Category Archives: USA Travel

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.

 

 

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.

Stand With Standing Rock

Stand With Standing Rock

 

As I emerge from the shock of whom this country selected as their president, I am blown away by all the kindness and love I have seen since Tuesday. That people are choosing love as their response to hate blows my heart open. I’m with you.

 

Spending yesterday evening at another peaceful gathering in support of the water protectors at Standing Rock was inspiring. A huge thank you to the youth of Denver who organized this peaceful gathering. And a shout out to Colorado House Rep Joe Salazar for always being there for his community.   All of you give me hope.

 

Heading out from the state capitol.

Heading out from the state capital.

This is why we need to do everything we can for Standing Rock.

This is why we need to do everything we can for Standing Rock.

This may be my favorite image.

This may be my favorite image.

My guess is that at least a few people hanging out on the 16th Street Mall know what Standing Rock is now.

My guess is that at least a few people hanging out on the 16th Street Mall know what Standing Rock is now.

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Gotta love the enthusiasm from supporters as we passed by.

Gotta love the enthusiasm from supporters as we passed by.

All the way from Hawaii.

All the way from Hawaii.

Colorado State Rep Joe Salazar speaking after the march. It was, no bullshit, one of the most inspiring speeches I've heard in awhile.

Colorado State Rep Joe Salazar speaking after the march. It was, no bullshit, one of the most inspiring speeches I’ve heard in awhile.

Okay, maybe this is my fav photo : ) Love the passion and deep commitment to making this a better country...for everyone.

Okay, maybe this is my fav photo : )    I love the passion and deep commitment to making this a better country…for everyone.

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CO House Rep Joe Salazar addressing the crowd.

You always see the most amazing souls at these gatherings. Love you, my friend.

You always see the most amazing souls at these gatherings. Love you, my friend.

 

 

Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge

 

I was actually headed back to the peaceful protest up in Standing Rock but I only made it as far as Pine Ridge Reservation.   The people up in Standing Rock are fighting for clean water for all of us and I very much support their cause.  But I was drawn to seeing one of my heroes doing the day in, day out work of helping her people.   And I’m also drawn to Pine Ridge for its beauty, its history and the tragic reminder that we can do better as a country in how we treat others..

 

Sunrise on Pine Ridge.

Sunrise on Pine Ridge.

The Badlands on Pine Ridge. Most people visiting Pine Ridge are visiting the Badlands. And that's cool but I think they're missing something by not seeing more of the reservation. It's achingly beautiful and the people have always been the highlight of my visits.

The Badlands on Pine Ridge. Most people visiting Pine Ridge are visiting the Badlands. And that’s cool but I think they’re missing something by not seeing more of the reservation. It’s achingly beautiful and the people have always been the highlight of my visits.

My good friend Patty at remains of the home she grew up in on Pine Ridge. I love that she's on the in this photo. Whenever I'm hanging out with her she'll often be on the phone - arranging a dog rescue, helping someone out with a job or a favor, or running one of the businesses that she's helped create to serve her community. She's my role model in living a useful life.

My good friend Patty at the remains of the home she grew up in on Pine Ridge. I love that she’s on her phone in this photo. Whenever I’m hanging out with her she’ll often be on the phone – arranging a dog rescue, helping someone out with a job or a favor, or running one of the businesses that she’s helped create to serve her community. She’s my role model in living a useful life.

Not a bad view out the window of Patty's childhood home.

Not a bad view out the window of Patty’s childhood home.

An abandoned church on Pine Ridge.

An abandoned church on Pine Ridge.

The front door was locked so I walked around to the back of this abandoned church and the door was unlocked. I stepped into this time capsule, and aside from the mouse droppings, I was in a church from a different era.

The front door was locked so I walked around to the back of this abandoned church and the door was unlocked. I stepped into this time capsule, and aside from the mouse droppings, I was in a church from a different era.

I love the sense of humor on Pine Ridge. There are serious challenges that I can't quite comprehend, but everyone I meet has a wonderful, dry sense of humor. This "4 Rent" sign cracks me up.

I love the sense of humor on Pine Ridge. There are serious challenges that I can’t quite comprehend, but everyone I meet has a wonderful, dry sense of humor. This “4 Rent, needs work” sign cracks me up.

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A caring mom, an adorable baby and a horse.  My idea of a perfect photo.

Sunset in Oglala on Pine Ridge.

Sunset in Oglala on Pine Ridge.

Out in the Badlands.

Out in the Badlands.

Fresh oil and some air in the tires and we're set.

Fresh oil and some air in the tires and we’re set.

Wounded Knee cemetery on Pine Ridge. The juxtaposition of the Wounded Kneee Memorial honoring the 300+ Sioux, including woman and children, massacred by the United States Army with all the grave markers honoring the Native American Veterans who have served this country is almost too much.

Wounded Knee cemetery on Pine Ridge. The juxtaposition of the Wounded Kneee Memorial honoring the 300+ Sioux, including woman and children, massacred by the United States Army with all the grave markers honoring the Native American Veterans who have served this country is almost too much to take in.

I have yet to see a sunset on Pine Ridge that wasn't stunning.

I have yet to see a sunset on Pine Ridge that wasn’t stunning.