One of the nice things about the hike up Pu’u Wa’awa’a is the selection of benches available for rest and contemplation, on the way up and at the top. This bench sits halfway up the steep slope that accesses the top of the hill. It gives a good view of Mauna Loa and the pastures on and around Pu’u Wa’awa’a. If you’re lucky, you might even see a dung beetle or three doing what they do.
These sheep kept me under observation during a hike on Pu’u Wa’awa’a, and since I didn’t change course, they remained unperturbed and undisturbed.
Pu’uanahulu is a small community midway between Kailua Kona and Waimea, on the upper road between those two communities. I don’t drive that highway much, except when I go to hike up Pu’u Wa’awa’a. Last time I did this, driving through Pu’uanahulu, I noticed that the jacaranda trees were in bloom alongside the road. What I hadn’t realized is just how many jacaranda trees there are in this area.
These photos are taken from the northern slopes of Pu’u Wa’awa’a. The bottom photo shows the general area with the purple jacaranda flowers of Pu’uanahulu clearly visible. The top photo shows a closer view of part of the community and the abundance of flowering jacaranda trees.
Two days ago, while driving home after my daily walk, I was thinking it must be almost a week since I actually took a photo (Never mind that when I got home I found that I’d taken a couple of photos earlier, during my walk!). Then I saw a patch of white in the grass beside the road, realized what it was, and thought that I should at least get a photo of that.
The nearest of the cows was some distance away, but this was the pasture of the local dairy and these cows are pretty mellow. I’ve seen other calves, seemingly abandoned, but actually just resting in a quiet spot while mom catches up with some grazing.
This was a marked contrast to my last cattle encounter, which was that almost-a-week-previous occasion of taking photos. I went for a hike up Pu’u Wa’awa’a. This is a public trail, but the land is also used for grazing so there can be cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and even a donkey or two sharing the area with hikers. Bear in mind that these cattle are being raised for beef so they’re big. Also, the cows among them are there to produce future beef cattle. They’re not giving milk to anyone other than their calves.
On this day, the first part of the trail, an old road, was littered with cattle of one kind or another, including several small calves. I grew up on a dairy farm and I’ve walked through many a field of cows and the occasional bull. I’m used to them, so this array of cattle didn’t bother me. As I walked up the trail, the herd thinned out. Soon all I saw in front of me were a couple of younger animals. These looked bigger and older than the calves lower down, perhaps yearlings. As I got closer I noticed a couple of full-grown animals grazing in a ditch on the other side of the road. They were mostly obscured by grass so I couldn’t see if they were cows or bulls. It seemed to make no difference as they appeared to ignore me as I passed.
I marched on up the road, and as I got closer to the two yearlings, I realized that one of the full-grown cattle (the large, black one in the photos below) had moved in my direction. This didn’t bother me. Often times cattle run towards me as I pass. Then they pull up and just look, or even turn and run away. I kept going. So did the large animal. I still couldn’t see whether it was male or female, but as it started snorting at me, I began to think female. I looked ahead to the two yearlings, then at the cow. She came closer, still snorting. I stopped. For the first time in my life, I thought I was probably going to get charged by a cow. This might seem silly, but people get killed by cows every year. A cow will charge, especially if someone comes between her and her calf.
By this time the cow was about 10 feet away. I decided this wasn’t the time to get a photo of a charging cow and instead clutched my metal water bottle with a view to swinging it at her snout. But the cow didn’t charge. Instead, she snorted one last time, glared at me as she stomped past, and headed up the road to what was clearly her calf. She was followed by the other large, brown cow.
Once the four were reunited, they just stood in the old roadway. I thought they might amble off, as cows will often do, but they stayed put. I didn’t feel like threading my way through them in case the two big ones were still riled up, so I marched into the scrubland to the side of the road and worked my way around them. The footing was uneven, but it wasn’t hard going and I soon came out on the other side. They’d watched my passage with more typically bovine expressions and once I regained the road surface they lost interest and meandered into the trees on the opposite side of the road.
I watched them go and figured I’d have a drink of water before continuing up the trail. I reached for my water bottle and pulled it out with a bloodstained hand … bloodstained hand? I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Both hands were smeared with blood. My shorts had a giant patch of blood on one side. Just above my wrist, a small scratch continued to gush. Somewhere in my short trek through the underbrush I’d encountered something sharp without noticing, which is fairly typical for me.
I washed the blood off my hands and held a tissue to the cut. It quickly stopped flowing, so I carried on up the trail having rediscovered the wisdom of not getting between a mother and her offspring.
The top photo was my last of April and is posted in response to Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge. See more responses here.
Also posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘Covid Discoveries.’ See more responses here.
And if those four cattle ever get together and release a record, perhaps Music To Moooove To, I think the bottom photo would make a great album cover for them.
Bright yellow mamane flowers are not only a cheerful sight, but also very popular with bees. They were all over these mamane flowers on the upper slopes of Pu’u Wa’awa’a.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Great Outdoors.’ (See more responses here.) When I think of the great outdoors, I think of hiking, and one of my favorite hikes on the Big Island is up Pu’u Wa’awa’a. It’s an 8-mile round trip and tops out at just under 4,000 feet. On a good day, the hike offers great views, not only from the top, but also on the way up and down. And there are several benches where a person can rest and take in those views, including a couple on the summit.
The top photo shows the view north from around 3,500-feet elevation, with Tamaki Coral in the foreground and Kohala Mountain in the background. The bottom photo is a view from 100 feet or so below the summit looking east toward Mauna Kea.
The hike can also include many native trees and plants as well as a variety of wildlife. There are domestic sheep, cattle, and horses, as well as wild pigs and goats. When the trees are in bloom, they’re rich with insects and birds including several native varieties.
To top it off, most of the times I’ve visited, usually in the early morning, I’ve had the place to myself.
For more information about Pu’u Wa’awa’a and its trails, go to puuwaawaa.org.
I don’t know who Christa is or was, but there were a couple of things that struck me about this image.
The sign and the swing’s rope and seat were in excellent condition in stark contrast to the tree, which was dying and deliberately so. The channel around the trunk, below the sign, is intended to kill the tree, probably a silk oak, which can take over and crowd out native trees.
And then there’s the location, not far from the old quarry near the foot of Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a. It’s more than a mile down the hill to the nearest habitation, a ranch that runs livestock in this area. So, an isolated spot for Christa’s playground, but a wonderful location too, with views to the Pacific and surrounded by birds and animals, both domestic and wild.
Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Playground.’ See more responses here.
This group of cattle was crowded together beneath a small shrub on the side of Pu’u Wa’awa’a. They were making the most of the scant shade on offer and weren’t about to give it up because of my presence.