Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for the 'Maui' Category

We ♥ Snow

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

One interesting thing about living with a 10,000-foot mountain in your backyard–said mountain rising out of the Pacific Ocean just north of latitude 20–is that it can still be warm enough to go swimming at the beach when there’s a frosting of snow at the summit.

These photos were taken this morning, showing a lovely snow fall at the summit of Haleakala on the island of Maui. For us, snow is exciting, since we only see it every two or three years, and since it only falls at the summit.

Snow on Haleakala - January 19, 2011

Snow on Haleakala - January 19, 2011

Total Eclipse? Bah Humbug!

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

There was a total eclipse of the moon last night. I didn’t see it. Clouds, drizzly rain, that sort of thing, got in the way. I did get a glimpse of the partially eclipsed crescent a bit later, but that was through heavy clouds.

Several years ago there was another total lunar eclipse in our region, but it was the same thing for me: clouds, rain. I have never seen the red moon.

Worse yet, maybe fifteen years ago there was a total solar eclipse visible from Hawaii. This was a very strange event. The day before was brilliantly sunny. The day after was brilliantly sunny. The day of was cloudy, rainy. Where I live we even had an unseasonable fog.

So I don’t get too excited when I hear about an upcoming eclipse. Maybe I’ll see one someday, but I think the odds are better if I bet on bad weather!

But not everyone has my bad luck. Here’s a link to a photo taken by my daughter in Honolulu: This is her second red moon.

And a couple of other interesting shots:

Red moon in clouds

Moonlight returning


Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Lahaina is a former whaling town and was once the capital of Hawaii. The name means “cruel sun.” That’s a fair description, because on most days of the year Lahaina is hot–but that’s all right, because the abundant sunlight sets the gorgeous, bright blue water to sparkling, creating one of the most beautiful vistas on the island. But not today.

Away southeast, Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island has been steadily pumping out fumes and lava for the past twenty-seven years. Usually it’s not a bother to those of us who don’t live on the Big Island–that is, until our tradewinds cease to blow. Without the wind to sweep the fumes away, the volcanic smog or “vog” drifts up the island chain, enshrouding us in vapors.

Here’s a photo taken from a restaurant overlooking Front Street in Lahaina. The island across the water is Lana`i. See that dark “cloud” on the horizon, to the left of the island? That’s murk–like the stuff that belched out of Orodruin, I imagine. As soon as the sun sank behind that dark layer, it was gone. No colors, no glow, no beams of light. It just retreated behind a dark curtain, and the show was over.

The sun sets into thick vog off west Maui.

Yes, that is a wrecked sailboat beside the sun’s light path. It’s been there for years.

Twelve Miles With Hiking Poles

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

A few days ago the husband asked, “Do you want to help me hike supplies into Kapalaoa Cabin for my volunteer service trip?”

Kapalaoa Cabin, aka “The First Cabin” is located in Haleakala National Park, six miles in from Haleakala Crater rim. The trail starts at around 9800’ and descends to 7200’, with most of the descent in the first half of the hike. I’ve hiked in to and out from Kapalaoa Cabin many times, but never on the same day, so I figured, Why not?

It would give me a chance to take some pictures, and to try out the concept of hiking with two hiking poles.

I’ll admit that in my foolish youth I looked down on hiking poles—until a few years ago when a friend loaned me one on a long downhill slog. I was amazed at the difference it made and I’ve often used one since. But I never tried hiking with two poles.

The first thing I found out is that I cannot hike with a pole in each hand and a camera around my neck. I’ll have to look for a chest pack or something, because I can’t stand the camera banging against me. So I put one of the poles away until I got to the last, and roughest, part of the descent. At that point the camera went into the pack and I set out with both poles in hand.

By this time the husband was far ahead, since I’d been stopping to take pictures. So I set out at full speed—and with the help of those two poles I’m fairly sure I set personal records for the last leg of the descent, and for crossing the cinder flats that follow. Walking a trail through dry cinder is like walking through dry sand. The poles proved surprisingly useful in this situation, since they provided a solid point to push off.

We offloaded the supplies, and hiked out with little more than water and snacks in the packs. Overall, the trip went well—and today I have a good excuse not to work out!

Looking Down Sliding Sands Trail From Near the Top

Looking down Sliding Sands Trail from near the top. The trail follows the foot of the crater wall on the right of the photo.

The cinder flats, after the initial steep descent from the crater rim.

The cinder flats, after the initial steep descent from the crater rim. This photo shows bracken fern on either side of the trail, but the fern soon gives way to a barren cinder area.

Kapalaoa Cabin, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

Kapalaoa Cabin, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

Sliding Sands Trail as it descends from the crater rim.

Oh yeah, we have to climb out again! This is a view of Sliding Sands Trail as it ascends to the crater rim.

A Strange “New” Species

Monday, July 26th, 2010

A few days ago, motion drew my eye to the window. A bird was hopping around in the butterfly bush. Nothing unusual about that, but this particular bird made me do a double-take:

What was going on? Had I been transported to the Island of Dr. Moreau? Was someone in the neighborhood doing weird experiments on the local bird life? Please tell me that is not really the head of a black finch transplanted onto the body of a cardinal . . . .

A Google search soon informed me I wasn’t the only one who had seen such a sight and wondered about it. The bird in question is definitely a cardinal, but it’s a bald cardinal, with no feathers on its head.

Opinions on what causes cardinals to lose all their head feathers are mixed, but most seem to involve mites and seasonal molting. It is agreed the condition generally takes place after the breeding season, that it isn’t permanent, and that the feathers grow back.

I have to say though, that a cardinal with a head as bald as a vulture’s is a rather disturbing sight.

Tsunami Day

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

When I was ten years old and living in Waikiki, my school teacher showed us a film about a tsunami in Japan. I don’t remember any details–it might even have been animation–I just remember the lasting terror that film instilled in me. It felt personal, because my Dad was in the process of moving us to the north shore of Oahu, where we would be living in a beach house set back about 12 feet from the sand. It didn’t take much imagination to think that we might all be crushed and swept out to sea–and indeed there were some terrifying moments living in that house, when the surf turned gigantic, running through the yard and throwing spray on the windows–but thankfully the tsunami never showed up.

The danger is real though. Hawaii has suffered severe tsunami events in the past, and statistically we are way overdue for another.

So when a friend called at 6am on Saturday morning to make sure we knew a tsunami warning had been posted, it wasn’t exactly a shock. My husband already knew about it, but I had gone to sleep before the Chilean earthquake. Our own home wasn’t in any danger since we live way up the side of a mountain, but if Maui’s harbor was damaged there would soon be a shortage of supplies and gasoline on our very non-self-sufficient island, and if the power plant was damaged, who knows how long we would have to go without electricity?

So we joined the lines of people at the gas station, made a quick run to the grocery store (rice & spam are golden in our culture if a shortage is expected), and finished our circuit at the ATM machine.

Then it was home to watch the TV and Twitter coverage.

As you probably know, the actual event was anti-climatic, and for that we are very grateful. We know it won’t always be this way–and our hearts go out to the people of Chile, who have suffered so many terrible earthquakes in the past.

Spring Asserts Herself

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Okay, okay, winter in Hawaii isn’t much compared to most of the mainland, but where we live at 3400’ it gets cool enough that we have a distinct winter that most of the garden recognizes . . . but so far as the plants are concerned winter doesn’t last long.

The freesias have decided it's spring.

Years ago we were given a handful of freesia bulbs. Over time they’ve naturalized and multiplied, but they persist in surprising me every year with their sudden appearance in February – and sometimes earlier. These are just the early bloomers. There will be a lot more to come.

High Surf on Christmas Day

Friday, December 25th, 2009

We went early to check out the big waves on Maui’s northshore. It was a gorgeous morning with not too much traffic. A great way to start Christmas Day!

Wiliwili and Wall-E

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Now and then my husband and I actually escape from the mundane weekend world of yard work and the occasional movie and do something interesting. At the end of June we went on a hike on the dry and austere south side of Haleakala. Starting from Piilani Highway, we hiked down a jeep road to the coast, and then for some miles through the lava fields along the “King’s Trail” to La Perouse Bay (Keoneoio). The King’s Trail is an amazing story in itself, built 150 years ago over extremely rough a’a lava flows — but this blog entry is about the groves of wiliwili trees we passed on the way downhill.

This area was once dryland forest, now long gone, with only some remnant native trees left. It’s still amazingly beautiful, but sad as well. Presumably when it was forested the rainfall was higher — studies have shown that forests on high elevation island slopes do seem to affect the net rainfall. At any rate, our hike was at the end of June, in very dry conditions.

Wiliwili trees (Erythrina sandwicensis) are probably the most common of the surviving native species. In dry areas they will spend much of the year in a leafless condition, producing leaves and beautiful flowers only when there has been a good deal of rain.

On this hike, I was very keen to see how the wiliwili trees were holding up. A couple of years ago the islands were invaded by a tiny gall wasp, which rapidly destroyed almost all non-native wiliwili trees that are commonly used for landscaping. The native trees are also attacked, but I’m happy to report that the trees in the area of our hike are still holding on. Their remote location may offer them an advantage, as well as their habit of dropping all their leaves.

Wiliwilis are legumes, and their seed is a good-sized orange bean. I picked up a few from the ground under a tree that clearly served to shade cattle on a hot day — so there was no hope they would have sprouted in their native habitat. One of them sprouted right away, another a couple of weeks later, and the rest have recently taken off after I cracked their seed coats. Here is a picture of the first to grow: Wiliwili seedling, approx 6 weeks

The seedling reminds me a lot of the sprout in the movie Wall-E. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who walked out of the theater after that movie feeling rather depressed. Yes, the movie was cute, sweet, and entertaining, but the Earth does not recover from ecological damage like that, at least on a time scale that matters to the human species.

At any rate, I hope the gall wasps don’t figure out that I’m harboring a wiliwili nursery in upper Kula, and I hope that whitish spot on the leaf of the seedling is not the first sign of something bad.

Here are a few photos from the hike:

A grove of wiliwili trees, leafless under dry conditions
A grove of wiliwili trees, leafless under dry conditions

That’s me, hiding from excess sunlight, as always.

South slope, Haleakala
It’s an austere landscape.

South slope, Haleakala
A panoramic of the south slope. The lone green tree is a native, Reynoldsia, I believe. The brown leafless trees in the distance are wiliwili, though they’re hard to see at this image resolution. That’s the island of Kahoolawe in the background.


Monday, May 21st, 2007

I sat next to a bodhisattva today, on a twenty minute inter-island flight. I had an aisle seat, she was sitting beside me, and her companion had the window. It was impossible not to eavesdrop on an energetic and animated conversation that began with a deep examination of their personal emotional needs, their experience with channeling, insight on her past lives, their struggles to find the perfect romantic partner, and other subjects that discretion suggests I not repeat here.

Then, perhaps halfway through the flight, he leans toward her and asks her to accept what he is about to say with an open mind. “I truly believe you are a bodhisattva.” She laughs pleasantly and agrees. The talk moves on.

Far be it from me to claim expertise on any religion, but I do happen to know that a bodhisattva is a Buddhist figure, commonly conceived as one who is on the way to becoming a Buddha, but “delays his own final and complete enlightenment in order to save all sentient beings out of his enormous compassion.” ( So a bodhisattva is a very powerful spiritual being. As an example, the Dalai Lama is considered by many to have this status.

I admit I tried to sense a spiritual aura… just in case. Perhaps I am just deaf to such things. Still, I imagine spirituality as something conveyed more in emotion than in words. The talk-talk-talk of the bodhisattva and her companion was quite incredible to me — both for its simple abundance, but also that such confessions and discussions should be made in a public place.

Perhaps in their enthusiasm, they simply forgot I was sitting beside them. But even enlightened beings might do well to remember the value of a little discretion.