2013 has been an insane year of adventure and growth for Exploration: Hawaii. We spent a significant amount of time this year exploring the neighbor islands of Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai. We hiked, we camped, we backpacked, but most importantly, we had oodles of fun. As a group, we explored Haleakala Crater during a 4-day backpacking adventure. Backpacking through Haleakala proved to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. We also had a few individual highlights, including Ahnate’s completion of the Koolau Summit Trail, from Pupukea to Makapuu. He tackled and completed the most treacherous sections of the trail, including the dreaded Kalihi Saddle, and survived to tell his tale. Marvin embarked on a solo, 3-day tent-less hike from Pupukea to Waiahole.
If you stick to just the “road” then this hike can be a very long and boring ordeal. It’s when you venture off the old, dirt and gravel filled road, that the adventure on Kamananui Valley Road really begins. Upon first glance, one would doubt that there is much to see on Kamananui Valley Road, other than some really old stone bridges. Quite the opposite is true. In fact, this 4-mile, mostly flat road, is filled with rich history. And those really old stone bridges? They’re pretty cool too.
If this footage from photographer and videographer, Fred Rackle, left you wanting more, well, I’ve got more for you. I stumbled on this great, vintage film from the 1960’s, titled Hawaii’s Spectacular Valcono Eruptions, by photographer Art Carter. In fact, Rackle is credited with helping with the video. The narration is great, but the video is even better. At one point, they show video of Kilauea Iki spewing a fountain of over 1,900 feet in height. Try to imagine lava being spewed over 1900 feet in the air. I’d love to see that in real life. The final six minutes shows video of the eruption in Puna, Big Island. There’s one aerial shot of the town, and you can see not too far behind (probably less than a mile), the volcano erupting. It’s an unbelievable sight that has to be seen to be believed. What an amazing time to have lived in Hawaii.
Although I have seen a lot of Haleakala National Park, I have not seen it all. In fact, it is likely that I will never be able to see all that this Hawaiian volcano has to offer. But I can try. I was eager to return to Haleakala after having hiked through the volcanoes most prominent hiking trails on a four-day backpacking trip. This time, though, I would be exploring upcountry Haleakala by hiking through the Pipiwai Trail which leads to the spectacular Waimoku Falls. This hike was also special because we did it on my wife’s birthday. I though that it would be cool to give her a 400-foot waterfall for her birthday.
A Note (10/6/2016): Local’s have stated that they don’t like tourists driving this back road. Also, keep in mind that driving through the unpaved portion of this road may void your rental contract. The unpaved road and pot holes will make driving through this area during heavy rains very difficult. Be respectful of the area and do not stop and park where you are not supposed to. Pack out what you pack in…don’t leave your trash around!
Hana is a sleepy, quiet town, but driving to get there via State Highway 36 can be challenging for some. The drive through Hana Highway features many hidden waterfalls, but is also well known for its narrow single vehicle lanes and bridges. Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the number of twists and turns that define the Road to Hana. It’s no wonder that most visitors to Hana leave the town with a t-shirt declaring that they Survived The Road to Hana.
I should have kept driving. My initial plan was to hike through the Honolulu Mauka Trail System by spending a lazy Saturday hiking the Pauoa Flats, Nuuanu, and Judd Trails. I would use the Manoa Cliff Trail to access Pauoa Flats. The Manoa Cliff Trail was wet and muddy, but nice as usual. I was the only one on the trail, I guess everyone else was at the Dead Man’s Catwalk. Better for me. The bench along the Manoa Cliff Trail is one of my favorite places. It faces Manoa Falls, and on a good day, you can see it flowing from a distance.
My vintage Polaroid collection is quickly growing. What began as a curiosity is quickly turning into a new hobby. The Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera is probably my favorite vintage camera that I own. In fact, it was the vintage camera that I decided to bring along with me on a recent trip to Maui. It is now common for me to lug both a digital and film camera when traveling.
No trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is complete without a visit to the end of Chain of Craters Road. Many times, visitors will check out the Holei Sea Arch, but completely skip out on fully venturing to the end of the road. Don’t be one of those people. The hike to the end is relatively short, though at times it feels like it is never ending. The National Park Service says that it is a one-mile roundtrip hike, but it feels much longer than that. It’s probably because the hike in and out is on a flat and monotonous paved road. Doesn’t matter, I’d suggest that you tough it out.