Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kahoolawe 2013

I was/am blessed with a wonderful girl friend and opportunities to do the things I love to do.  I recently got invited to go to Kahoolawe with my girl friend.  She asked if I wanted to go and I said "Absolutely, would love to go."  Not many people get to set foot on this island, for the only way getting on the island is through two organizations.  We went with K.I.R.C.  (Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commision). 

We flew into Kahalui airport on Maui early Tuesday morning.  The KIRC staff picked us up and dropped us off at the Kihei boat ramp.  From there we boarded and set sail for Kahoolawe.  For me I didn't know how I was going to react on a boat because I've only really been on a boat once.  Luckily the seas were calm.  If it were rough it would proceed the name, 'Alalakeiki which means "crying baby".  It took us roughly an hour to cross the channel.  On the way there we saw the northern side of the island and also the other organizations camp, Protect Kahoolawe Ohana

We disembarked on a sandy beach near our base camp.  The first thing that came to my mind was are there going to be any waves on this trip?  I asked Mike the executive director of KIRC, he said if a straight south comes in the whole bay closes out... It must be a sight to see.  This time around we had ankle snappers, if that.  We formed a line and off loaded all of our baggage and cargo we needed for the four days we were staying there.  The luggage got loaded into a car and driven up to our huts.  We walked down the beach and to our huts, the first thing that caught my eye was gigantic opihi!  Sadly those were not for eating.  Everything from fishing to shelling was kapu on the island. 

We got to our cabins ate some lunch and headed out to the top of Kahoolawe.  This day was our tour day and they showed us around in 4 wheel drive cars.  There are no roads there... just roads with dirt and rocks on them.  We got to the top and they showed us where we would be working for the next few day.  The ahupuaa we would be working in was Hakioawa.  We had to plant some plants, lay some irrigation piping, build a bridge and move loads of materials.  On the way there we also had to repair some of the road because some got washed away with the last heavy rain.  We had our work cut out for us for the next four days. 

We came back down the mountain which is almost an hour drive back to base camp.  The KIRC staff allowed us to swim.  I was excited to take some wave shot even though it was so small.  We played around in the water till sunset.  The best thing on the trip was the food!  I've only heard rumors of the food being good but actually being there and eating the food is a whole different story.  We had home cook meals every day from our chef Gerard.  The first night we had fried chicken, ribs, rice, potatoes, artichoke salad, toss salad, and brownies.  I can only tell you how good the food was but just like hiking you have to be there to understand!

That evening we talked story and we planned our next days manual labor.  After that Cory, Christian and I headed out to check out the night time sky.  With minimal light pollution it was prime!  We headed down towards the beach at first but clouds hampered our view of the milky way so we headed north a little above the cabins to take some star trail shots.  After an hour of shooting we decided to call it a night. 

Breakfast every morning was at 6 am sharp.  So that mean to get ready at least half an hour before then.  We woke up and did our morning routine, running water and electricity was nice even though I didn't think we were going to have electricity in our cabins.  All my gear was charged up and ready to go.  Our group congregated in the dining hall and breakfast was awesome.  Blueberry pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, rice, and orange juice was on the menu.  After breakfast we each had a duty of cleaning up some part of the kitchen or dining room, while other had to pack for lunch.  I opted to wipe down tables this time. 

After lunch was made we all hopped in the vehicles.  I hopped in with Cory, shotgun in a dually.  We were the supply truck, while other hopped in the bed as passenger transport.  The KIRC staff jumped in an off roading golf cart.  We headed up the road and packed some bags with gravel.  A full bed of gravel in mine and Cory's dually made for a bumpy ride up the mountain.  We repaired part of the road on the way up with the gravel we loaded.  When we got to the top we started to lay 500 ft irrigation piping down connecting almost 2000 ft in irrigation from the water catchment they had.  Off the main line we laid some sub lines to go to the plants that we planted the day before.  This took almost all day.

When we were done we headed to one of the most sacred places on the island.  Pu'u Moaulaiki is where a bell stone is kept with a lele on the side of it for offerings of Hookupu.  Mike also talked about the navigators chair just below the peak, in ancient Hawaii this is where you would take your navigator because there was a seat that pointed directly to the north star.  We also learned that Hokuleia will return and embark from this island for Kahoolawe is the belly button of the Hawaiian islands. 

After a long day of work we returned to base camp.  For free time they allowed us to snorkel where we landed the boat on the first day.  Crystal clear water greeted us when we entered the water.  I dove for shells and there was an abundance of them all on the ocean floor.  Let me say again that it was Kapu to take shells from the island so people before us couldn't take, that's why there were so many.  A group of us ventured out onto a reef on the left side of the bay.  The bay is name Hanakanai'a (Bay of the dolphins).  Unfortunately for our stay there we didn't get to see any dolphins.  What we saw was equally impressive, pristine reefs, giant schools of fish, a few papio here and there and a grey reef shark.

Dinner was served a little after 6 pm.  After dinner we had a special presentation on sea shells.  After the presentation we took advantage of the clear skies once again.  Cory and I shot up near where we shot last time.  We stayed up to watch the moon rise. 

The next morning we set out again doing some of the same work.  Laying pipe and building a bridge was part of the activities today.  Building a bridge was a lot of fun.  After that we had to move material from the top of the mountain down a little ways. 

On our way back to base camp we stopped at where operation sailor hat took place.  It was a test site for a bomb, the navy wanted to know the affects of the blast on radars on ships.  It was a really really big hole in the ground. 

When we got back to base camp Jen one of the KIRC staff took us on a beach walk and a guided snorkel tour.  We went to the point where the Hokuleia gets launched.  At that point it's almost a direct shot to Tahiti.

On our last night we had another amazing dinner.  Some kalbi with bbq chicken. 

The next morning we packed up and left Kahoolawe.  As we were leaving another group was coming.  A new shift of KIRC staff was going to facilitate this group.  On our way back to Maui we made a stop at Molokini island for a short snorkel session. 

Stay tuned for our adventures on West Maui. 

Mike chillin on the deck of the Ohua. 

Christian bidding farewell to the Ohua.

Ordinance comes in all shapes and sizes.  

The view of the beach from a shelter near base camp.  

KIRC staff making plans. 

Beneath the rain bridge.

Altar above Hakioawa.
 West Maui in the distance. 

The group getting instruction from KIRC staff on how to plant.  

Gorgeous sunset on Kahoolawe.

Keahi tired after laying gravel bags in the road.

You have to be careful when you pass these post.  These mark the boundaries of where unexploded ordinances are.  

The group moving an irrigation pipe.

Mike explaining protocol on approaching the bell stone.  

Views of Kahului, West Maui, and Molokai.  

The group connecting with Kahoolawe.  

This is where you would bring Hookupu and place it on the altar.  

The milky way from the beach.  

Looking back at base camp at night.  

Star trails.

You might mistake this for the sun but it's actually the moon.  

Dural stoked on breakfast. 

If you find yourself on the wrong side of the post you might run into these.  These are bombs, bombs kill people... 

Wonder what 500 tons of tnt does?  Operation Sailor Hat.

Dinner on the last night.  

 Kicks served me well on Kahoolawe.

 Mini shore break.

Looks and seems like its going off but this is only a foot... probably on the bigger size!

Kahoolawe 2013 from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Picking up where we left off...

Last weekend we hike Waianae.  The following weekend we hiked again where we left off.  We finished a traverse to the tallest peak on Oahu, Ka'ala.  It would be the first time I'd be trekking to the tallest peak on the island. 

Our start point was our end point the week before.  Going up a spur ridge in muggy humid conditions was not ideal.  The weather forecast called for thunderstorms in the afternoon so we started early.  We hit the top of the spur ridge before noon. 

We took a left at the top and worked our way up.  We followed the fence all the way to the top.  On our way we encountered mean black berry that hindered our hiking.  The black berry was very thorny.  We also encountered a sketchy section just before the summit.  It was roped up but still made for slow progress because of the scrambling and climbing involved in this section. 

Once we hit the bog we made a quick effort to meet Cory's colleagues (Norine) studying snails.  We were a little later than anticipated.  The purpose of meeting was to be taught by Norine about the snails that live up in Ka'ala.  We were pressed for time but fortunately Cory found a snail that peaked her interest. 

We made our way through the bog quickly pointing out all the native fauna and flora.  We reached the radar and made our way around the fence line only to find out that the north side was socked in and had no views. 

Luckily we arranged for a ride down an access road so we didn't have to hike down. 

Started off early in the morning.

Just after Jen and Jay got stung by wasps, taking a break.

The view from our spur ridge.  

 The panorama feature on the iphone is pretty darn good!

Following the fence up on the summit trail.  

Our end goal was there!

Looking back towards the second tallest peak, Kalena

Thomas helping Jen out during a tricky section just below the summit.

Met Norine on the boardwalk.  She was pointing out a vine that is native on the Big Island and doesn't belong here.  

This fence keeps out ungulates.

The group deciding what our next step is. 

The view was obscured by clouds but I got to see native lobelias so the trip was well worth it around the fence.

Cory spotted a few of these snails in the bog.  


Picking up where we left off... from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Waianae Snails

This past weekend I was going to do a hike on the windward side of the island but with the threat of heavy showers and possible thunderstorms I didn't want to take the chance of being flooded out.

Instead my group opted for the Waianae mountain range.  I'm not very fond of the Waianae's because it's so hot and the elevation gain to get to the summit is hard.  On this day though it was overcast and winds were flowing pretty good.  

Our group met at the Tamura's in Waianae and started on the trail head around 8:15.  With us were Katie, Cory, Nate, Jay, Aaron, and Jenelyn.  Jay set a blistering pace that I barely could keep up with.  Once we reached near the summit there were some scrambling sections which made it more fun.  When we reached the summit it was still really early but we wanted to reach a second peak to go look for insects.  

We quickly ate a snack and made for a thirty minute crossover.  The crossover was had because we were going to the second highest point on Oahu.  Once there we took a really long break.  Jay immediately started to look for snails.  He went to look in Ohia bushes and ferns and he spotted three to four different species of snails.  

The photos were nonstop.  Nate and Jay both had macro lenses and Jenelyn had an amazing camera phone.  Cory and I struggled with our DSLRs and our wide angle lenses.  After about an hour of shooting these insects we made for our exit route.  It was still about thirty minutes away.  

When we were leaving the summit we got sprinkled on a few times enough to put on our rainflys and jackets.  The clouds rolled in from the windward side making for some cool conditions.  When we hit the next peak we made a left and came down a spur ridge.  

The spur ridge had lots of rope and webbing which made for an easy descent down.  Once we hit the bottom of the ridge we followed a road out to our car.

 Taking a break somewhere in a Leeward valley

This section was fun for Katie.

The group taking a break after a scramble.

Jen scrambling making it look easy.

The view just below the peak. 

A huge field to have a lunch at. 

With a view!

Making our way to the second tallest peak on Oahu.  

At the second peak... why are they taking pictures of the ground?

This is what they were photographing. 

They were all over!

This ones a little different. 

 The view from the second peak.
 After we came off the mountain we went Makai and saw this beautiful Waianae sunset.