Tag Archives: Hiking

Halemaumau Crater

A view of Halemaumau Crater and Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The latest eruption at Kilauea Volcano has recently been declared paused. It was never an especially dramatic eruption, but when I went down a few days after it began (here) the sky was illuminated by the activity. In recent weeks though, the lava lake formed by the eruption crusted over completely and lava from the active vent was also hidden from view.

The photos are two views of Halemaumau Crater, taken before this latest eruption. In the top one, the collapsed floor of the crater is on the left. This is what the new lava lake was filling up. On the ridge, to the right side of the photo, is the low profile of the Jaggar Museum, which was closed after the 2018 eruption and likely won’t reopen.

The bottom photo shows the easternmost edge of Halemaumau Crater, which wasn’t greatly impacted by this eruption or the events of 2018. Consequently, the walls of the crater are quite green and the floor is dotted with plants. These plants are mostly ohia trees, which are among the first plants to grow in lava fields, in part because their roots will tap into lava tubes to find moisture and nutrients.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea’s eruptions, go to nps.gov/havo/.

A view of Halemaumau Crater from the Byron Ledge Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Road trip to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden

Hualalai volcano seen from Saddle Road in Hawaii
Hualalai Volcano from Old Saddle Road.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Favorite Vacation Spot.’ See more responses here.

It’s been a long while since I took a vacation, but a favorite day out is a road trip to the east side of the island and a visit to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden.

The day starts with a drive out of Hawi, up the hill to Kohala Mountain Road. This winding road climbs to around 3,500 feet before descending into Waimea. One the way, it passes through pastureland that is home to cattle, horses, and sheep.

A few miles after driving through Waimea, there’s a left turn onto Old Saddle Road. These days, the main road across the island is a smooth, wide thoroughfare, but it’s not so long ago that the highway was all like Old Saddle Road – narrow and twisting. In those days, rental car companies would not allow their cars to be driven on that road. Old Saddle Road is the last remnant of the original road and it’s one of my favorite roads to drive here, not just because of the road’s qualities, but because it’s one of the most reliable places to see pueos, the Hawaiian short-eared owl. On this road I drive like one of those people you follow and say ‘What the !@^%$@)&^ is that idiot doing?’ I’m prone to zipping off the tarmac and bolting from the car, camera in hand, snapping photos as I go.

Old Saddle Road joins the new highway a just before it reaches Pohakuloa Training Area, a large military base in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It’s not unusual to hear the sound of shells exploding here as they do live ammunition fire. Past this area, there are several good hiking trails that venture into the high elevation landscape. This is one of the best areas for seeing native birds that are still hanging on in much reduced habitat.

After that, there’s the descent into Hilo and then a jog north to the garden where, every time I visit, I see something different, something that wasn’t blooming on previous visits or that I’d just missed in the profusion wonderful plants to see.

And on the way back there’s a good chance that there’ll be a splendid sunset to be enjoyed.

Sunset seen from Saddle Road in Hawaii
Sunset from Old Saddle Road

Also posted for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Road Trip.’ See more responses here.

Hawaii ‘Elepaio

A Hawaii Elepaio searches for bugs on a tree trunk

On my last hike on the Pu’u O’o Trail, off Saddle Road, I’d been busy taking photos of an i’iwi when I noticed this little bird hopping up a tree trunk, probing for insects. It’s an Hawaii ‘elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis sandwichensis), a member of the flycatcher family, and endemic to the island. The Hawaii ‘elepaio is one of three ‘elepaio species in Hawaii, the other two being on Oahu and Kauai.

A bright I’iwi

An I'iwi in a forest off Saddle Road, Hawaii
An I'iwi calls in a forest off Saddle Road, Hawaii

On my last hike on the Pu’u O’o Trail, off Saddle Road, I soon ran into a man and his son staring at a tree a short distance away. The man explained that they’d seen an i’iwi, a native Hawaiian honeycreeper, fly into the tree and were hoping to see it again. I waited with them for a while, but saw nothing and decided to move on.

A little later I ran into two men coming out of a kipuka, a cluster of old vegetation that has been bypassed by lava flows. One of them, looking pretty pleased, held out his camera and said they’d just seen an i’iwi and he’d got some good photos. He mentioned the spot where they’d seen the bird, so I headed into the trees to have a look. Nothing. It was beginning to look like it was going to be one of those days where everyone else has a wonderful experience except me!

But not long after, I saw a flash of red and then this bird settled on a branch and began to add its song to the loud chorus of bird songs in the kipuka. One thing about i’iwis is that if they’re around, they’re easy to see, their bright red plumage standing out against the green background.

After the bird flew off, I carried on with my hike. When I returned half an hour later, the bird song in the kipukas had diminished considerably and I didn’t see or hear anymore i’iwis.

Posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Bright.’ See more responses here.

A walk around Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay sits midway between Kailua Kona and Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island. There are two main access points to the bay. One is via a gravel road south of the Kiholo Scenic Overlook on the main highway. This road takes you down to Kiholo State Park Reserve where there’s a campground and access to the beaches. I usually go that way, but on my last visit I wanted to try the hike from the main road.

There’s an unmarked parking area north of the scenic overlook. From there it’s about a mile to the coast, along a dirt and gravel road. This passes through scrubby trees where it’s likely goats will be encountered. They’re abundant in this area. The private property alongside the road is well marked, as is the public trail through to the beach. This trail comes out near a funky building decorated with things the tide washed in.

I headed to the right, along the beach towards Wainanali’i lagoon. There are a couple of houses along here, a palm-circled pool, and usually a canoe or two under the trees. Beyond the houses, a small bridge traverses a channel which connects the ocean to Wainanali’i fish pond. This is believed to have been built by King Kamehameha I, as part of an extensive fish collection and farming operation in the bay.

A bit farther along, a blue Kiholo Bay Fisheries Management Area sign marks where the trail forks. To the right, inland, it follows the old King’s Trail to Keawaiki. To the left, it hugs the shoreline heading north alongside Wainanali’i lagoon (top photo). The trail is loosely marked with white coral and/or cairns, but it’s not vital to follow them. I stick to the shoreline.

The lagoon is the remnant of a much larger fishpond, which was around 2 miles across and protected by a 20-foot wide lava rock wall. Much of it was destroyed by a lava flow from Mauna Loa’s 1859 eruption. Today, the lagoon is a prime area for seeing green turtles. They haul out on a rocky island marking the mouth of the lagoon and on the spit that separates it from the ocean. This is where they rest so it’s important not to get too close and disturb them. I also usually see turtles in the water. They putter along the edge in blue-green water, which can give them a wavy appearance. Small fish are abundant here and are often seen.

Once at the head of the lagoon I watched humpback whales splashing and slapping offshore. It’s possible to walk down the spit (not disturbing the turtles), and if it’s calm you can wade or swim across the lagoon entrance back to the trail. Following the coast northwards will take you to Keawaiki, but I retraced my steps until I got back to where I first reached the coast. Then I carried on along the beach.

The waves were rolling in, good news for surfers. The beach here is sandy and vegetation borders it. If the tide’s in a bit of paddling is required. On the other side of this, some private houses border the beach including the Bali House and a sprawling, yellow structure.

Farther along, behind the beach, is Keanalele waterhole, also known as Queen’s Bath. This is a collapsed lava tube, filled with a mix of freshwater and saltwater, where it’s possible to take a dip in the manor of Hawaiian royalty of yesteryear. The parking area for Kiholo State Park Reserve, back in the trees, is followed by the Loretta Lynn house and the campground.

Here, along with several places along the walk, a fair number of birds can be seen including black-crowned night herons, wandering tattlers, Pacific golden plovers, yellow-billed cardinals, and northern mockingbirds.

The southern end of the park is marked by Waia’elepi anchialine pool. Anchialine pools form in volcanic rock and are connected underground to the ocean. The water is brackish, but the pools can be home to a wide variety of species. I saw goats drinking here as well as a variety of birds and insects flying about.

From there, I headed back to the car on the gravel road which parallels the coast and connects to the trail I came down on. My walk was about 5 or 6 miles, but I took more than 4 hours to cover that distance since I do tend to stop a lot!

For more walks worldwide, see Jo’s Monday Walks. Also posted in response to the current Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘On The Way.’ See more responses here.

Wandering along with a wandering tattler

When I was down at Kiholo recently, I saw this wandering tattler at the shoreline, hunting around for a bite to eat. I followed it for a while, from a distance.

It snagged a katydid at one point (second photo), but I didn’t see it catch anything else. It spent a fair amount of time around one particular rock (third photo), which caused a good deal of consternation for the a’ama crab that was there. I think the crab was a bit too big to fall into the category of prey for this particular bird.

Loretta Lynn house at Kiholo

A couple of weeks ago, in her Squares challenge, Becky posted about a set of semi-circular steps here. That same day, I went for a walk down at Kiholo and took these photos of a similar set of steps there. These steps, though, don’t go anywhere, at least not right now.

The steps used to connect to the house, which was built by (or more accurately, for) country singer, Loretta Lynn. But the house hasn’t been used in many years. In 1999, a landowner in the area bought it, and he subsequently traded it to the state for some land behind his property, where he wanted to build a caretaker’s house. He didn’t get as much land as he wanted because the state considered the house, not just worthless, but also a liability, because it had no water, electricity, or sewer connections. Since then, the house has sat empty.

More recently, Hui Aloha Kīholo, a non-profit organization with the goal of protecting and perpetuating the natural and cultural resources at Kīholo Bay, has reached agreement with the state to take over the house for use as its headquarters. The group hoped to raise the funds to start work on restoring the house in 2020, but we all know what happened to everyone’s plans last year. Perhaps, in the none too distant future, those steps will be reunited with the house, and it will come to life again. It’s certainly a wonderful location.

For more information about Hui Aloha Kīholo, go to https://www.huialohakiholo.org/.
For an article about the organization and its plans for the house, go to https://www.konacoffeeandtea.com/blog/hui-aloha-kiholo-giving-tuesday.