Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Archive for the 'Maui' Category

Chameleon Check

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

In the category of “odd regional habits” I’ve taken to giving the driveway a quick glance to make sure it’s clear of chameleons before backing the car out. I think we’ve only ever run over one in the driveway, but one was more than enough.

Photo by Ron Nagata

These are Jackson’s chameleons. Like most everything else commonly seen in Hawaii, they’re not native to the islands, but were brought in as pets and then escaped or were released. They started showing up in our neighborhood maybe fifteen years ago and they’re quite common now.

Male Jackson's chamelon; photo by Ron Nagataq

Usually they’re in the shrubbery or up in the trees, but now and then they come down and stagger across the driveway with a rather comical gait. Once, we even found a confused looking individual clinging to the back tire of the car.

Female Jackson's chameleon

The males are like mini-Triceratops, with three horns. Females are horns-free. They’re fascinating animals to watch, with their prehensile tales and their long sticky tongues. They’re mostly green as adults, but they’ll sometimes turn a darker color when feeling stressed. The babies are a brown color, like the little one in the photo below:

Baby Jackson's chameleon

They get to be four to six inches long, not counting the tail. That’s big for us. Our other reptiles are little skinks, geckos, and anoles, all quite small.

Maui Geological Feature #1

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

On Maui there is a 10,000-foot high volcano called Haleakala. At the top of the volcano is this geological feature:

Haleakala Crater - photo by Ronald J. Nagata

Haleakala Crater - photo by Ronald J. Nagata

This feature is part of Haleakala National Park, and is known as “Haleakala Crater”—or it was until recently.

The rest of this post is about semantics, culture, and strange bureaucracy.

The National Park Service is apparently in the process of unilaterally changing the name of “Haleakala Crater” to “Haleakala Valley,” which strikes many of us as a heavy-handed and poorly thought-out decision.

First, the disclaimer: I love the National Park Service. I used to work as a seasonal employee at Haleakala National Park, and my husband, now retired, made his career there, which is the reason we live on Maui. The National Park Service is one of the finest, most worthy government organizations out there, staffed with dedicated, hard-working people.

But re-naming the Crater is a mistake. It disrespects the history of a name that’s been in use for nearly 200 years, and it disrespects the culture of this island, which has used the name for all those generations.

Why does the park service want to change the name? According to Mary Evanson in her Maui News opinion piece,

“the National Park Service and the Hawaii Natural History Association (which runs the park shops) were implementing a program […] to educate the public that Haleakala Crater is not a true volcanic crater.”

I’m going to assume that a “true volcanic crater” really refers to a caldera which, according to thefreedictionary.com is

“A large crater formed by volcanic explosion or by collapse of a volcanic cone.”

But Haleakala Crater is not a caldera and no one’s calling it “Haleakala Caldera” so this is a non-issue.

The Crater was formed by the erosion of two large amphitheater-headed valleys whose headwalls eventually coalesced at the summit of the aging volcano. A period of extensive volcanism followed and the depression was filled in with lava flows and spotted with cinder cones.

Back to thefreedictionary.com:

cra·ter
1. A bowl-shaped depression at the mouth of a volcano or geyser.
2.
a. A bowl-shaped depression in a surface made by an explosion or the impact of a body, such as a meteoroid.
b. A pit; a hollow.

Hmm, definition 2b seems right on. Colloquial? Maybe, but so what? It’s accurate, traditional, and lyric.

As Mary cites in her viewpoint piece, at one time the term “erosional depression” was considered as the new name for Haleakala Crater, presumably because it was recognized that “valley” just didn’t do the job. Of course “erosional depression” doesn’t take into account the following volcanism, so that term doesn’t work either.

Just for fun, let’s say we agree that “crater” and “valley” and “erosional depression” are all inaccurate and therefore can’t be used. By the same logic, we can no longer call the mountain “Haleakala,” a word usually translated into English as “House of the Sun.” I’ve spent a lot of time in the Crater and I can tell you for a fact that the sun doesn’t actually live there. So just to be sure we don’t mislead anyone with an inaccurate name, maybe we should drop the “Haleakala” and instead call the feature “Maui Geological Feature #1” and leave it at that.

Or maybe we should just stick with the traditional and reasonably accurate name of “Haleakala Crater,” and encourage the National Park Service to spend its very limited money and personnel on more important issues.

Central crater, Haleakala National Park

Central crater, Haleakala National Park

Kula Shofukuji Obon Festival

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

According to Wikipedia…

Obon (お盆?) or just Bon (盆?) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed (deceased) spirits of one’s ancestors.

Kula Shofukuji Obon - 2011

On Maui the season of “Bon Dances” runs from late June through the first week of August. As the weeks pass, the festival moves from church to church, ending at the Buddhist church in my district of Kula. It’s a community festival, fun and upbeat, open and welcoming to everyone. We like to check in most years.

Services are held early. The cemetery is decorated with lanterns, and incense is provided at the shrines. The dance begins at nightfall, and there’s always a packed audience and lots of participants, some in full traditional dress, and some in street clothes. The music is recorded, but the taiko drumming is live, which makes all the difference.

Oh yes, the food is good too. It’s sold as a fundraiser, so we generally come home with a full bag of chow fun and extras.

Photos were taken tonight, August 6, and the weather was perfect.

Beach Week

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Mostly, I don’t go to the beach. I grew up on the north shore of Oahu, in a rented house right on the beach, and in those days I went swimming almost every day. These days, the only time I get to the beach is when my nephews come to visit. It’s the perfect excuse to spend time doing the fun things in life.

Here are a few pictures of where we’ve been:

Big Beach, at Makena State Park, South Maui. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I'm sure. The shorebreak is fun, but dangerous, with waves that love to slam you down on the sand. Islands in the background are Kaho`olawe on the left, and Molokini on the right.

Looking uphill from Big Beach, toward Ulupalakua on Haleakala volcano. Makena is one of the few glorious beaches without nearby development.

Flemings Beach Park in West Maui isn't as scenic as Makena, but the waves are kinder. We all had a lot of fun playing in the shorebreak.

Twin Falls, on Maui's north shore is at the end of a private road where visitors are allowed to hike and enjoy the waterfall and pool. The water is murky and cool, but not terribly cold. This was a great break after too-much-sun at the beaches.

We also had an afternoon at Kanaha Beach Park on the northside, but I don’t have any photos of that.

And now that my “staycation” is over, it’s back to trying to figure out how to make a living in this writing business.

Haleakala Crater Rim to Kaupo Ranch

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Bucket List: a list of dumb things you decide you’ll do before you die.

Yesterday’s great adventure was a bucket list item: a day hike from Haleakala National Park’s crater rim visitor center, elevation 9,750-feet, to the Kaupo Trailhead, 17+ miles away, at an elevation of 950-feet.

Yes, it was all downhill, and yes, downhill is really, really hard after the first ten miles.

Here, at the start: my husband Ron and I, prepared for high-elevation sun. It’s 9:30am:

Point zero: initiate
This is the first half of where we’re going:

Stage 1 complete: We’ve descended a little over 3000′ and reached the crater floor. Photo shows the next segment, a flat stretch to Kapalaoa Cabin:

Stage 2 complete: That’s me outside of Kapalaoa Cabin, with the trail continuing behind me. Seven miles done so far. It’s 11:30am.

Stage 3 complete: Ron and I at the Paliku trail junction. We’ve seen four other people since the end of Stage 1. Two we met at this junction: a couple of young men who “touched the ocean” then headed uphill, making for the summit. At this point they were beginning to question their own judgment, but I’m sure they finished before we did.

We’ve done ten miles so far. Now the great descent begins. We will see no other people until our son picks us up at Kaupo Ranch.

Stage 4: the descent through Kaupo Gap, from Paliku to the park boundary. Here’s a look at where we’re going, though this photo does nothing to show the incredible beauty of this area:

Kaupo Gap is my favorite area of the park. It’s gorgeous, with a native forest that’s recovering nicely since the goats were eradicated from park lands. It’s also incredibly hard to get to, being a ten-mile hike from the visitor center, or a six to eight mile hike up the gap on a horribly steep trail in bad condition–and of course getting there is only half the story. You have to get out again.


We’ve got a ways to go yet:

Stage 5: the descent through the cow pastures. We’ve done about 14 miles so far. There’s a fence at the boundary between the park and Kaupo Ranch. The contrast between grazed and protected lands is, of course, profound. From now on, it’s cattle pastures:

We’ve got “only” three or four miles left to go, but we are not almost there by any means. This is by far the hardest part of the hike. The terrain is steep, we’re walking on a ranch road with treacherous sections covered with rolling rock, and our downhill muscles and joints have begun to take serious notice of the abuse. Our destination looks disturbingly far away:

I put my camera away and focused on getting down without twisting an ankle.

The last adventure of the day was wading through a herd of sixty-plus agitated cattle milling around the trailhead gate. Most were cows and calves. One was a bull. I was terrified. But they stood between us and the car, so we forged ahead and got through without incident. It was around 6:30pm, and our darling son had just arrived to pick us up.

Here’s a rough map of the day’s trek:

It was an interesting and challenging day, and we get to check an item off the bucket list, but in all honesty, I’m not feeling any compulsion to ever do it again!

West Maui in July

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

We ventured out to Lahaina on the west side today. It seems to me the last time we made the trek–not all that long ago–the hills were still charred from the last wildfire. Evidently, spring rains have produced a new crop of tinder dry summer grass:

In the photo below, Haleakala volcano’s green slope rises beyond the dry coast of West Maui. I’m guessing the green band is roughly 3000 to 3500 feet above sea level on this 10,000-foot mountain.

This View Never Gets Old

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Drove up to the top of the mountain this morning. “The” mountain–Haleakala–is a massive shield volcano that makes up all of East Maui. The summit stands at 10,000-feet, with views all the way down to sealevel, at least during those hours when the clouds allow it. This morning the summit was clear but it stood above a sea of gleaming clouds.

Middle of the day is a terrible time to take photos, but here are some samples anyway:

Sea of clouds surrounding Haleakala summit

An opening in the clouds showing the eucalyptus forests near the town of Makawao. This is looking down from roughly 9000' to maybe 1500' in elevation

I was told long ago the name of this peak, Hanakauhi, can be translated as "maker of mist." Not sure it's true, but it would be appropriate.


Looking across the south wall of Haleakala Crater, towards Mauna Kea on the Big Island, where I was a few weeks ago.

Odd Weather

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Usually by the time June rolls around we’re facing imminent water restrictions in Kula. This year hasn’t had a lot of rain but more than we’ve grown accustomed to, and I like it.

This past week or so most days have started off brilliantly sunny–which does not encourage me to undertake my morning run–but by midday heavy clouds have gathered around the mountain. Sometimes we get rain, but most often it’s just a bit misty and delightfully cool. So I’ve started changing my running time to later in the day. It’s a nice break. Today’s run was extra pleasant with a light mist falling and gathering in droplets on me and everything else around.

Axis Deer

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Yesterday while jogging early in the morning I was startled by two axis deer crossing the road about twenty yards ahead of me. They’re beautiful creatures, but they’re not native to Hawaii. They were introduced to Maui in 1959, in an ill-conceived effort by the State of Hawaii to promote game hunting.

On the island of Moloka`i, the deer have laid waste to vast tracts of native forest. On Maui they long tended to live in the lowlands, where most of the native forest has already been eliminated, but their population has been steadily increasing and their range expanding.

Once upon a time they were never seen in Kula, where I live. Now, it’s still unusual to actually see them, but they’re around. Just ask any farmer!

Perhaps the state of Hawaii will figure out a solution before the deer get into our remaining native forests, but I don’t think anyone is placing bets on it.

I Love “My” Bees

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011


Several years ago, in the spring, a clan of honeybees moved into a never-used bird house that I’d hung up long ago in a koa tree. Honeybees can make a good living in my garden, so the colony grows a lot over the next few months.

Eventually, whether because they’ve outgrown the box or for some other reason, they take off, leaving only a tiny population behind, which dwindles to nothing over the winter.

And then in the spring they come back! Today was the day of the return. I heard the buzz of their swarm from where I was sitting, working on my latest novel, and went out to take a few pictures.

The honeycombs on the outside of the “bee house” were built in the first year of habitation. They tend to fill up with bees as the season advances, presumably because there are too many bees to live inside.

How the swarm remembers the location of this bee house is a mystery to me. If you know, please tell me!