Posted by: kerryl29 | April 6, 2020

Hawaii Day 13, Part III: Kealia Pond

[If you’re wondering why I’m detailing photographic experiences on this blog as if a pandemic wasn’t ravaging the planet, click here.  Be sure to read the comments.]


When I wrapped up at Iao Valley State Park it was late morning and, truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I wanted to check out the coastal area of Maui south of where I had already explored in Wailea,  so I headed in that direction–south from Wailuku.  But, just shy of Kihei, on HI-310, I approached the western access point for Kealia Pond National Wildlife Sanctuary, and I quickly made the decision to stop.

I’d driven past both of the entrances to the refuge multiple times since arriving on Maui, beginning with the day of arrival.  The guidebook I was using made it sound as though there was no point visiting the refuge at this time of the year; the pond apparently dries up in the summer and doesn’t replenish itself until the early stages of winter, when the sanctuary is evidently teeming with birds.  But I thought I’d have a look anyway.

The main part of the pond lies on a good-sized tract located between HI-310 and HI-311, and that was indeed mostly–if not completely–dry.  But the section of the refuge I was visiting–accessed by a boardwalk that runs for at least a half-mile, between HI-310 and the shore–was another matter.  In this location, water remains in a number of spots–all year long, apparently.  Expecting to see nothing, I left my gear in my vehicle and started to wander down the almost entirely deserted boardwalk.  It wasn’t long before I saw some birds and, in short order, returned to the car, snagged my tripod and the camera with my 80-400 lens, and went back to the boardwalk.  For the next 90 minutes or so I had fun trying to photograph the surprisingly large number of birds, given the time of the year, that I saw.  It kind of reminded me of the time I spent in south Florida, several years earlier.

As I have noted a number of times previously on this blog, I’m no wildlife photographer; I simply take photos of wildlife from time to time.

The first images I made at Kealia Pond were of Hawaiian stilts, an interesting looking shorebird that’s a native sub-species of the long-necked stilt.  Unfortunately they never came particularly close to the boardwalk, so I had to settle for long distance shots.

Hawaiian Stilt, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian Stilt, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

After that, I was able to get relatively close to all of the other species that I saw that day, including the native Hawaiian coot–about the same size as the American coot.  The Hawaiian coot is an endangered species, but, fortunately, appears to be slowly increasing in number throughout the state.

Hawaiian Coot, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian Coot, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian Coot, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

The smallest bird I saw at the refuge was the Pacific golden plover.  It’s a migratory species by nature, but apparently some stay in Hawaii year-round.  The Pacific golden plover is a bit smaller than the European golden plover, but has longer legs, and is a bit slimmer than the American version of the species.

Pacific Golden Plover, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Pacific Golden Plover, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Pacific Golden Plover, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

I also saw some mallard-Hawaiian hybrid ducks.  These ducks, the result of natural interbreeding between the endemic Hawaiian duck (koloa) and mallards, look superficially very much like mallards in terms of coloring, but they’re notably larger and have longer bills.  The native Hawaiian duck is endangered and its numbers appear to be decreasing throughout the state, unfortunately.

Hawaiian-Mallard Hybrid Ducks, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Hawaiian-Mallard Hybrid Ducks, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

I was surprised to find black-crowned night herons at the refuge.  They were all over the place in south Florida and I hadn’t realized that they were found all over the world.  They made some of my best subjects at Kealia Pond.

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Herons, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

Black-Crowned Night Heron, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Maui, Hawaii

It was early afternoon by the time I left Kealia Pond and moved on to what would be the final adventure of Day 13…

Posted by: kerryl29 | March 30, 2020

Hawaii Day 13, Part II: Iao Valley

[If you’re wondering why I’m detailing photographic experiences on this blog as if a pandemic wasn’t ravaging the planet, click here.  Be sure to read the comments.]


When I finished my early morning shoot at Papawai Point I hastily made the 20-odd-minute drive to Iao Valley State Park.  The park is located just west of Wailuku, in the southeast part of the West Maui bulge.  The park gates open at 7 AM…or are supposed to, anyway.  I arrived about five minutes before 7; there was no one else around, but after a few minutes another car showed up…then another.  It was well after 7 and there were at least 10 vehicles waiting to enter when a pickup drove up and someone–an employee of the state park service, I presume–finally unlocked the gates.

Despite the back up at the gate, there weren’t many people present when we entered the park.  I quickly slathered on some sunscreen while standing in the parking lot, then grabbed my gear and made a quick reconaissance of the short official trail network and sized up my photographic options, which were considerably more plentiful than might appear at first glance.  The valley is exceptionally lush, reminiscent of the locations I visited along the Hana Highway or spots on Kauai, and quite a contrast from many of the arid scenes that had dominated my itinerary over the past few days.

The most recognizable symbol in the park is the Iao Needle, a 1200-foot high feature, covered in greenery.  There’s a staircase to n observation deck, which provides a decent view.

Iao Needle Black & White, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Iao Needle, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Most visitors wander up to the observation deck, look at the Needle, and then wander back to their vehicles and leave.  But there are two streams (Iao Stream and Kinihapai Stream) that run through the area that reach a confluence just steps away from the parking area.  I found this general location to be reason enough to hang around for a couple of hours, particularly at a time of day when there aren’t (yet) many people in the park.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Hibiscus blossoms were all over the place.  The Iao Stream area was in open shade while I was in the park, which was helpful.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

I had a pair of waterproof overshoes and I donned them, which allowed me to set up at various spots in the water.

Kinihapai Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Kinihapai Stream Intimate, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

My footwear made it possible to reach certain locations along the stream without getting wet.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

I also found several compositions well up on the bank that I found interesting.

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Lots of locals like to swim in the park’s streams, which have specific spots that work well for this.  There are a number of places where it’s possible to jump from bridges or rocks into deep water pools.  More and more people were engaging in this activity as I was wrapping up that morning.

It had grown increasingly warm as the sun began to dominate the sky that day.  I wrapped up at Iao Valley by late morning and moved off to my next location…

Posted by: kerryl29 | March 23, 2020

Hawaii Day 13, Part I: Papawai Point at Daybreak

Many thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post.  Since the response was unanimous in favor of continuing, that’s what I’ll do for the foreseeable future.  I sincerely hope that reading these accounts and viewing the accompanying images serves as a distraction, albeit brief and inadequate, from the seemingly relentlessly bad read world news we’re all experiencing every day.


 

[If you’re wondering why I’m detailing photographic experiences on this blog as if a pandemic wasn’t ravaging the planet, click here.  Be sure to read the comments.]

 


 

This was the second to last full day of my Hawaii trip and I was determined to make the most of it.  I covered a lot of ground with far too much material to include in a single post so I’m going to break up the chronology into a series of entries–three or four in total; the exact number is still to be determined.  I started the day off with a return to Papawai Point for sunrise; then it was off to Iao Valley State Park, where I spent several hours; my next stop was Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge; and I ended the day with an exploration of south Maui.

This post covers my time at Papawai Point, a spot I originally visited on Day 11.  The sunrise fizzled that morning, but the location’s potential was beyond doubt.  If only conditions would cooperate.  Fortunately, on Day 13, they did.

There was a very interesting, and extensive, cloud formation spanning the eastern and southern skies when I arrived, shortly before the onset of civil twilight.  The views from Papawai Point–an easily accessed overlook right off the Honoapi’ilani Highway (HI-30), best known for whale spotting during the winter months when humpbacks are in the area–are extensive, covering roughly 180 degrees.  As you stand on the point, south Maui–dominated by the hulking presence of Haleakala–unfolds to the left.  Straight ahead lies the southern tip of south Maui, fringed by Molokini, a tiny crescent-shaped island designated as a marine sanctuary.  Continuing the sweeping view to the right, the uninhabited island of Kaho’olawe (the smallest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands, Kaho’olawe has no permanent population and is officially designated as a reserve) is next and, following a wide sweep of ocean, Lanai completes the vista, lying far to the right of one’s gaze.

The cloud formation began to take on color not long after the start of civil twilight and the show unfolded in stages from there.

{To assist those of you interested in the geography, I’ll make brief italicized comments about physical features below some of the images.)

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

The bump you see at the end of the south Maui mainland, near the bottom-center of the frame above, is known as Pu’u Ola’i, a vestige of a centuries-old volcanic eruption.  The little indentation just above the horizon line near the bottom-right part of the frame is Molokini.

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

From left to right, you can again see Pu’u Ola’i and Molokini.  The island in the right-hand corner at the bottom of the frame is Kaho’olawe.

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

The southwest slope of Haleakala undulates to the sea.

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

The color in the upper cloud cover faded to nothing.  Was the sunrise show over?  Hardly.

West Maui Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

That dome in the background is Haleakala.  They surely had a sunrise up there this morning.

The rising sun lit up the clouds over South Maui and the upper strata gradually came to light for the second time that morning.

West Maui Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

The show was in the sky.  I included a minimal amount of sea and land to anchor the compositions and placed the overwhelming emphasis on the part of the scene that was…well, overwhelming.

West Maui Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

West Maui Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

As you can by the changing colors of the clouds, by the time the image above was made, the sun had just crested Haleakala, to the southeast.  I turned my gaze–and camera–to the west.

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

That’s the lightly inhabited island of Lanai–home to the former Dole pineapple plantation–in the background at the right-center of the frame.

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Morning, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

I mentioned the 180-degree views from Papawai Point.  But on this day, photographic interest was extended to 360 degrees.  Across the highway from the point is a rocky bluff, covered by chaotic grasses and dotted with trees.  It’s generally of no particular interest and typically ignored.  But as I was looking around that morning I noticed the sky above this bluff and had to capture the scene.

Sunrise, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise Black & White, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

The sun was climbing in the eastern sky by now–though partially blocked at times by clouds–and I turned back toward south Maui for a parting shot or two.

Morning, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

Morning, Papawai Point, Maui, Hawaii

And with that, it was time to make my way to Iao Valley State Park.  I figured to arrive just about the time the gate opened at 7 AM.  There was a bit of a hiccup upon entry, but it wasn’t long before I began my several hour stay.  I’ll detail that experience in the next post.

Posted by: kerryl29 | March 22, 2020

The Elephant in the Room

In the 10 1/2 years that this blog has existed, I have almost completely avoided writing about anything that doesn’t directly touch on photography and/or blogging.  There have been very few exceptions.  This entry represents one of those rare occasions as I will briefly discuss how the current situation surrounding the novel coronavirus impacts my intentions pertaining to this blog.

Ignoring the virus is like ignoring the elephant in the room; one can act is if it’s not there but doing so seems guided by obliviousness.  The impact of this virus is, after all, affecting almost literally everything, at least in my little part of the world.  I’m currently holed up in northeast Illinois, where the entire state is under a stay home order.  Day-to-day routines have been interrupted–as they have all over the world–to the point where they can’t even be recognized anymore.  Fear and uncertainty are rampant, and understandably so.  As I type these words early Saturday evening, the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center puts the number of confirmed and presumptive positive cases of coronavirus worldwide at 304,526 and the number of fatalities from the disease at 12,973.  By the time you read this, those numbers will be significantly higher.  No one can say with any sort of conviction when this pandemic will crest or whether multiple additional spikes in new cases are in our future.  We are living through a very dark time.

Under the circumstances, as things relate to this blog, I have asked myself two questions:

  1. Do I want to continue to post regular entries, as I have been doing for years?
  2. If the answer to question #1 is yes, is it appropriate to do so?

The answer to question #1 is yes, at least for the time being.  There’s something broadly therapeutic, I think, in maintaining at least some shred of normality to the rhythms of day-to-day life, so as long as I feel I have something to write about, I’d like to continue doing so.

I believe question #2 is a bit trickier; I can make a pretty cogent case either way.  But, unless I hear differently from the readership of this blog, I’m gong to operate under the assumption that these forthcoming posts, devoid as they will be of virus-related content, may serve as brief distractions, microscopic though they may be, for those who choose to read them.  I reserve the right to alter these plans, but for the time being I’m going to push forth.  If anyone feels differently, please feel free to let me know.

Stay healthy, everyone.

Posted by: kerryl29 | March 16, 2020

The Story Behind the Image: Serendipity

Sometimes, you just get lucky.

During an autumn trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 2013, I paid a pre-dawn visit to Council Lake.  I’ve shot at Council Lake many, many times over the years I’ve visited the Upper Peninsula, experiencing a variety of conditions.  The principal shooting perspective at Council Lake is north-by-northwest–obviously not in the direction of sunrise–but the best time of day to shoot there, I’ve found, is first thing in the morning.  Despite the lack of a sunrise orientation, there’s still excellent light to be utilized early in the morning and this is the time–at this location anyway–when wind is typically the lightest, making for very good reflection opportunities.

It certainly didn’t look promising for anything particularly noteworthy that morning, but every once in awhile you get something special when you least expect it, and if you’re not in a position to take advantage of it, you’re sure to miss out.

So, about an hour before sunrise, I headed off to Council Lake, which is roughly a 20-minute drive from where I was staying.  On the drive, I noticed that it was almost entirely cloudy.  There was, however, a very thin band of light near the eastern horizon. I took note of it, and hoped that it would mean that something interesting might happen at sunrise.  My hopes were tempered by the occasional spurts of light rain that hit the windshield.

When I reached Council Lake, it was still dark, but there were two photographers already there.  These women had moved their vehicle in a position where the headlights lit up some trees on the far bank of the lake–a kind of a light-painting exercise, which was kind of interesting.  But as it began to become lighter, they turned off the headlights and we all began to engage in ambient light photography.

As the appointed time of sunrise approached, it was still socked in clouds and, every so often, some light rain fell.  Sunrise appeared to be a rumor this morning. After I’d been on site for perhaps 20 minutes, I heard another vehicle on the access road.  Someone got out and approached me; this gentleman asked me if this was Red Jack Lake.  I told him no; Red Jack Lake is accessed via a spur from Council Lake Road.  I told him that, to reach Red Jack, he needed to go back down the road in the direction he’d come from and take the first left–in perhaps 1/4 mile. After 1000 feet or so, he’d find himself at Red Jack.  He thanked me and openly pondered whether he should head over there or just stay at Council Lake.  The rest of us returned to shooting.

After a minute or so the newcomer said, “Hey, look at that rainbow!”  We’d all been so engrossed in what we were doing–mostly reflection shots or isolated telephoto images–that none of us had noticed that a full rainbow had appeared, arching over the trees on the north bank of the lake.  Everyone stopped and looked…and there it was.  And, not surprisingly, everyone rearranged what they were doing to take advantage of the newly discovered–and breathtaking–scene.

Council Lake Rainbow, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

I had my 24-70 mm lens mounted on my camera at the time and used it to compose a couple of shots, racking all the way back to 24mm.  This got me a nice image or two, but this was a full rainbow and I wanted to include all of it–and as much of the reflection as possible–in the frame, and 24mm simply wasn’t wide enough (see above).  Not even close, in fact.  If I backed up I could include more of the rainbow in my image, but it would also introduce a number of elements that I didn’t want in the frame.  There was still some light rain falling and time was a-wasting.  So now I faced a dilemma: should I scramble and try to change lenses, putting my ultra wide-angle 14-24 mm lens on?  Or should I try and shoot a series of frames with the 24-70 that I would later attempt to stitch together into a wider-looking single shot?

I decided to switch lenses.  Both approaches would take time–and there was the possibility that the rainbow, which had already been visible for a couple of minutes–would fade.  The problem with the stitching option was that I really wasn’t prepared for it.  The tripod would have to be leveled and I would face possible issues of parallax if I didn’t get things just right on set up, which could kill the stitch.  While switching lenses–with rain coming down–was far from ideal, I thought it gave me the best chance to get at least one image of this phenomenon, so I found my backpack (which was perched on a picnic table, about 50 feet away), grabbed the 14-24, a back lens cap and a body cap and made the switch as rapidly as I could.

I was lucky. Not only did the rainbow not fade, it had become more intense in the time that I had made up my mind to change lenses and the light, if anything, was even nicer. Having completed the lens swap, I recomposed the shot, made sure the camera was level, confirmed exposure, verified focus and fired away.  I got several shots in before the rainbow began fading.  Eventually it disappeared completely, but it was visible for 5-7 minutes all told.  As I mentioned, in addition to the full rainbow itself, the quality of light during a few minutes of its appearance was absolutely exquisite.

Morning Rainbow, Council Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

It was another lesson in simply being there.

Posted by: kerryl29 | March 9, 2020

Hawaii Day 12: Haleakala Crater

A popular thing to do on Maui is to head up to the Haleakala Crater rim for sunrise.  It’s so popular now, in fact, that the National Park Service (NPS) requires a reservation to carry out the act.  The fee is nominal (something like $1.50 per car), so it’s not a case of gouging.  Apparently sunrise at the rim was so high in demand that the parking lots up there were overflowing every morning and, in an attempt to keep things from becoming a total circus, NPS established this system.  You have to sign up in advance to obtain a reservation and if you don’t do so  something like six weeks in advance, you can forget it.  A small number of slots are held over until the day before, but you have sign up on-line at a specific hour of the morning a day in advance.

I didn’t find out about all of this (“You need a reservation to see the sunrise in a national park?”) until about three weeks before I was planning to leave for Hawaii so literally every day that I was to be on Maui was sold out before I had a chance to do anything about it.  That would limit me to either taking a crack at the day-before lottery or just forgetting it entirely.  I chose the latter.

I have to say, I’m truly amazed that the tourist crowd is so besotted with the idea of viewing sunrise from the rim that they’d overflow the lots.  Sunrise time at Haleakala doesn’t change much throughout the year (a product of the latitude and the fact that daylight savings time isn’t observed in Hawaii–it’s entirely unnecessary, given how little the number of daylight hours changes throughout the year).  Sunrise ranges from 5:30, on the early side, to shortly before 7 AM, on the late side, depending on the specific date with the former being on and around the summer solstice and the latter being on and around the winter solstice.  (When I was there, it was around 6:15.)  But what does that mean practically?  Most tourists stay in either south Maui or West Maui, and it’s a solid two hour drive to get up to the rim, depending on where you’re coming from and how aggressively you drive…particularly after reaching the winding park road that makes up the final segment of the trip.  You’d want to be there…oh, I’d say at least 30 minutes before sunrise, even if you’re not a photographer (most people attending aren’t) and just want to view the spectacle.  Assuming you can be ready to be out the door 30 minutes after you get up…well, you see where I’m going with this.  Assuming a 6:15 sunrise, Joe Tourist is going to have to arise somewhere in the neighborhood of 2:45 AM to make it up to the rim on time.  What self-respecting tourist is going to do that?

What’s more, there’s no guarantee that you’re even going to see the sunrise.  Haleakala Crater–the rim is approximately 10,000 feet above sea level–is frequently swathed in clouds.  And it’s cold up there!  This is Hawaii, so there’s a kind of tourist ignorance at work, but at the warmest times of the day the temperature at the rim rarely exceeds 60 F.  It is frequently below freezing at daybreak, and is often windy.  Legends abound involving tourists shivering in flip flops and shorts, waiting for the (damn) sun to rise (already!) so they can get back in their vehicles and turn the heat on full blast.

And yet, despite all of that, there are more people who want (or think they want) to observe the sunrise from the rim than can be accommodated.

I had made up my mind that this–my fourth full day on Maui–was to be the day I was going to spend time at the Crater.  Knowing that I couldn’t get into the park (without a sunrise reservation) until 7 AM or thereabouts, I timed my departure that morning with the thought that I’d find some spots along the park road to photograph sunrise.  There were plenty of clouds when I departed Kihei that morning and there were still quite a few when ambient light rose, as I neared the turnoff to Haleakala in Maui’s Upcountry.  Still, I found a few opportunities to stop along the way.

West Maui at Sunrise from the Park Road, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

2 West Maui at Sunrise from the Park Road, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Rainbow from the Park Road, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

West Maui Morning from the Park Road, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

West Maui Morning from the Park Road, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

The partly to mostly cloudy skies gave way to more or less entirely socked in fog/clouds as I reached the visitors center, at around 7000 feet above sea level.  As I climbed beyond that, and approached the first of several crater overlooks, the fog loomed everywhere.  It was chilly and windy, with occasional drizzle.  I didn’t stop at any of the overlooks–there didn’t appear to be much point under the circumstances–and followed the road all the way up to the second park visitors center, which is located just a half mile’s drive below the rim, where the road ends.  The visitors center was open and I went in and spoke with the ranger on duty for a few minutes, mostly asking about the weather and the likelihood that it might clear up.  He shrugged.  “We never know,” he said.  “It’s completely unpredictable.”  I asked him if there had been a sunrise for the throngs that had driven up that morning.  “Nope,’ he said.  “Not so much as a glimmer.”  That explained the sour faces I’d seen from the occupants of the countless cars that had been exiting the park as I’d driven in.

What to do?  It was still early in the morning and I’d planned to spend pretty much the entire day up at the crater.  The current weather was miserable, but it might get better.  As long as I was up here, I thought, I might as well hang around and see what might happen.

I drove back down the park road a few miles and stopped at the lot for one of the overlooks–Kalahaku Overlook, to be specific.  There was one other car in the entire fog-strewn lot when I pulled in, and just as I was getting out of my car, two young women were returning to there’s.  I didn’t even have to ask them how things appeared from the overlook, which was about a quarter of a mile down a trail which, with foreboding, was all but obscured in the swirling fog.  “You can’t see anything!” one of them blurted to me.  The other just nodded, then added “It’s so disappointing.”  I thanked them for the scouting report and they then drove off, leaving me in the otherwise deserted lot.  I figured I’d check out the overlook anyway and, even though I figured it was a waste of time, I brought my gear with me.  The trail was so short I figured why not?

In a few minutes I was at the overlook.  It was extremely windy, but there was a large plexiglass shield which formed a kind of shelter, like a bus stop along a city street.  That was nice because it got me out of the wind, but it was clear that the two women had reported things accurately: absolutely nothing of the crater was visible.  I put my things on a bench and waited.  I had dressed appropriately for the weather; the air temperature was in the mid 40s F at this point.  It was a solid 40 degrees colder than I’d experienced just about everywhere I’d been in Hawaii up to that point.

The wind kept blowing fog all over the place but I still couldn’t see anything.  And then, after about 15 minutes, a rocky promontory briefly came into view.  I stood there and watched as the clouds and fog began to lift, just a bit….then a bit more.  I set up my tripod and pulled out my camera in anticipation.  And, like magic, parts of the crater began to be revealed.

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

I found the combination of the mysterious clouds, the occasional piercing of sunshine, and the lunar like surface inside the crater fascinating.  The tapestry was ever-changing with the capriciousness of the fog and wind.

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook Black & White, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook Black & White, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from the Kalahaku Overlook, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

After a solid 20-30 minutes, the window of sight began to close and within two more minutes it was effectively gone.  I felt convinced that it would open again, eventually, but I didn’t know exactly when and, rather than hang around, I decided to return to the rim and do some hiking on a trail that I’d identified during my research on the Crater:  the Keone’ehe’e (or Sliding Sands) Trail, which starts near the upper visitors center and descends deep into the crater.  It networks with many other trails down in the crater and you can take it more or less as far as you like, but it’s worth noting two things:  first, the trail descends relentlessly, which means that you’re going to have to ascend relentlessly to return to the trailhead; and second, you’re starting a hike at 10,000 feet elevation.  It’s pretty thin air at that altitude, so you have to be prepared to deal with that fact; coupled with the steepness of the trail, you can get pretty gassed on the way back if you’re not ready to deal with it.  I’ve done some significant hiking at an even higher altitude before, most recently when I was in Colorado a few years ago and hiked the Bear Creek Trail above 11,000 feet (round trip distance of that hike was roughly nine miles).

It was cloudy/foggy when I started the hike but I hoped that, as had been the case at the Kalahaku Overlook, that would change.  And it did.  Clouds/fog rolled in and out and back in and back out throughout the entirety of what ended up being approximately a six-mile round trip hike.

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

The inside of the crater is a truly remarkable landscape; I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  The constantly shifting fog really added to the dynamic nature of the scenery, speckled as it is with silverswords.

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

In addition to the clouds changing the direct feel of the landscape by revealing or obscuring certain features, they also cast a remarkable set of shadows on the colorful, but batten, crater floor when enough of a gap existed to let the sunshine through.

Crater Cloud Shadows Black & White, Keone’ehe’e_Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e_Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail Black & White, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Keone’ehe’e Trail Black & White, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

I ended up hiking roughly three miles into the crater, which meant I had to hike three miles out.  That return hike was a bit of a slog.  Some of the crater images you see above were taken on the way back, which helped break up the monotony a bit, but I was fairly tired when I got back to the trailhead in the middle of the afternoon.  I moved the half mile up to the rim overlook for a parting shot.

Haleakala Crater from the Rim, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Things were clouding up substantially–again–at this point.  The cloud cover might well lift again…but it might not and I didn’t much feel like sticking around to find out.  I had enough time to drive back down to sea level and take in sunset–assuming there was one–from the beach right next to the hotel where I was staying.  And that worked out brilliantly, as luck would have it.

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach stretches for a couple of miles in South Maui, and where I was staying was at the northern edge of it.  To the south runs nearly two miles of uninterrupted sand, but just steps to the north–literally, no more than about 200 feet–from my beach access was this splendid rocky area, filled with spits of sand and tidepools.  Now dressed in shorts and a t-shirt in the 80-degree (F) weather, I wandered out to this area with my gear and watched the western sky as it was gradually enveloped in a dreamy Hawaiian sunset, dropping the curtain on another long day of photography.

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Keawakapu Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Posted by: kerryl29 | March 2, 2020

Just Do It

I’ll get back to the Hawaii chronology next time.  What follows is a public service announcement.

Oneida Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

I don’t believe I’ve ever discussed the subject of image (and other) file backups on this blog prior to now, largely because the boredom typically induced when reading about the subject is only surpassed by the boredom induced when writing about the subject.  But the truth is, sleep producing or not, it’s a subject of critical importance, as I was reminded just a few days ago.  (More on that below.)

Beauty Creek Reflecting Pool at Sunset, Jasper National Park, Alberta

A bit more than five years ago I put together an article on image organization that was posted on the now dormant 1001 Scribbles, when I had a guest blogging gig there.  The main thrust of the piece wasn’t backups but I did broach the subject.  To wit:

Nothing, in my opinion, is more important when it comes to image management than establishing and religiously following a well thought-out, comprehensive backup plan.

I have four—yes, four—full copies of all of my image files, RAW and processed, arrayed across a total of six dedicated external hard drives.  Two full sets of files are kept in each of two places, roughly 1100 miles apart.  If you think this is extreme…well, it may be, but I’d much rather be safe than sorry.  I back up my files after literally every image editing session.

As always, you don’t necessarily have to do what I’m doing, but what you should do at a minimum:

  • Back up your files regularly.  Here, I don’t think I’m being extreme at all. Every time you add or change a file, run a backup (assuming you don’t have a system that includes backing up in real time).
  • Don’t settle for any fewer than three backups.  Why isn’t two enough?  Let’s say that something goes wrong during a backup. Your original file set can be compromised and so can your backup.  In one miserable moment, all of your images could go poof.
  • If at all possible, keep at least one backup in a remote location.  That way, if something catastrophic happens to one place (a house catching fire, for instance) you’ll still have a full copy of your images.  The “remote location” doesn’t have to be 1100 miles away (I only do that because I split my time naturally between two places), but it should be somewhere other than the same structure.  A number of people I know keep a backup hard drive in a safety deposit box at a bank.

Waterfall, Ash Cave, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

I stand by all of the above; it remains good, solid advice.  And why am I bringing it up again now?  No, I didn’t have a recent event involving the loss of image files…but I did have the next worst thing.

Lily Meadow, Obstruction Point Road, Olympic National Park, Washington

I still use Adobe Bridge CS6 for image organization.  Included in my workflow is an extensive keyword list that I’ve built up over the span of something like 12 years.  The list is dynamic; I add to it regularly as I visit new locations–and occasionally old ones as well.  A few nights ago, while processing and keywording images from my trip to Big Bend National Park a few weeks ago, a big chunk of that list was accidentally deleted.  I lost the entire part of my list dealing with general image subjects, a component that included a few hundred keywords and one that I use for every image I process.

Fern Forest, Riverbend Park, Palm Beach County, Florida

I was positive that the file that contains the keyword list was among those files being copied every time I performed a backup (which is done after every processing session I conduct).  Guess what?  I was wrong.  The file wasn’t backed up anywhere.  This meant that I had to recreate the subject part of the list, which was a major pain.  I was able to find a freeware program that would extract the keywords from every file, but they were in a massive, redundant jumble.  I spent at least 10 hours over parts of two days parsing that file to recreate the full list.  It could have been much, much worse, of course, but it was plenty bad enough.

White Trillium, Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

I have now made certain that the keyword list file is regularly being backed up (multiple times) with each editing session.  Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistake.  Make sure that you back up every file that is important to you–not just photography-related files:  everything.  Don’t wait for something to go wrong to take action.  Doing so would be like purchasing homeowner’s insurance after your house burns down.

Koyukuk River at Sunset, Brooks Range, Alaska

Posted by: kerryl29 | February 24, 2020

Hawaii Day 11: West Maui

Earlier in this series I posted a piece talking about all of the portions of the landscape on the islands I visited that don’t fit the Hawaii stereotype.  To those, add a substantial chunk of West Maui.  West Maui is loosely defined as virtually all of the island contained by the northwest semi-circle evident when you look at a map of Maui, less the Iao Valley.  West Maui was where I planned to spend the bulk of my third full day on the island.

First, I needed a convenient sunrise spot and I decided to check out Papawai Point, conveniently located right off HI-30 and right on the way from Kihei, where I was staying, to the West Maui coastal area beginning north of Lahaina.  The sunrise turned out to be a bit of dud but I made a few images nonetheless and determined that if there was a good sunrise later in the trip, this would be a very good location from which to photograph it, given the 180-degree views, easy access and various compositional choices at hand.

Molokini from Papawai Point at Dawn, Maui, Hawaii

Papawai Point at Dawn, Maui, Hawaii

Papawai Point Black & White, Maui, Hawaii

Papawai Point Morning, Maui, Hawaii

This was shaping up to be a mostly cloudy morning and early afternoon, so I made my way north along the coast, past Ka’anapali to Kapalua, to explore part of the Kapalua Coastal Trail.  Before doing so, however, I visited the nearby area known as Dragon’s Teeth,

Dragon’s Teeth Trail, Makaluapuna Point, Maui, Hawaii

Dragon’s Teeth Trail Black & White, Makaluapuna Point, Maui, Hawaii

This twisted, sculpted lava/rock formation, right on the water, sits on Makaluapuna Point, just past the golf course of one of the expensive Kapalua resorts.  It’s a fascinating place, and another locale for which “that’s Hawaii?” has routinely been incredulously asked of me when displaying these images to others.

The northern trailhead for the Kapalua Coastal Trail is only about a half-mile from the Dragon’s Teeth parking area, so I went there next to do some exploring.  The trail begins on the bluff above Mokuleia Beach and fans out to the west and south for several miles, with numerous side trails that cover some of the oceanside cliffs along the route.  The light wasn’t ideal, but I found numerous compelling locations.

Kapalua Coastal Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Kapalua Coastal Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Lanai from the Kapalua Coastal Trail Black & White, Maui, Hawaii

I didn’t hike the entire length of the trail, but held out the possibility of returning later in the trip, time permitting, to cover more of it in (hopefully) more flattering light.

I made my way farther north along the coast, stopping at a couple of overlooks to make images.

West Maui Ocean Overlook Black & White, Makaluapuna Point, Maui, Hawaii

Finally, I reached the spot that was the jumping off point for a hike to the Nakalele Blowhole.  The hike isn’t really an official trail, but it follows the coast past some crazy rock formations (more on this in a bit) on the way to the blowhole.  It’s possible to make a much shorter hike, from farther up the road, to the blowhole, but then you miss out on this wild part of the West Maui coast.

The guidebook I was using refers to the intermediate area with the rock formations as the “Acid War Zone” (because it appears that someone dumped acid on the rocks in this arid area).

Unnamed Blowhole Black & White, Acid War Zone, Nakalele Blowhole Trail, Maui, Hawaii

The lava formations in this area have been sculpted over the years by the wind, the water and the combination of the two in the form of salt spray, and they are indeed fascinating, more reminiscent of numerous locations in the desert southwest of the continental United States (such as the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico) than anywhere else I’ve been.

Acid War Zone, Nakalele Blowhole Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Acid War Zone Black & White, Nakalele Blowhole Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Acid War Zone, Nakalele Blowhole Trail, Maui, Hawaii

It’s easy to forget where you are…except for the pulsating sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the headlands 50-100 feet behind you.

Ocean Overlook Black & White, Nakalele Blowhole Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Ocean Overlook, Nakalele Blowhole Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Eventually–after perhaps a mile, though it feels farther because some backtracking and serpentine wandering in this area is inevitable–you arrive on a shelf above the Nakalele Blowhole.  It’s a simple matter to climb down to blowhole level.

The blowhole is impressive…even when the tide isn’t super high.  And you can get much, much closer to it than the Spouting Horn on Kauai.

Nakalele Blowhole, Maui, Hawaii

Nakalele Blowhole, Maui, Hawaii

Nakalele Blowhole, Maui, Hawaii

Back on the road I bypassed the access area to the feature known as the Olivine Pools.  The roadside was jammed with cars, so I figured I’d move forward and come back later.  My next stop was at the Ohai Trail, a pleasant, if largely unremarkable 1.5-ish mile loop.

Ohai Trail, Maui, Hawaii

There were several nice displays of wildflowers along the trail.

Ohai Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Ohai Trail, Maui, Hawaii

There were also some nice overlooks along the way.

Ohai Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Next on the agenda was what I termed the Mushroom Rock Trail.  Mushroom Rock is a formation on a promontory above the ocean, situated on a wild part of the coast, where large waves beat up on the shoreline incessantly.  The trail, such as it is, navigates a rock strewn bluff, and it requires a careful traversing of a steep hillside to approach Mushroom Rock directly.  It’s not a particularly difficult walk, but it does require some care.  There are numerous coastal views along the way.

Coastal Overlook Black & White Mushroom Rock Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Coastal Overlook, Mushroom Rock Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Coastal Overlook Black & White Mushroom Rock Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Mushroom Rock Trail Black & White, Maui, Hawaii

Mushroom Rock, Mushroom Rock Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Mushroom Rock, Mushroom Rock Trail, Maui, Hawaii

Mushroom Rock, Mushroom Rock Trail, Maui, Hawaii

It was late afternoon at this point and I returned to the Olivine Pools area and, sure enough, there were far fewer vehicles parked on the road near the trailhead, so I stopped and made the hike down to the water.  The Olivine Pools are a kind of natural ocean-water swimming pool. formed by lava flows.  High tides and big waves wash into the pools regularly, cleansing and replenishing them.  People like to frolic and swim in the pools, though doing so during rough seas is extremely dangerous.  If a wave washes over the adjoining natural breakwater anyone in the pools will be tossed around by the force of the water, which could cause injury, possibly serious.  In high seas, the possibility of being swept over the breakwater into the open ocean is a very real threat.  People have, in fact, been injured and a few have been killed at this site.

I didn’t get in the pools myself or, for that matter, get particularly close to the breakwater.  I surveyed the scene from well up on the bluff above this area before descending carefully to water level.  There were about a half a dozen people in the pools when I was there and another few milling about the periphery (some of them shockingly close, in my estimation, to the breakwater itself and a few of them actually climbing on the perimeter lava wall).  The tide was out and the surf wasn’t incredibly high, but I was still amazed how cavalier many of the people at the site were.  There were, in fact, some big waves and, before I vacated the scene, I saw a couple of waves breech the breakwater.

When I was up on the bluff, I didn’t regard the swimming pools to be of particular photographic interest.  And when I descended all the way down to water level I lost any interest I might have had in photographing the swimming pools, captivated as I was by some of the other features I discovered, such as the boulder-filled cave/pool I found…

Olivne Pools, Maui, Hawaii

…and the smooth crevice filled with rounded rocks…

Olivne Pools Intimate Black & White, Maui, Hawaii

Olivne Pools Intimate, Maui, Hawaii

Olivne Pools, Maui, Hawaii

Olivne Pools Black & White, Maui, Hawaii

It was a fairly long drive back to Kihei and it was rapidly approaching sunset when I arrived at the now-familiar Wailea Point area–Polo Beach, specifically.  Late as it was, I didn’t have time to check out another location before losing the light, so I returned to this spot for the third time in the last four evenings.  I think it went pretty well…

Palm Evening, Polo Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Palm Evening, Polo Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Sunset Sail, Polo Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

West Maui Mountain at Sunset from Wailea Point, Maui, Hawaii

Posted by: kerryl29 | February 18, 2020

Hawaii Day 10: The Kipahulu District

As I detailed in the second installment chronicling Day 9 of my trip to Hawaii last year, by the time I reached the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park, on the far western edge of the Hana Highway, it was well into the afternoon, the parking lot was jammed and it was too late to spend any meaningful time there.  But I did want to explore the area–the ‘Ohe’o Gulch (a.k.a. the “Seven Sacred Pools”) and the Pipiwai Trail, in particular–so I knew I would be back at some point during my time on Maui.  As a function of the weather forecast, it turned out that the very next day was the best time to return, so that’s what I did.

Given the location of the Kipahulu District relative to the rest of the Hana Highway, it’s pretty enticing to approach it from the west, rather than doing that I had done the previous day.  As I noted in the first installment covering Day 9, I made the clockwise drive; heading from south Kihei, I photographed sunrise at Ho’okipa Lookout and then continued the long drive to the east and south.  This made sense given that I wanted to explore all of these areas of the Hana Highway.  But, since I wanted to reach Kipahulu as quickly as possible on Day 10, I had to question whether it made sense to approach the area from the north.  The drive from Kihei to Kipahulu would, I guessed, take something like three hours and it would mean negotiating move than 50 miles of the winding, blind curve strewn, one-lane bridge laden Hana Highway.  Didn’t it make sense to approach it from the other direction?

The answer was maybe,  There is a road that accesses the area from the west, but to get to it from Kihei you still have to drive all the way to Kahalui, then head to Muai’s Upcountry area via HI-37 and then drive through the barren, deserted region of southwest Maui on the somewhat sketchy Pillani Highway (a Maui County road).  At first glance, it seems like little to choose from.  The northern route–the one I took on Day 9–is 73 miles.  The Upcountry route is 65 or so.  But the second option is estimated to shave more than a half an hour off the trip.  Besides, I hadn’t seen this area before.  So, the Upcountry route it was.  I figured I’d leave in the predawn darkness and would find a place to shoot sunrise along the way.  Maybe.

I drove for about an hour and was beginning my descent from the Upcountry area of Maui into the unpopulated southwest nether regions of the island when day began to break.  I was on a very, very lightly traveled two-lane road at this point but couldn’t find anywhere to pull over until I saw a sign for Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Park.  You may well be wondering why there is a park on Maui dedicated to the memory of Sun Yat-Sen.  I know I was.  Dr, Sun Yat-Sen (yes, he was a physician) was a key leader in the early 20th Century Chinese democracy movement–the first leader of the republic that was established after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.  I knew all that.  But what has that to do with Hawaii?  Turns out that his brother had a home on Maui and, for parts of 31 years, Sun Yat-Sen lived there.  That part I hadn’t known, but it explains the motivation for the park, which was founded in this relatively obscure portion of Maui’s Upcountry in 1989.

The park was completely deserted–save for a fairly noisy group of feral chickens–when I arrived.  Since the light was changing by the minute, I hustled.  I found a spot with a view overlooking the islands of Molokini (the small semi-circle) and Kaho’olawe (the much larger island in the background), and made a couple of images.

Kaho’olawe at Daybreak from Sun Yat Sen Park, Maui, Hawaii

Back on the road, I continued to descend toward sea level and the road began to deteriorate a bit.  I was driving through a barren area that is about as uncharacteristic of the Hawaiian stereotype as could be imagined.  In addition to the arid, rocky landscape–this is the south side of Haleakala Crater–I passed the occasional herd of feral goats, with virtually no signs of human existence other than the winding, bumpy road itself.  If not for views of the ocean off to my right, I would have sworn I was in New Mexico or Arizona.

There was a haunting beauty to this landscape and, eventually, I was inspired to pull off the road and capture some of what I was seeing in the diffused light of morning.

South Side of Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

South Side of Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

As I continued to journey east, the road deteriorated further, to the point where the pavement ultimately disappeared altogether.  I was now on a rather poorly maintained unpaved road.  Now I understood why practically no one comes this way.  As I got closer and closer to the Kipahulu District, the road got worse and worse.  It never reached the point where I was concerned that I couldn’t make it through, but I had to slow to a crawl not infrequently, dodging bumps and potholes.  In an earlier installment I talked about the reputation that the old Hana Highway had (and to some degree still has), based on horrible maintenance.  The part of the Pillani Highway that I was now on reminded me an awful lot of that old Hana Highway.

After passing some fascinating locations (including a huge, rocky black sand/boulder beach) that I regretfully didn’t have time to investigate closely, the road improved again (it was now paved and decently maintained), and I arrived at the entrance to the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park.  It was still quite early in the morning–long before the tourist crowd would arrive en masse–so the parking lot was almost empty.  The entrance station was manned; I paid my fee and the park ranger told me that the ‘O’heo Gulch pools were closed to bathing today.  No problem, I thought.  Good, in fact, because bathers would just get in the way of my photography.  I wasn’t interested in going in the water myself.  I hustled to a parking spot, slathered myself with sunscreen, even though it was still mostly cloudy, and quickly hit the relatively short ‘O’heo Gulch Trail.  After winding my way through forest for about 1/3 of a mile I reached the gulch’s cliff side.

‘O’heo Gulch is quite a sight and I couldn’t wait to make a close exploration of the area.  But I quickly discovered that “closed to bathing” really meant closed to everyone.  You could look at the gulch, and its pools, from up on the trail, but you weren’t allowed to descend to water level.  That was disappointing.  But I decided to try and make the best of it.

‘Ohe’o Gulch, Koloa Point Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

‘O’heo Gulch is where a high country stream, one that emanates from far up the Haleakala mountainside, empties directly into the ocean.  It does so as a series of waterfalls and cascades before accessing a black sand beach and then, the Pacific itself.

‘Ohe’o Gulch, Koloa Point Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

I think you can see fairly readily why I was disappointed in the inability to descend to water level.

‘Ohe’o Gulch, Koloa Point Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

The bridge you see in the above image carries the Hana Highway itself.

‘Ohe’o Gulch, Koloa Point Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

The confluence of the stream and ocean can be seen in the image below.

‘Ohe’o Gulch Convergence, Koloa Point Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

The trail, which probably doesn’t run more than about 3/4 of a mile all told, loops around through a forest, higher up in the gulch.

‘Ohe’o Gulch, Koloa Point Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Before I knew it, I was back to the parking lot and preparing to take on the Pipiwai Trail.  This trail runs for about two miles along the stream and terminates at the 400-foot Waimoku Falls.  Along the way, another tall waterfall is passed, the hiker has numerous views of the stream and passes through an extensive bamboo forest.  The trail isn’t very steep or particularly long, so what you mainly have to deal with is the heat and humidity, both of which are considerable.  The trail itself is notoriously crowded, though by getting a relatively early start I beat the worst of the crowds.  When I was on my way back, things were beginning to get a bit out of hand.

In any case, the first attraction along the trail is Makahiku Falls, about half a mile up the trail.  it’s a very impressive waterfall (a 200-foot tall gusher), but the photographic options are extremely limited, as all you’ve got is an overlook view.

Makahiku Falls, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

There are plenty of options to access and photograph the creek itself and its unnamed smaller waterfalls, if you’re so inclined.  I did a bit of this myself.

Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

Then comes the bamboo forest.  If you haven’t been through one–particularly one this thick–you’re in for quite an experience.

Bamboo Forest, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

Bamboo Forest Black & White, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

Bamboo Forest, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

Shortly after emerging from the bamboo forest, you begin to hear Waimoku Falls before you see it.  Eventually, however, it comes into view.

Waimoku Falls, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

The stream has to be crossed a couple of times and that’s either relatively easy or fairly difficult, depending on water flow.  I was able to scramble my way across fairly easily.  The last crossing puts you smack in front of the waterfall.  The spray is so intense–it reminded me of what it was like getting close to Bridalveil Falls, or Lower Yosemite Falls, in Yosemite National Park–it’s impossible to photograph from this spot without water droplets getting all over your lens.

So, I retreated behind the first crossing, found a spot right along the creek and went to work.

Waimoku Falls, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

Waimoku Falls, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

And then, I had something of an eye-opening experience.  I was standing astride the stream, with one tripod leg in a couple of inches of water, and made the image you see below.

Waimoku Falls, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

I then adjusted my position slightly, with one tripod leg still in the water.  I was looking down–messing with the controls on the camera or adjusting the tripod, I don’t recall exactly–when I heard what sounded something like a crash, in the direction of the falls.  I looked up, somewhat startled, but didn’t see anything noteworthy.  Then made the image you see below.

Waimoku Falls, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

No change, right?  Look again.  Take a look at the waterfall.  Can you see how much more water is coursing through it?  The “crash” I heard was a wall of water firing down the cliffside.  In a matter of seconds–less than 10 certainly–I noticed the creek itself start to rise.  Suddenly, that tripod leg that was in two inches of water was in something more like 10 inches of water.  I quickly pulled my tripod out of the creek and myself a couple of steps back from the creekside itself, which was now lapping against my feet (I had been at least a foot clear of the water previously).  And the water in the creek itself had turned a chocolatey brown color.

What clearly had happened was that a flash flood, somewhere upstream on the mountain, out of sight, had taken place and I was now seeing the effects.  The creek itself was still rising, right in front of my eyes.  All of this had taken place in a near blink of an eye.  I remembered that I still had to cross the creek one more time just to get back to the main section of the trail, and I very quickly got my things together and reached the creek crossing.  What had been a simple matter to clear the creek earlier was now going to be a lot more difficult as the water level was much, much higher now.  Rocks that had been high and dry and easily accessible were now wet or completely submerged in the creek.  And this was all taking place as the trail had become much more crowded than it had been earlier in the day.  People were trying to cross the stream in the opposite direction, and struggling to do so.

I managed to cross the stream without incident and, once safely on the far bank, took a couple of parting long lens shots of the falls.

Waimoku Falls Sectional, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

On the way down, I stopped at an impressive ancient banyan tree that had caught my eye on the hike in.

Banyan Tree, Pipawai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maii, Hawaii

On the hike back to the trailhead I noticed that the stream was running much move heavily than it had on the way up and, again, was a deep brown as all the extra flow dragged an immeasurable amount of topsoil along with it.

When I got back to the parking area, I made a detour to the park’s visitor’s center where I buttonholed a ranger.  This gentleman, a native Hawaiian who had been working as a ranger for the National Park Service for more than 15 years, proved to be a font of information.  I told him about my experience up at the falls and he asked me several pointed questions about the conditions I’d observed.  After absorbing my answers he shook his head and said, “see, this is why we close the pools so often.  We’re routinely criticized for being ‘overprotective,’ but the truth is these kinds of events happen essentially without warning.  We get a forecast about an upstream downpour, but we’re never sure exactly when it’s going to happen, if it’s going to happen at all.  But if if does, the effects are going to be felt before we can do anything about them.”

He was right.  The guidebook that I was using on this trip had an entire section railing on the park service for closing certain areas–including the ‘Ohe’o Gulch pools–far too frequently and gratuitously.  But I’d had a first hand glance as to why the claims of cavalier behavior on the part of the park service might be a bit overwrought.

It was mid-afternoon and sunny by the time I finished the hike and I decided not to try to photograph along the Hana Highway, given how crowded things were and given that the sunny skies weren’t flattering to the waterfalls.  Instead, rather than retracing my steps on the awful part of the Pillani Highway, I decided to take the Hana Highway north and exit the area that way.  I got back to Kihei late in the afternoon and decided to spend the rest of the daylight hours photographing along the same section of coastline as I had on Day 8:  Wailea Point.  I was now familiar with the location and, having been sidetracked the previous visit by the discovery that my ultrawide angle lens was on the fritz, I was anxious to get back there and perhaps cover some of the ground I had missed.

The light was already very nice when I arrived.

 

Wailea Point Evening, Maui, Hawaii

Wailea Point Evening, Maui, Hawaii

It was during this shoot that I discovered yet another equipment problem.  While my workhorse 24-70/2.8 lens was fully functional, the rubber grip on the zoom part of the lens was loose and coming off.  Great.  I knew that I’d have to be very careful with the lens for the rest of the trip–another 4-5 days–because if this lens stopped functioning my photography would be at an end.

I tried to put the new lens problem out of my mind and not have it ruin another evening of shooting.

Wailea Point Evening, Maui, Hawaii

Wailea Point Evening, Maui, Hawaii

Wailea Point at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

As the sun kissed the western horizon, I made it down to the sand at Polo Beach, at the southern end of the Wailea Point pedestrian walkway.  This is where I spent the remainder of my time on this evening.

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

In time, the scene moved into the blue hour…

Polo Beach at Sunset, Maii, Hawaii

Polo Beach at Dusk, Maii, Hawaii

…and ultimately all of the light was gone.  Fortunately the walkway was lit and I was able to make my way, roughly a mile and-a-half, back to where I had parked.  It had been another long day in a series of them.  Day 11 would be no different.

Posted by: kerryl29 | February 7, 2020

A Brief Hiatus

I’m writing this post to alert the regular readership of this blog that there will be no new post next week.  Tomorrow (Feb. 8) morning I’m heading to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas.  Big Bend–a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years but never have been anywhere near up to this point–is nearly 600 miles by road from my (new-ish) base near Houston.  I will spend five days (and probably one additional early morning) there before returning back to Houston on Friday, Feb. 14.  This will be my first photo foray in Texas.

While on the ground in Big Bend, I will have limited time  to produce blog content (and, possibly, even more limited connectivity), so rather than try to pull a proverbial rabbit out of a proverbial hat, there will be no post next week.

I’m really looking forward to, finally, visiting Big Bend.  While this is a much shorter trip than most of my photo sojourns, it should still provide plenty of time for exploration and, hopefully, a bit of memorable photography.  Eventually the images from this trip will be presented on this blog, but it won’t be for awhile.  Editing of the images won’t even begin until I’m back in the Chicago area (late February).

The next blog entry–probably the early part of the week after next–will resume the chronology of last September’s Hawaii trip.

In the meantime, have a good week!

Bisti Arch Moonrise, Bisti Badlands, New Mexico

Older Posts »

Categories