Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Hiker

Hiking! Finally! After weeks of rain, interrupted only by a few sunny days spent at the beach, I was able to hike non-stop this weekend. It felt good to be both active and outdoors, exposed to some of the real and natural beauty of Hawai'i.

Saturday morning, I went with my friend Merete over to the windward side of the island and hiked the Makapu'u Lighthouse trail... or at least hiked near it. After the long bus ride to that part of the Island, Merete and I were eager to hike up this beautiful mountain, overlooking the ocean and towns below.

We couldn't quite find the trail, so we instead just hiked straight up the face of Makapu'u, which was a great deal of fun all on its own. It was great to be climbing and putting effort into our ascent rather than taking the very tame and paved "trail" on the back side of the mountain.

Merete making the climb up!

We also passed some actual rock climbers! We have friends from frisbee who do this climb-- I'm hoping maybe they'll bring me along before I leave!

The views from the top were stunning. Makapu'u must have been an old military lookout post, because there were several of these pillboxes at the top.
A view from inside one of the pillboxes

Merete and I at the windy top!

The vegetation too was breathtaking and incredibly interesting. The wind and dry air reminded me of the climate on Koho'olawe. With time, and more work, I hope that Koho'olawe will be able to retain the moisture of the winter rains to a point that life like this can flourish there as well.

This last photo was my favorite one I took of the day. This rock structure could possibly mark a haeau, or a sacred place.

From the top, we took the trail down the backside of the mountain, and switched extremes from the windy heights of the top of Makapu'u, down to the ocean where the crashing waves caused these deep tide pools, and also this blow-hole:

I'd like to go back and spend more time at this spot on a warmer day and swim in these pools. They were actually extremely deep!

After an incredible day out with Merete on Saturday, the next day became Sunday Fun-day: hiking edition. Kristen, Merete and I went to the Judd Memorial Trail, which was more of a jungle-type, muddy hike as opposed to the dry, seaside hike from the day before. The scenery was incredible, and constantly changing. We started out in a thick bamboo forest, and continued through pines and then Guava trees as we ascended to the ridge.
Kristen and Merete climbing through the bamboo
A "waterfall"? Water trickling down over rocks from a stream up-mountain.

This was the most incredible Banyan tree I've seen since being here. We spent a long time climbing it, hiding in it, and exploring it. Banyan trees are incredible as they have branches shoot straight down and re-root into the earth, causing more braches to grow upwards. Over time, the tree becomes this endless network of growth...

Hiking with these women felt effortless, despite the steep, muddy incline. Between good conversation and stopping frequently to admire the natural environment around us, the day and hike went extremely fast!

Kristen is a biologist, and frequently was able to tell us about different plants we saw, like these mushrooms.
A view from the top!

After hiking back down the muddy trail (many slips occurred along the way), we looked for the swimming hole located nearby. After getting a little lost and doing some bush-whacking through the forest, we finally found it! I didn't get a picture here, but it was a beautiful (slightly crowded) spot, complete with a small waterfall and a rope swing to use to jump into the stream.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I'm a little bumped and bruised and mosquito-bitten, but of course, it was worth it! I'm excited to do more hikes on the island in the weeks to come!

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