Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for the 'Hawaii' Category

Ka`u Trail / Footprints

Monday, August 4th, 2014

The day after our Hilina Pali hike, we dialed things back and went on two short hikes, instead of one long, challenging one…with a visit to a winery in between.

The hike that was new for us was the “footprints” trail. It starts on Mamalahoa Highway. There’s no parking lot, just a pullout alongside the uphill-bound lane. Keep a sharp eye out for it — the trailhead is very easy to drive past, especially given the speed of traffic on this section of the road. But once you find the right place to stop, the trail is easy to follow.


This is an easy hike. It’s short, there’s very little elevation change, and trail conditions are mostly good. In fact, part of the trail is paved with asphalt. I think this is leftover from the days of long ago when the National Park Service had better funding.

This is called the “Footprints Trail” because at different times in past centuries, people walked through this area during severe volcanic activity, leaving footprints behind in thin layers of clay. The park service built a shelter over an example of footprints, but over the years the prints have been vandalized and aren’t really recognizable. Nevertheless, this is a great hike to see the old lava flows and the sparse vegetation on this side of the area known as the Ka`u Desert. Highly recommended if you want a short outing!

Note that the Footprints Trail meets the Ka`u Desert Trail, which runs for miles in both directions. You might want to continue on for a bit — but don’t get carried away.

And that winery? It’s Volcano Winery, of course! We liked the guava-grape wine.

This is near the start of the Footprints Trail.

This is near the start of the Footprints Trail.


Hilina Pali Trail

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Last week my husband Ron and I did some hiking on the Big Island. Our first venture was the Hilina Pali Trail, inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

My quick summary?
Spectacular scenery, but not a pleasant hike. I’m glad we did it, but I doubt we’ll do it again.

Here I am at the start of the Hilina Pali Trail. It's all downhill from here -- that is, until it's time to head back.

Here I am at the start of the Hilina Pali Trail. It’s all downhill from here — that is, until it’s time to head back.
Photo by Ronald J. Nagata

(There are a lot more photos at the end of this write up!)

Here’s the longer version:

Volcanoes is a huge park, with extremely varied terrain that runs from the shoreline to Mauna Loa’s 14,000-foot summit. Hilina Pali — and “pali” is the Hawaiian word for “cliff” — is an escarpment on the southeast coast. The trail begins at the end of a nine-mile-long spur road that branches off from Chain-of-Craters Road. Starting elevation is about 2,260 feet. The trail descends a steep 1,200 feet through sometimes difficult terrain. It then crosses a wide bench, slowly descending another 800 feet. From here, it’s another 200-foot drop to near sea level. Roundtrip mileage is only around eight or nine miles according to the map, but I believe it’s significantly longer than this, by another mile or even two.

This is a tough hike! Not so much for the mileage, but because of the heat, the terrain, and the monotonous landscape. The initial descent is the hardest part of the hike. It can be quite steep, and the footing is treacherous in parts. It crosses an `a`a lava flow and some of the trail is paved in `a`a “clinker”–loose stones that can easily roll out from under your boot. I skidded several times on the way down and fell down once. The trail doesn’t seem to get a lot of use. Grass and weeds are overgrowing it, so it’s often hard to see where you’re placing your feet. And it’s hot. Did I mention it’s hot?

We were actually lucky, because a very strong wind was blowing all day. Now and then while on the cliff we would find ourselves in the lee, and it was sweltering!

Rainforest Hike, Kauai

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

I enjoyed a very short trip to Kauai at the end of last week. One of the adventures I went on with my husband, Ron, was a short hike on the Pihea Trail in Koke’e State Park.

If you’ve visited Kauai, you’ve almost certainly been to Koke’e. I’ll bet the photo below looks familiar…this is a view into Kalalau Valley — it’s a standard stop for island visitors.


Nearly everyone who visits walks out along the eroded ridge that is the back wall of Kalalau Valley. That is the start of Pihea Trail, which continues along the ridge to a peak on the opposite side of the valley. It’s not very far — maybe 1.5 to two miles? — but there is some interesting terrain along the way. It’s good to remember, this is called a rainforest for a reason.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

I think I was sixteen when I flew from Oahu to Kauai with a group from the Hawaii Sierra Club, to participate in a two-week “Hawaii Service Trip Program” project — a volunteer work project, in this case devoted to building new trail in the bottom of Waimea Canyon. I participated in several other HSTP projects over the years, but this was my first.

Waimea Canyon — often called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” — is an amazing feature that seems entirely out of place on a small island like Kauai. Wikipedia puts its size as about ten miles long and as deep as 3,000 feet. The geology alone is striking, but there is also an abundance of streams and waterfalls which exist in sharp contrast to the generally dry terrain. In Hawaii, rainfall patterns change radically over very short distances. Just to the east of the canyon is a high elevation region dominated by Waiʻaleʻale, the highest peak on the island at 5,100 feet. Rainfall records from Waiʻaleʻale indicate it’s one of the wettest places on Earth. Between the peak and the canyon is the Alakai Swamp, which drains into the canyon, feeding those amazing waterfalls.


Unfortunately for me, I haven’t been back in the canyon since that first expedition. One of these days I’ll need to make a serious effort to go again, but for now photos from the canyon rim will have to do. These were taken on Friday, June 20 — an absolutely gorgeous summer day.



Huge Surf! A Ten-Year Event!

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Anyway, that’s how the surf was being described ahead of its arrival, so I decided to head down to Maui’s north shore to take a look–and there were certainly some big waves coming in, but I don’t think they came anywhere close to the predicted fifty feet. No doubt they showed up larger on Oahu, where the really big surf is to be found.

Here are a few photos–nothing wonderful, but at least I have something to show for the day. 🙂

Maui, north shore surf, January 22, 2014
This couple is standing on a bluff well above the beach. You can see from their size that the surf is not tiny, but it’s not gigantic either.

Mauna Kea/Milky Way Time Lapse

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

This is an amazing time-lapse video of the Mauna Kea observatories, the Milky Way, and lasers!

The video was created by University of Hawaii grad student Sean Goebel.
Read about the process used to create the video, and also about the lasers here at Peta Pixel:

Haleakala Crater Service Trip

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.

I’m modeling my usual crater attire. The elevation of the crater floor is around 7400′, so solar radiation is intense and sunburn happens fast, so I learned to hide from the sun long ago. (Photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.)

A few years ago my husband, Ron Nagata, retired from his position as Chief of Resources Management at Haleakala National Park here on Maui, but he still works at the park as a volunteer. One of his ongoing projects is invasive weed control from Haleakala’s summit to Kapalaoa Cabin. Over the weekend he and I participated in a periodic service trip, aimed at knocking back the population of two target weeds. It was a fantastic weekend, with unusual weather–colder than expected for this time of year.

On the six-mile hike in, we enjoyed a constantly changing panorama of mist rolling just above the slopes and between the cinder cones. Over the last couple of miles we were spattered by a very light rain. We reached the cabin, rested a bit, and went out again into a cold afternoon to start working. Before long a dribbling rain started to fall, but slowly enough that we stayed out until evening.

The next day started off clear, but the mist and fog soon returned. We worked until mid-afternoon and then returned to the cabin for a late lunch–just before the rain arrived in earnest. It rained hard until after nightfall, so that ended our working day…I’ll admit I wasn’t complaining, because I was tired.

On Monday morning we worked for a couple of hours and then set off through the spectacular central crater scenery on our hike out.

This is me, in the field. There was very little of our target weed in this area, but at the next patch of vegetation seen in the distance above my head, we discovered plenty--and pulled as many as we could. We'll be back for the remainder before too long.

This is me, in the field. There was very little of our target weed in this area, but at the next patch of vegetation seen in the distance above my head, we discovered plenty–and pulled as many as we could. We’ll be back for the remainder before too long. (Photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.)

The peak in the distance is Hanakauhi, aka "Hana Mountain" as seen from Halemau`u Trail in the central crater, on our hike out.

The peak in the distance is Hanakauhi, aka “Hana Mountain” as seen from Halemau`u Trail in the central crater. (Photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.)

Senator Daniel K. Inouye, 1924-2012

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Daniel Inouye passed away today at the age of eighty-eight. He’s been a senator from Hawaii for as long as I can remember — for almost as long as I’ve been alive — having been first elected in 1962. He was the most senior member of the United States senate, a man who came from poverty, served heroically in World War II, had a large role in the push for statehood, and elected to the Senate at the age of thirty-eight.

In middle school I remember reading his autobiography, Journey to Washington, written with Lawrence Elliott, and being hugely impressed.

No one is perfect, but Daniel Inouye served his state and his country for nearly all of his life. He will be greatly missed.

The Star Advertiser has a detailed biography on the senator, not presently paywalled.

Pondering Cloud Atlas, the movie (minor spoilers)

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I finally saw the movie Cloud Atlas yesterday and have been pondering it since, but probably not for the reasons the creators would like.

Background: I read a sample of the novel on my Kindle, enough to know some details of the initial setting, and I had heard that the film takes place across a wide span of time, with interconnected lives. Other than that, I didn’t know much about it, as I prefer reading reviews and analyses after seeing a movie, and not before.

Also, I have some pretty serious facial recognition issues, so the identity of actors in multiple roles was not at all obvious to me, which pretty much guaranteed the story would be over my head. I had to read an IMDB summary afterward to get the core idea.

But it’s not the intricate story that leaves me pondering. It’s the treatment of race and setting. A lot has been written about Caucasian actors playing Asians in the film. The logical reason for this is pretty straightforward: people are reincarnated with varying racial backgrounds and for continuity the same actors were used regardless. It’s probably fair to ask why Caucasian actors were chosen—and the film might have done better with more mixed-race actors come to think of it. Halle Berry seemed able to pull off the various roles better than most, from my perspective.

But for me personally, the 1940s fake-“Asian” look was very unsettling, very distracting. For me, it doesn’t even trigger the meme “Asian.” More like “Romulan,” or “Vulcan,” or “holy cow, what in the world are they doing…?” I am told this was an indie movie and maybe they didn’t have the budget to do it right, but given the lush, eye-candy settings throughout the film, that’s a little hard to parse.

One racial aspect that I found almost no mention of online was that the people in the opening chapters of the book who were Maori, became people of African descent in the movie. I can come up with possible reasons for this, but it still seemed like Polynesia was being “disappeared,” written out of world history and replaced by another people.

And then there was “The Big Isle.” I gather from comments I’ve heard and from Wikipedia that in the book this actually does refer to our “Big Island,” Hawaii, the largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. But I can tell you that was not the Big Island. There was nothing about it that recalled the Big Island: not the geology, not the flora, not the people, nothing.

I raise my hand and plead guilty to writing about places I haven’t been, but I have to presume the makers of this film could have gone to the Big Island if they wanted to. So I have to assume they found a more budget friendly location, which is fine, I understand that.

But why is every post-apocalyptic survivor on the “Big Isle” seemingly pureblood Caucasian? I don’t think it’s a big secret that here in Hawaii there are a lot of people of Hawaiian ancestry, along with many other racial groups. I also don’t think it’s a secret that here in Hawaii we tend to marry across racial lines very, very frequently (I volunteer myself as an example). For at least twenty years the standard couple in banking commercials has been Asian/Caucasian. These days it seems more unusual to see people of the same race marrying, than to see mixed marriages. So…what happened during the apocalypse to erase our mixed race society? The science-fictional mindset kicks in and I find myself wondering if a racially targeted, engineered virus wiped out all but the Caucasian purebloods…but that has nothing to do with the story. So again, I’m distracted from the actual story by the (to me) inexplicable world-building choices–which goes to show the importance of world-building.

I will try to stop pondering now. I have my own stories to write, my own world-building choices to make. I’m sure I won’t always get it right, but I’ll keep trying.

My First–Maybe My Last–Writer’s Retreat

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

I just got back from Oahu last night. I was there for five days, house-sitting — well, okay, dog-sitting — for my daughter and son-in-law. The idea was, this would be a writer’s retreat: five days of intense revision on the novel-in-progress, with occasional dog walking.

I’d never done a writer’s retreat before, nor had much desire too. Generally, when I decide “Now I will do hours of mind-expanding writing” that will be the exact moment that all desire to write suddenly leaves me. So why set myself up for failure? I write well-enough at home.

But in this case dog-sitting was needed, and my philosophy is “try new stuff.” Besides, I actually got a lot of useful writing done when I was traveling alone in July. So I packed up my Netbook and my folder of “to-do notes” and headed over to Oahu, where it was really hot.

Okay, that’s an unfair statement, because it’s not just Oahu that’s hot. Hawaii, at sea-level, is hot. Sure, there are warmer, more humid places, but the truth is I am spoiled. I live at a relatively high elevation on the island of Maui where the air temperature rarely if ever exceeds eighty degrees, and is much more commonly in the low seventies. Sure, it can be hot in the sun, but it’s almost always cool in the shade, and if the upstairs of the house gets kind of warm on a blazing summer day, well, the downstairs is still cool. So, yeah, spoiled.

Also, I grew up on Oahu, living at sea-level in a house without air-conditioning, and going to a school without air-conditioning. I know what it is to live and work in constant heat and humidity, and I’m not fond of it. The funny thing is, it really wasn’t that hot for the first three days, but regardless, I had a hard time settling into work. In the end, I managed two decent days of revision, but I did get to read a long and fascinating novel by Chaz Brenchley, which I will post on in more detail next week, when it’s released by Book View Café.

And next time I go to Oahu to dog-sit? I’ll plan on sightseeing and hiking, not writing. And if I happen to get some writing done on the side, that’s “cool” too.