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My good friend Joe Rice on panel discussing the election's impact on the space industry in Colorado.

My good friend Joe Rice on a panel discussing the election’s impact on the space industry in Colorado.

Major General (Ret) Jay Lindell speaking on the CSBR report card.

Major General (Ret) Jay Lindell speaking on the CSBR report card.

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Stacey DeFore presenting the Cosmic Contributor Award.

Stacey DeFore presenting the Cosmic Contributor Award.

George Sparks, the CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science welcoming the CSBR.

George Sparks, the CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science welcoming the CSBR.

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Dr. Robert Braun from CU giving the key note speech.

A reference to a certain recent tweet about Boeing, I think : )

A reference to a certain recent tweet about Boeing, I think : )

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I was struck by the emphasis on working towards a more humane world.

I was moved by the emphasis on working towards a more humane world.

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Robert Chambers speaking about getting to Mars.

Robert Chambers speaking about getting to Mars.

Posted in Uncategorized