Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lake 22

A view of the other side of Mt.Pilchuck reflected into an ice cold lake reached by a nice gently graded hike was exactly what we were looking for on last weekend's beautiful Saturday afternoon. We began around 2:30 and although full, the trail head parking lot wasn't overflowing so we figured it wouldn't be too crowded on the trail. 

the path

The first thing I noticed was the overwhelming color green just everywhere. It made me so giddy, I've been waiting for spring for what seems like forever. The second was the water. It was flowing every where. Under the walk ways, sometimes over the trail, and the waterfalls were just running out of control. Quite a few times we ventured off the main trail to catch a look at the multiple waterfalls that we could hear from the trail. 

skunk cabbage

initials on the bridge
log over falls

flowing forest
flowing timber

As we reached the lake, just before I stepped onto the wooden walkway that surrounds the lake I dunked my entire foot in a large pool of melting snow and mud. My foot was soaked, so we picked a spot on the board walk to sit and eat lunch while my sock dried out. 

reflections on 22

The lake still had a sheet of ice on the far end and as we were hiking up we passed a group of four young men who had ski's strapped to their backs, with the exception of one who had an inflatable orca whale attached to a snowboard. Apparently they had hiked to the other side of the lake and skied down the snow into the water and went swimming.

yikes...between the avalanches and the freezing cold water...well, they were nuts. 

shadow flower

Slightly dryer, we decided to head back down. We passed a group of some hipsters (one of which had hiked up in a dress and flip flops) who were digging up a lone skunk cabbage flower. I didn't bother to tell them about the plant they were digging up. Better to let them experience the smell. 


At the beginning of the talus field we noticed a man carrying a teenaged girl on his back. We lost them on one switchback, but quickly caught up to them and noticed that the girl had her ankle wrapped and elevated. The tall one asked what happened and apparently she twisted her ankle at the top and re-injured it. (she had surgery on it last year). We asked if there was anything we could do to help, but the gentleman (who we found out was the father) told us that some people had stopped (who also had a wrap for his daughters ankle) and went ahead to notify Search and Rescue.

We insisted that we stay to help them, although the dad said he didn't feel comfortable with a stranger carrying his daughter down the mountain. I reassured him that though tall and skinny, my boyfriend is a UPS driver and could probably carry both me and his daughter down the mountain. But he wouldn't budge so we followed them down. After having to stop a few times, and some encouragement from his daughter, he finally let my boyfriend take her on his back and carry her down. The tall one proceeded to book it down the mountain. I'm not kidding, I had to run after the guy and he was carrying someone on his back.

SAR never came, so we're not sure what happened with that, and we were passed by the group of hipsters who did not offer to help, but other than that we didn't see another person on the trail. Strangely enough though, it was a lovely hike and the father and daughter (who is graduating high school this year) were a great team and kept things light and cheerful in the midst of what could have been a scary situation. I'm glad we were able to help them.

I highly recommend heading out there and stepping of the beaten path to check out these beautiful waterfalls.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

I have finally received my developed underwater pictures so I can now continue on with Day Three of the Hawaii trip!

putting on the gear

I had read about Hanauma Bay and there were TONS of travel sites that offered tours and packages, but as I read the fine print I realized we'd still have to pay for the entrance fee to the bay on top of all the fee's for the tour. Apparently there are 300 public parking spaces that usually go pretty fast so most people opt for the tours. We decided to take our chances and head over to the bay early on our own.


Hanauma Bay was once a volcano, long dormant the crater caved on the ocean side letting in the sea water and created a protected reef.  There are more than 450 species of fish along with octopus, crabs, eels and honu, also know as sea turtles. We arrived at 7:15 am, low tide, and after watching the mandatory video for how to treat the reef (ti's now a Nature Preserve and a Marine Life Conservation District and they take the preservation of the reef very seriously, it's even closed every Tuesday so it's not over used) we sought out shade on the sand and prepared our snorkel gear.

I had never snorkeled before so the first time we went out I was sans camera. I just wanted to get the feel of it. We wandered out into the shallow water and put our faces down and I instantly felt as though I'd just swam into a large fish tank. There were fish EVERYWHERE!! It was amazing.

bokeh swimming

I did not have my Nikon with me for the trip, instead I brought two underwater cameras. I was very nervous about the kind of pictures that the cameras would take, seeing as they were 800 speed I at least knew they were going to be pretty noisy, but I'm pleasantly surprised at the gritty, 1970's feel of them. I love shooting with film, it's the waiting around to develop them that I don't like. I still have 5 rolls of film from my Holga that I haven't taken in yet.

parrot fishy

The second time out I brought my camera and started shooting away. I didn't even look through the viewfinder, I would just chase around a fish with my arms stretched towards it hoping that I actually framed the shot correctly (ah hell, I didn't even care about that. I just wanted to capture some fishys!).

zebra fish

We started snorkeling at low tide, which was around 7:30 am, so the inland portion of the reef was still exposed and there were many times where our belles were dragging along the coral. Passing the break was not an option so we stayed inside the reef and would every once and a while stand up (carefully so as to not actually step on the coral) and look for a turquoise section of water and then crawl over the reef to that area. (The turquoise meant that it was slightly deeper water).

three fishes

The tide started to come in and we were joined by Sherie, Eric, Cirrus and Sherie's friend (who's name I can't recall at the moment). Cirrus is an experienced snorkeler and by this point the tall one and I had it down. We swam around a bit until the tide had risen high enough for us to pass the break and swim out into deeper water.

swimming lucas

school of fishy

Now the fun really started! All the cool fishys were hanging out past the break where the hundreds of flapping feet couldn't touch them. Swimming in the expanse of turquoise water and seeing actual schools of fish has prompted the tall one and I to start researching scuba diving and, as Cirrus was so kind to offer us a place to stay, a trip to the Bahamas next year. We even saw some scuba divers past the break where we were snorkeling. They actually startled me, and at first I didn't know why they would be snorkeling so close to the inside of the reef...but after this set of pictures you'll see why:


deep sea fishy

center fishy

polka fishy

Quick break: this cute little polka dot fishy was my favorite. He was probably about as long as my thumb so I had to get up on him pretty close to get a decent shot...and he was fast! I followed quite a few of them before I was finally able to get a shot. Sooooo cute!

chillin' fishy

single fishy

happy fishy


sea turtle


I felt a tug on my fin and I looked back to see the the tall one emphatically pointing towards the ground, and there we saw our first sea turtle. I can't even begin to explain to you the feeling. You really have to see one for yourself. I would say the water was about 15 to 20 feet deep and the big guy was just swimming along, his cute little flappers gently pushing his large body.

I do a great impression if you're ever interested...

Every once in a while I'd put my head up to find Cirrus, who would see a fish that he liked and just keep following it. The tall one stayed with me and we saw two more sea turtles, one that was halfway under the coral and the last one...sigh. It was so beautiful. There was no coral around, just a long expansion of white sand and blue water, and a majestic sea turtle swimming quietly alone, slowly fading away into the deep ocean.

At this point we had been snorkeling for 6 hours. I was feeling the exhaustion and needed to head in. I felt like the turtles were a good stopping point for me. It couldn't get any better than that. I laid on the beach while the tall one headed back out for one last swim, covering myself from the sun and yet still feeling the heat burning my already scorched skin. As we left the bay, I looked back and took one last picture. This day was one of the best I've ever had in my whole life and I didn't want to forget it.

snorkling reef

Best Monday Ever.

day one
day two
day three
day four
day five

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Oahu, five

day five

This was our last day, but we didn't let an early afternoon flight stop us from enjoying the last bits of our vacation. We awoke early and headed over to Diamond Head (in Hawaiian: Le'ahi, meaning brow of the tuna) just as the sun was peaking over the mountains. Surprisingly there were already tour buses pulling in at 6:00 am so we quickly headed up the trail towards the top of the crater.

diamond head at sunrise

I'm quoting now from the Hawaii State parks website, but the history is so fascinating that it bears reading: The trail to the summit of Le'ahi  was built in 1908 as part of O'ahu's coastal defense system. The 0.8 mile hike from trailhead to the summit is steep and strenuous, gaining 560 feet as it ascends from the crater floor. The walk is a glimpse into the geological and military history of Diamond Head. A concrete walkway built to reduce erosion shifts to a natural tuff surface about 0.2 mile up the trail with many switchbacks traversing the steep slope of the crater interior. The ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel to enter the Fire Control Station completed in 1911. Built on the summit, the station directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger outside Diamond Head crater. At the summit, you'll see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917.

in the crater

The current name came was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800's. When they first saw the crater at a great distance, the calcite crystals in the lava rock appeared to glimmer in the sunlight. The sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil.

keep off ps

Diamond Head is a crater that has been extinct for 150,000 years. The crater is 3,520 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit. When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, harbor defense became a main responsibility. One of the major defense forts, Fort Ruger, occupied the Diamond Head Crater. A battery of canons was located within the crater providing complete concealment and protection from invading enemies. An observation deck was constructed at the summit in 1910 to provide target sighting and a four level underground complex was built within the walls of the crater as a command post. A 580-foot tunnel was dug through the crater wall to provide easier access to the Fort.


We made it to the top in pretty good time and I was able to grab some photos even though my legs were shaking from that last burst of steps to the summit. As the sun was casting some interesting shadows over the city I decided to create HDR's out of the pictures I did take. Some people don't like this type of photography, and that's cool. I don't mind if you don't really dig it...but I have to say the "Keep Out" photo is probably one of my favorites I've ever done. The sunbeams make me sooo happy. For the detail it's worth check out that picture in a larger size.

hike up in heels

While hiking up the trail we heard this click click click sound from the passing hoard of tourists. Turns out one of the girls had worn heels. She made it all the way to the summit and although she was speaking Japanese it didn't really seem as though they bothered her, but it was a first for me. I've seen flip flops on a trail, but never heels.

The views were stunning and the rising sun cast a beautiful orange glow over Honolulu. We decided to head back down and made it to the car by 7:15. Not a bad time for a two mile hike. Next on our list was boogie boarding and since we'd made such good time I was excited that we would not only be able to get out in the water for a while but also shower before check out at noon.

Our hotel was right on the beach so all we had to do was cross the street and there was a vendor there who rented us the boards. Unfortunately low tide was at 7:30 am so the water was very shallow and the coral was poking up above the surf. The tall one was able to paddle right out to the break, but I struggled. And I'm a strong swimmer. I just couldn't get past the tide. I drug myself across the coral to the beach and sat there for a minute, defeated. Finally I realized I could either sit there and pout, or I could go rent some flippers and surf the waters of Hawaii. So I went back to the rental place, got myself some flippers and finally joined the tall one out at the break.

Ok seriously, catching a wave is hard. The tall one had surfed in Costa Rica so he was giving me pointers but I was drinking a lot of salt water. Even so, sitting out in the water waiting for a wave was probably my second favorite thing of the trip. I finally saw a big one coming and I turned towards the shore while the tall one was yelling "paddle, PADDLE!!" and I caught it! I was so used to not catching the wave and instead swallowing a mouthful of sea water so I closed my eyes and braced myself for the fall. But this time I didn't fall! It took me a minute to realize that I was being carried by the wave and finally I opened my eyes to see my board heading right for the pier. Luckily the wave ran out just before. I'm also pretty sure I made the most interesting "YIPPEE" / "WOOO" sound you've ever heard.

There was also another time that I sorta caught a wave and landed on the tall one's head. I'm still sorry, cuteness.

The tall one wasn't having much luck and his poor legs were being raked over the coral, so we called it a morning and headed back to shore. After a nice shower and some other activities we laid down for a minute before heading down to check out. On the way to the airport we decided to stop at Leonards, a place we had passed by before that had a crazy line out the door. Luckily this time it was empty and although we had no idea what the line had been for when we walked in and saw that it was a bakery and noticed the fresh malasadas sign on the counter I remembered that I had been told I needed to eat one of these things.

Malasadas are a kind of doughnut, and was brought by the Portuguese to Hawaii when they came to work in the plantations. Fun fact from Wiki: Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday"), the day before Lent, is also known as Malasada Day in Hawaii. Being predominantly Catholic, Portuguese immigrants would need to use up all of their butter and sugar prior to Lent. They did so by making large batches of malasadas, which they would subsequently share with friends from all the other ethnic groups in the plantation camps. This led to the popularity of the malasada in Hawaii.

And they are FUCKING AMAZING. Thank GOODNESS I have no idea where they make these things in Seattle or I would be screwed.

So that's it kids...that was our trip to Hawaii. I'll be posting some closing thoughts in an upcoming post and will be adding pictures from the snorkeling adventure soon. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and mahalo for reading!

Me ke aloha pumehana!

day one
day two
day three
day four

Oahu, four

day four

Another early morning pointed us inland. We had wanted to hike, but the small amount of sun we felt on our skin walking from the hotel to the car made me decide that we'd forgo the 5 mile hike on the beach in direct sunlight for a tropical hike shaded by large palm trees and ferns. Monoa Falls was our destination and, just like everything else in Hawaii, it cost $5 to park the car at the trailhead.

tree fern
big fern

And boy were there some big ferns! The hike, an easy 2 miles round trip that ends at a 150 foot waterfall, is just outside of town so it's a big tourist destination. Luckily we were there on a Tuesday so we didn't pass too many people on the trail, although there was a screaming child at the waterfall who got a big stink eye from me. The little fucker. I was so excited to be surrounded by the tropical forest that every little flower and bush was interesting to me.

purple flower
Marica Iris
Marica Iris
banana flower
Banana flower
interesting flower
plant thingy
red ginger
Red Ginger
wrapped tree
silly couple

After a million pictures taken of him, the tall one will typically grab my camera and start shooting away in my direction. Luckily I have the editing power. I was soaked with sweat after this little hike. Not from exertion, but from the crazy humidity. After the quick hike we hopped in the car, air conditioning at full blast and pondered what to do next. Driving down the road, the ever present reggae music playing softly in the background, the tall one said "I'm perfectly content doing this for the rest of the day". So that's what we did!

flower blowhole

We followed the H1 south until it ended and turned into the 70. Passing Hanauma Bay I remembered that the Halona Blowhole was just off the highway so we pulled to a stop behind the tour buses and wandered out to the lookout point and saw...nothing. The tide was coming in but the surf also needs to be rough to get the hole to blow, so to speak. The picture to the left is how it's supposed to look. Seeing as my photo was lacking a little...spray, I added a flower. Because it's pretty.

cutting the coconut
you put the lime in the coconut

We stopped at a roadside fruit stand and had the lady cut open a coconut so we could drink the "milk" inside. It was soo yummy, but it's a young coconut. The tall one told me as the coconut matures it absorbs the milk and the meat turns into what I'm used to, not the crazy slimy stuff that was in the young one that I hated but the tall one scooped up like it was the best thing in the world. Bleh. We stood at the stand for a bit and the lady's little boy came out and was playing around in the dirt. As we walked away the little boy (he must have been about a year and a half old) started yelling something. I turned around just as he started taking off his pants to show me his wee.

Time to hit the road!

hurleys golf course

These flowing fishes outside of Kualoa Ranch caught my eye so I asked the tall one to pull over so I could grab a couple frames. Lost fans may recognize this area as Hurley's golf course, but the ranch also was used for many different films, and there is still a big paw print from the Godzilla filming (which they filled in for the Lost shoot). You can spend the day here taking tours and riding horses but, big surprise, it's kinda spendy so off we drove.


After rounding the island we stopped to have shaved ice at Matsumoto's Shave Ice in North Shore. It wasn't as yummy as I thought it would be, but it did turn my tongue purple. It started to lightly rain and the smell of the precipitation hitting the warm concrete was a familiar aroma. It always reminds me of summers in Arizona and it made me think of my mom. We stopped at the Dole plantation to grab some pineapples and I got her a gift that I think she'll like.

By the way, did you know pineapples don't grow on trees? They grown on a bush, on the ground!

I know, it blew my mind too.

enjoying the view

We went back to the hotel to enjoy our view and to drink with the gnome. The tall one discovered two amazing things on that evening: one, a bottle of Jack and a bottle of Stoli plus mixers only cost $50 at the ABC store in the lobby and two, if you bring all the mixers and alcohol outside along with the ice you don't have to get up to make a drink. He was very excited about these two discoveries and we celebrated with a toast. We chatted and he learned a new thing about me and we watched the sunset colors move across Diamond Head as the full moon rose above the crater. It was a great end to a lovely day.

to be continued...

day one
day two
day three