Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beginning of NaPali coast trail

From Anini Beach we moved our tent to Hanalei for the weekend. And took the opportunity to drive the road to its western end at the Kee Beach, where the trail for the NaPali Coast starts. A lot of warning signs in the beginning of the trail (though a lot more at the beach!). Our kids did great.

Emilie showing off a bit up the trail - the Kee beach, where the trail starts, is underneath us. We took it slow and steady. The trail was a little bit muddy - enough to get us some obvious marks on the legs, but it was not too slippery.

At the 1/2 mile mark, well above the ocean, we got the promised glimpse of the NaPali coast. The kids managed to get there all by themselves. A few obligatory pictures...

And then we headed back down.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crazy Yukon Quest

The Yukon Quest, the 1000 mile sled dog race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, has been crazy this year. First, from the reports I heard, temperatures were perhaps even above freezing in Whitehorse just before the race start. Then the race started, and things looked fast. Hugh Neff was up front, and even seemed to have made it past some difficult sections of the trail on the Alaska side before weather moved in. He seemed unstoppable. Then the cold front moved in, and things started changing. Fast. First, reports of Hugh Neff finding some serious overflow (water flowing over ice), serious enough that one of his dogs was submerged. All of that in fourty to fifty below temperatures. He still made it into the checkpoint in Central ok. Next, a report that four-time champion Hans Gatt also got stuck in an overflow someplace - he fell in chest deep after the ice he thought was solid broke under him. Same cold temperatures. A fellow musher helped to get him and his dogs out and built a fire, and they improvised some shoes from various materials on the sled, and made it to Central, where Hans Gatt scratched. He is lucky to be alive. And last report - Hugh Neff, the leader for 800 miles, could not make it over the summit a bit further up the trail, and scratched too. It will be interesting to see how the race continues, and I just hope that everyone will be safe and sound when all is said and done.

Camping at Anini Beach

Camping at Anini was cool. As in being in the far north of Kauai, one could feel the latitude, and we wore sweaters most of the time :). Unlike the previous spot at Anahola (where people sat at sunrise on the beach, motionless), there were plenty of people right next to where we pitched the tent at Anini, but they were on their knees, looking for the tiny red shells called Kahelelani. So we joined them, and found some too. Apparently it was one of the few spots around the island where the shells can be found. Picture below: our tent, a few steps from the beach. The waves break on the reef far out in the distance.

The next day we took a hike around Anini. There were a lot of cool trees to climb over, through, under, or around.

Notes for future camping: the tip of the beach was actually not the best place to camp - there was a channel nearby that guided a lot of the water behind the reef in or out. If it had been warm enough to go swimming, it would have been better to be a bit to the side from the tip. And, not under the trees - the lack of sun was noticeable. Though one cool thing about the trees was that we got to see the wild chickens going to roost in the trees. And there was an egg right next to our tent too. (it had been there when we put the tent up, so who knows how long it was there...)

Reindeer tree, as Sonja called it. See it, looking out towards the right?The antlers are going up off the picture, one big round eye is visible, as is the mouth and the nice neck. The legs, well, you have to imagine those.

Almost at the end of the beach.

And the next day, we ended up eating breakfast at this picnic table, also a few feet in the other direction from our tent. Had to pull up our feet a few times when the wave came in higher. And a nice big wave is crashing over the protecting reef far offshore.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kilauea Point and Wildlife Refuge

We left Anahola Beach and headed for the Kilauea Wildlife Refuge on the Kilauea Point.

We ate some pizza for lunch in a top parking lot, looking down on the main parking lot [at left] and the refuge. No food is allowed in the refuge. Huge cliffs everywhere. To get to the parking lot, one *has* to use a car - no pedestrians. Ouch! (They cited safety concerns due to the narrowness and turns of the road.)

The wave action against the cliffs was very impressive. Wouldn't want to be down there at sea level!

The most common bird in the refuge is the red-footed booby. That is apparently what all of those white dots are. on that green hillside.

May be because it is so common the hawaiian name for it is the sweet and short 'a.

Checking out the endangered (Hawaiian) Nene goose. We almost got kicked out after the kids forgot how to behave, started chasing each other, and nearly took out this poor bird. As soon as we corralled them, we left, but it was close.

A Laysan albatross soared around the point (top of picture). It is huge, with ~6ft wingspan.

At the end of the day, we put up our tent under the big trees at Anini Beach - in fact it was right behind that big tree on the right, with the Kilauea point visible in the background. That picnic table served us well the second day for breakfast.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sixth day of camping - Anahola Beach

The sixth day of camping took us to Anahola Beach on the east side of Kauai. We arrived in late afternoon. Put up tent and went swimming. This is how the beach looked a couple steps down from our tent.

In the morning we woke up and Emilie insisted in the dusk that she needed to go poop, so I got up to take her to the bathroom (for peeing, we had a potty with us, which stayed in the vestibule. and was used a lot by both kids). As I stuck my head out in the grey light of early morning, I was taken aback - some twenty or so people sat in intervals on the beach, including pretty close to our tents, and were either reading or writing or just watching the waves. All had headlamps on, so initially all I saw were these twenty or so points of light spread out on the beach. I was wondering what new-ageish occurence we have come across? This picture doesn't do it justice, it got exposed for a long time. I had to ask the girl we encountered as we waited in line (!) for the bathroom at 7am. She said they were a college group who were taking an outdoor education class for credit, they were heading to the NaPali coast from there. After at least half or 3/4 hour, all of them got up and went to their tents.

We had a leasurly breakfast, the sun got up, and we headed back into the water. The kids loved it.

Watch out, a monster's coming out of the sea! Sonja had a swimsuit that has inflatable chambers inside.

Then the tent was packed up. All that was left of our sleeping area were some mats that were in the vestibule of the tent. Beautiful day!