Sunday, 14 December 2008

We're Baaaaack...

Back from Maui, and back to the land of keeping stuff updated via the blog.

We did 24 days on Maui, and had new experiences. You would think that after so many times there, there are no new experiences to have, but we hiked three trails we had never been on before, saw spinner dolphins actually spinning from our favourite beach, saw an endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal, saw huge waves on our beach (which gets nice waves, not monster killer boogie-board eating death waves), and sat through not one but two Kona storms that included a full day of puking rain each.

Most days were spent beaching. We saw lots of turtles, octopus & eels, plus added a few nudibranches to our growing list of underwater stuff we have seen. This was the first year I didn't bother to get an underwater camera, and it's probably just as well because I have many, many underwater shots from Maui, and all but one or two would be the same.

We caught Luke Harngoody (#44) and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame play the University of Illinois in the EA Sports Maui Invitational basketball championship. Luke is apparently the 2nd ranked player in the country, and ND is 7th ranked. The tournament was won by North Caroline and Tyler Hainsborough, the top team and player in the country.

The spinning dolphins were a highlight. A pod of about 20 Spinner Dolphins were playing about 100 yards off the beach. They looked like they might have been fishing. Periodically, one would leap, followed sometimes by a second or third, always spinning while leaping. Very cool, but tough to photograph.

The monster killer death waves were cool. Take a look at this photo, and consider that the boogie board is 42" long, and the guy at the crest is just under 6' tall. This is a wave with an 8' face, and this was a small one.

So imagine facing this -- a 10 footer.

Or this 15 footer.

By now, the smart people were out of the water. And they stood and watched.

Or they went surfing (this is over at Ho'okeepa, not my beach)

The three new hikes we did were Twin Falls (not worth it, really), Waihee Ridge and Waihee Valley. The ridge trail runs up a mountain some 1,500' on the very precipice of a valley, into which runs the valley trail. The valley trail is much like the 7 Pools hike at Hana without the drive. The ridge trail is just like climbing mountains at home, but hotter and it rains more. The views from the ridge trail start off with Haleakela and the entire ithsmus in view, all the way to Kihei, where we stay. Now we know where the trail is, we know you can actually see it from Kihei.

The trail skirts the edge of the ridge with great views into the valley as it switchbacks upwards. That's the valley trail in the depths.

On the way up, there are waterfalls to be seen, and at the top, one of the wettest places in Hawaii is in view. They helicopters even fly tours up this canyon.

This is really one amazing valley.

Down in the valley, the valley trail follows the river. Well, there really isn't a river. This river is a main water supply for Maui, so in typical Maui fashion, the river flow is harnessed by a series of dams and diverted into ditches (we would call them small irrigation canals, but in Maui, it's a ditch). The trail simply follows an access to the main ditch diversions. The ditches were built in the late 1800's and early 1900's and literally bore through the lava rock walls.

This hike is referred to as the Swinging Bridges hike, on account of the two bridges that span the river. And boy, do they swing, being made only of cable and 2 x 8's. And they're long.

The river is diverted twice. Once at the end of the trail, at a small dam, about 80% of the flow is taken.

Then lower down, an ingenious grated trough picks up the entire flow. More water does make it into the river, so it isn't bone dry.

In between, the remaining river is very pretty.

And obviously, if you can look down from the ridge trail and see the valley trail, you can look up and see the ridge from the valley. There is actually a person standing just to the left of the lone tall tree on the ridge.

Other than that, we watched sunsets...

...watched the rain...

...sat on our very crowded beach (note: this was taken at 3 PM)...

... chased the geckos (or more precisely, a green anole) off the car...

...and the crabs on the beach...

...and the parasailers in the sky...

...and left +28° C to land in -28° C. There's a degree of irony in that.

Glad to be back. Thanks to Brittany for the great housesitting.

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