Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

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.



The picture below is a closer look at the falls shown above. The height of this falls is amazing, but I also find it striking how “unpolished” the water course appears to be. It’s almost as if the fall was recently created by some calamity. But, romantic interpretations aside, I suspect this indicates a rapid rate of erosion.

I took the photo below at maximum telephoto because I wanted to know what the white coloring was. I think it’s probably calcite deposits, but I stand ready to be corrected by those more knowledgeable. There is a tiny white vertical streak to the right of the photo. This might be a small waterfall, but I’m not at all sure. The line of bright, light-green trees forming a diagonal line on the lower right side are kukui trees — a Polynesian introduction seen very commonly along streams throughout the state.

And here’s a glimpse of the canyon via Google, with the Alakai Wilderness Preserve, aka “swamp”, clearly marked.

Posted on: Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 at 9:06 am
Categories: Hawaii.
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