Great Hikes

The very best hikes I've ever done to date!

[I found this item on the Internet somewhere - not a hike I have done, but one I want to do. if you wait long enough, you'll see my version of the same hike! Cool]

It was August of 1977 when Fred Dodge and his two teen-age children, Charlie, 17, and Alyce (Tootsie), 16, and I hiked across the north slope of the Kohala mountain from the end of the road above Pololu Valley to Waipio Valley. I had hiked the Kohala Ditch trail with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club some years before on a trip organized by Dick Booth, I believe. On that trip we had taken the inland trail, and wound behind a waterfall and in and out of many deep gulches before reaching the end of the trail. This time we stayed on the coastal route, crossing the mouth of Pololu Valley and climbing the wall on the far side. Here the trail forks, with the right branch running up the ridge and eventually connecting with the inland trail in Honokane Nui Valley.

Read more: Hiking the Kohala Ditch

Reading up on Kauai you get easily turned on by descriptions of its marvelous natural beauty. They call it 'the Garden Isle', and it is so special that even Hawaiians will trek out there to visit. Kauai is the backdrop for innumerable movies as well as the scenery behind a great many honeymoon pictures.

{moszoomimglink:21 Kalalau Valley from high above} There are plenty wonderful hikes in Kauai, from short paths to a lighthouse to multi-day excursions to Kalalau Valley, a miracle of inaccessible beauty. A great many wonderful hikes are concentrated around Koke'e state park, on the West side of the island, up on the mountain that forms the core of Kauai.

Of all the hikes in Koke'e, then, the most spectacular is the hike on the Nualolo / Awaawapuhi trails. You'll get to see scenery and colors you won't find anywhere else; you'll walk on a razor's edge with nothing on your side for a thousand feet; you'll walk under a gentle waterfall; you'll be standing on top of a vertical cliff so scary, it will make you think twice before you follow my advice again!

Read more: Awaawapuhi Trail, Kauai, HI

{moszoomimglink:12-49 Focus on the cloud and the sky turns blue} Maui is made up of two volcanoes joined at the hip by a low-lying valley. The Western volcano, aptly named 'West Maui Mountains' is old and weathered, while the Eastern one, Haleakala, erupted as recently as 1790.

Haleakala is a gigantic presence in the backyard of Maui. Its gentle slopes carry nature from the tropical paradise of the Hana coast to a harsh, almost Alpine summit. In between, you'll find cowboys tending herds and flower farms, wild rivers and incongruous deserts.

The grandest sight, though, is the crater itself, the summit of the ancient volcano. It is witness to the power of nature: the destructive power, but the power to transform even mere rock into items of beauty.

This is a fairly long hike either in the cold clouds or in the blazing sun of 10,000 ft. You must be prepared to both, and pack clothes covering your whole body, sunscreen, food and plenty of water. Remember: the weather shifts very quickly, and you may end up sweating on one section just to freeze on the next one!

Read more: Haleakala Crater, Maui, HI

The Big Island of Hawai'i is famous for its volcanoes. It actually is not one, but five volcanoes that are joined by overlapping lava flows. They vary in age and activity, and the youngest and most active of them has been the center of attention ever since mankind reached the islands.

{moszoomimglink:It was really flowing} Kilauea means spewing, and no volcano on Earth could be as true to this name. Kilauea has been spewing incessantly since 1992, and to this day you can hike up the brank new lava and see the red flow coming down the mountain.

{moszoomimglink:From Jaggar museum, looking into the caldera} The summit area of Kilauea is currently just a hickup in its much larger sister mountain, Mauna Loa. A dozen or more craters are lined up in an amazing cluster, the most prominent being the Kilauea caldera itself, a gargantuan gaping hole in the ground, with another smaller but deeper hole, Halema'uma'u, considered to be the house of the volcano goddess, Pele.

Slightly to the East of Kilauea is a much smaller, but still very impressive crater known as 'Little Kilauea', or Kilauea Iki. This crater has been dormant for a few decades, but was the location of the most amazing eruption of 1959, when a gigantic fountain of lava shot out of the side of the crater, filling the crater until it had turned into a lava lake. The eruption then stopped and moved to another vent, but the lava was trapped and took a few decades to cool down for real.

Read more: Kilauea Iki Crater, Big Island, HI

{moszoomimglink:First view of Yosemite - El Capitan and Half Dome}Have you ever gone to Yosemite? Well, I had been living in California for years before I took the time and drove there. It was a chilly autumn morning, the leaves were already brightly turning and I had nothing better to do.

I left early and stayed no time. To a certain degree, I only wanted to say I had been there. Tell myself, that is, since there was nobody else who would have cared.

A year later, it was Thanksgiving, I had just come back from Hawai'i. My housemate surprised me by saying he had rented a room at Yosemite lodge for the holiday, just to escape the cooking. We would drive up on Thursday morning, have dinner at the lodge, and maybe do a hike or two.

{moszoomimglink:El Capitan}Things worked out beautifully. It was unseasonably warm, maybe five degrees above average. We got there in the early afternoon, went on a short hike to Vernal Fall and had dinner at the main restaurant. Mountain air, excellent preparation and the comparison with home cooking made it a real feast. The room was understandably full, but waiting times were close to nil - reservations were not required.

Read more: Four Mile Trail, Yosemite, CA
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