Sunday, January 15, 2017

Driving Saddle Road

On Dec. 4 the itinerary item was to drive the scenic Saddle Rd., which connects the east and west sides of Big Island.  We had wanted to go up to the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano, but we knew already that it was still snowing up there and the road would be blocked.  Still, we headed out to see what we could see.

That's the slope of Mauna Kea ahead of us ... and yep, there's weather up there.

We passed over many old lava flows, this is one:

Lots of volcanic hills:

Heading up Mauna Kea towards the visitor centre.  Yep, that's snow!

And ... this is where it ends.  If we had been collecting photos of places we'd been weathered out, this would be #5 or so by now:

We did a little short hike up the cratered hills, instead:

Yep, it started actively raining again, such that one layer of rain gear wasn't enough:

Back down towards the saddle, passing some craters on the way:

Below is Mauna Loa in the distance, the other volcano, it's got snow happening up at the top too, but you can't see it from the saddle, it's clouded in at the top.

We stopped at a pullout and it happened to be where the Hilo-Pu'u'o'o trail crosses the road.  This trail crosses an 1855 lava flow, but the route roughly follows more ancient trails.  We would have walked part of it except it was, yeah, raining:

Our rental car awaits back at the highway.

We stopped at Rainbow Falls on the way in to Hilo.  Ironically, due to the rain, no rainbow today, but on a clear day I guess it habitually has a rainbow in the spray.

There were banyan trees near the falls:

And, since we had shortened and reduced our stops of the day due to the rain, we got to the hotel early.  Here's Ed sitting in the open air lounge:

Here's hoping for some less miserable weather tomorrow ...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weathered out again, but off to Big Island

Saturday, Dec. 3 was a beautiful day, so we headed off towards the Iao valley to see an interesting piece of mountain called the Iao needle.  That's the Iao valley straight ahead:

We didn't get far though - as we approached the road on the outskirts of Kahului that goes into the park, there was an electronic sign telling us the road and the park were closed.  It didn't say why, but we are guessing that there was likely flooding after the past few biblical days of rain.

So ... once again we were making new plans on the fly.  As I checked the guidebook, Ed turned the car south.  Got these pictures of the mountains as we drove:

We decided to do a hike, part of the Lahaina Pali trail, which was a pedestrian and mule road back in the 1800's.  The next few photos are from that.

The landscape was interesting but not very varied.  After around a half hour we turned around and decided to go walk on a nearby beach.  Here's one more photo I took on the way down, showing the Haleakala volcano off in the distance, with its stubborn weather system still hanging around the summit:

The beach was beautiful, here's just one photo of it:

Before long, it was time to drive back to Kahului and catch our plane to Big Island.  On the way there we passed this old sugar plant.  I had to lighten the photo to see any detail, so the sky got really washed out, it was the same spectacular blue as the other photos:

Our plane to Big Island was a little Cessna Caravan, a 9-seater.  We were sitting in "first class":

Took a few photos during the flight.  These two are of the resort area of Maui, we never went to that part of the island, looks kind of suburban with all the development.

Here's our first view of Big Island.  Hmmm, is that weather we see on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano we want to visit tomorrow?

These volcanoes, they leave lava fields lying around everywhere!

After we landed it quickly got dark, so no more photos until we continue our adventure tomorrow ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The other side of Haleakala National Park

On Dec. 2 we went to see the ocean side of Haleakala National Park.  The rain was easing up but showers were still intermittent.

Just another pretty little waterfall along the road on the way there from Hana:

I clicked the shutter too late on this one, but in several places all over Hawaii there would be large Poinsettia plants and hedges lining the roads:

This came out a bit blurry, but is a taste of the jungle drive on the way to the park:

An amazing waterfall on the way there:

Once there, I had my first up-close encounter with a banyan tree.  If you're not familiar with them, they send down aerial roots from the branches that grow into accessory trunks, very surreal and amazing:

We hiked along a short trail to the seven sacred pools.  In normal weather, these are tranquil, peaceful swimming holes with gentle waterfalls that trickle into them.  Not today!!

A bit of the coastline - the grey skies and black volcanic rock are making the greens really vibrant:

Here we're hiking further up the trail, above the pools, to another waterfall:

It rained on us, of course.  The hike was pretty miserable with the constant rain and the mud, no fun trying to stay on your feet either:

Here's the waterfall.  There was another really high one further up the trail, but the trail was closed up that way due to trees having fallen in the torrential rains and high winds the day before, so we just turned around here.

Some more poinsettias on the drive back - I never did get a good clear picture, but this gives you the idea!

More waterfalls ...

The drive takes you through many valleys between the mountains on the way back to central Maui.  This is the only good photo I got of one, I didn't mean to get myself in it but there I am...

We stayed in Kahului overnight to catch our plane the next day to go to Big Island.  From our decidedly budget hotel you could see a container ship being loaded:

And here is a view from the beach there.  It was finally clear enough that you could see the mountains on the west side of the island.