San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hawaii Is A Mixed Bag

The first time I went to Hawaii I came back with a ringing endorsement.  After my second trip I have changed my opinion about the place.  There are some things that are good about the state but there are many things that are bad about it as well.  For example, my wife says that I have been far too pessimistic in the series of blog posts I have written this week primarily because I have ignored the primary reason people visit Hawaii.  According to her, and I suspect she is right once again, the main reason folks visit Hawaii is to play in the water.  Now I have an agreement with large bodies of water.  I agree not to go into them and they agree to let me live.  Being Welsh I have a natural aversion to water.  My wife is also mostly Welsh but she also has some Gypsy in her so she swims like a fish.  That means when we went to Hawaii she spent a lot of time in the water.
During our two week trip my wife went on twelve scuba dives over a six day period.  She saw some of the most beautiful sights she has ever seen on those trips.  Her last two dives in particular were memorable.  Her penultimate dive allowed her to swim with a shark.  Her final dive was a night dive in which she was surrounded by 24 gigantic manta rays as they were engaged in their nightly plankton feeding.  They came so close to her she had to continually duck to keep from being hit in the head.  She said it was one of the most magnificent experiences of her life and I believe her.  I conclude that Hawaii can give aficionados of the water some amazing experiences.
On the other hand, take the issue of smoking. Hawaii has turned into a perfect home for smoke Nazis.  While dining one evening our waitress suddenly stopped taking our order and lifted her nose to the air.  She had detected 2 parts per billion of cigarette smoke and she was out to get the offender.  New laws have been enacted in Hawaii since I was last there about smoking.  Under the old rules smoking was permitted on all of Hawaii's public beaches.  Most all of Hawaii's beaches are public so smokers had plenty of places to smoke.  That has all changed.  Smoking is now illegal everywhere except in designated "smoking permitted" zones.  There are hundreds of these zones in the resort areas, scattered about randomly among the high rent properties found there.  Rather than allowing smoking on the beach, where the sea breezes rapidly dissipated the smoke, smokers are now found throughout the property, pumping toxic cigarette smoke into the air, causing cancer, killing children and just being general nuisances.  Thank you Hawaii legislators for another stupid and senseless law that accomplishes nothing.
Hawaii still has great natural beauty.  Neither Yuppies nor career politicians are able to destroy that.  I mentioned the loop hike we took in Volcanoes NP in an earlier post.  Here is a shot of a flower growing from the floor of the Iki crater that we crossed on the last part of our loop.


After we crossed the crater, the trail crossing it is visible below, we climbed up to the crater rim and hiked through the jungle back to our car.  This shot looks back at what we had completed, through the light rain that fell the entire time.


Upon our arrival in Maui we decided to go for a desert hike on the west side of the island.  The Lahina Pali trail is a favorite of mine.  Here is a shot taken from the Lahina Pali trail looking towards Haleakala, which is hidden in the clouds across the way.


I also mentioned the Waihee Ridge trail in an earlier post.  Here is a shot into the jungle taken from along that trail.


I wrote previously about how the Waihee Ridge trail has been discovered by the Yuppies.  This shot is of the parking lot where the trail head is now found.  With the exception of the car we rented, all of the other cars were being operated by neon-shoed Yuppies wearing UnderArmor clothing.


Hawaii's trespassing laws are a mess.  While my wife was swimming with the sharks I was searching out trails to hike.  Time after time I ran into a sign informing me that I needed to turn around.  The photo below is indicative of what I am talking about.  At one point I got so frustrated I thought I would just simply stop hiking.  Then I met a native Hawaiian who informed me that the locals ignore all the no trespassing signs.  He told me that they really mean no camping but everyone is free to trespass provided they leave the area at night.  That seemed odd to me but I decided to do as the natives do so I started ignoring the signs.


The Waipio Ridge trail is posted with a no trespassing sign.  This gate blocked access to the trail.  I climbed over the gate anyway.  As I was doing so the property owner came up to me and asked me if I had gone to school.  I informed her that I had.  She followed that question up with what part of "no trespassing" I did not understand.  I attempted to explain the Hawaiian rules about no trespassing signs to her but she would have none of it.  I ended up paying her a $10 trespass fee to cross her property.  She was then my best friend, wishing me a "blessed day" as we parted.


After I crossed the aforementioned lady's property I ran into this government sign informing me the Waipio Ridge trail was also closed.  Naturally I ignored it.  I hopped over the fence and continued on my way.  After I got home I checked the internet about this trail and was surprised to discover that the State of Hawaii had officially closed the trail because of an earthquake that had occurred there eight years earlier.  The trail was well used and I saw two other groups of three people while I was on it but the official policy is that it is closed. The saga of Hawaiian rules on trespassing continues.


While on the Waipio Ridge trail I took a moment to photograph this flower.  It is one of my favorite Hawaiian flowers but I have no idea what it is.


The Waipio Ridge trail is a beautiful jungle trail.  Here is a shot from the trail peering into the mist enshrouded jungle.  I presumed I would be lost within minutes if I ventured from the trail.  Fortunately the trail was not hard to find.


The payoff on the Waipio Ridge trail is this view into the Waipio valley.  The Waipio valley is reputed to be the most magnificent jungle valley on the Big Island.  Native peoples live there according to the old ways and do not take favorably to hoeles making an appearance on their homelands.  I stayed way above the valley and enjoyed the view from the rim.


No trip to the Big Island is complete without a trip to Mauna Kea.  Mauna Kea is the highest peak in Hawaii, at almost 13,800 feet in elevation.  There is a road almost to the very top that services the astronomical observatories that peer into the heavens at night from their light free outpost.  There is also a trail to the top that I hope to do someday.  What got my attention about this sign, posted at the visitor center at the bottom of the mountain, was the "Beware of Invisible Cows" warning.    I knew Hawaii was a unique place but I had no idea it had invisible cows!


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