Photographing some of the gulches, waterfalls, streams, and historic bridges on the old Mamalahoa Highway near Onomea I note that these jungle gulches were often used as dumping spots for cars and trucks.
Numerous engine blocks, frames, tires and axles can be seen in several streams. Most of the vehicles appear to be mid-twentieth century, the remains well weathered by the elements. An engine block among the boulders, an axle protruding from the brush.
One or two? More than that… Just below the bridge at Hanawi there is an entire cliff face made of vehicles, the rusting frames making up the whole side of the gulch. The Jeep grill protruding just above the stream made a interesting photo…
Since I had to drive back from Hilo anyway, may as well have some fun along the way. I had spent some time on Google maps the night before scouting a good set of waterfalls to drone and ended up choosing Kawainui… A good choice.
The Hamakua coast features hundreds upon hundreds of waterfalls, from modest cascades to spectacular falls hundreds of feet high. I wanted some good video footage of a classic Hawaiian Island waterfall.
I needed a waterfall that was big enough to be impressive and offer open airspace for the drone, not overhung with trees and branches to create flight hazards. I was looking for a falls that was not close to a house, no need to be rude and fly over someone’s back yard. I needed easy access from a road.
Kawainui stream fit all the criteria, with several waterfalls to choose from.
As I parked and walked out onto the bridge to get a look at the stream I met a young man just hanging out on the century old bridge. We struck up a conversation, as he rested, he and his friends had been jumping off the bridge into the deep pool below.
We chatted about the road, the railroad, the old sugar landings along the coast, the odd tunnel just above the bridge we stood on that was likely another relic of sugar. He gave me the layout of the falls and where to find the trails through the thick jungle. Growing up swimming in this stream he knew the area well.
A big falls was located just downstream from the bridge, my conversation confirming what I had seen in the satellite photos… A pretty waterfall that should provide a nice visual for photography. As I flew the drone over the edge the first time and spun it to look at the falls I was happy, just what I was looking for.
The original plan had been to hike Puʻu Kole, a dramatically red cinder cone visible from the summit access road. The red coloration leads to the name, Kole, which translates as red.
What actually happened is that I climbed the wrong puʻu.
Puʻu is Hawaiian for hill and is generally used to refer to the many cinder cones that dot the landscape of this volcanic island. As prominent landmarks these hills are used to describe the land, and can be found as references in the old land surveys. Every prominent puʻu has a name. The summit of Puʻu Kole is used to define the modern Hamakua and Hilo district boundaries.
As I traversed the R1 4WD road the side of Mauna Kea was enveloped in heavy fog, thick enough that you could not see a hundred yards, sometimes less. I was pretty sure I was in the vicinity of the target, and sure enough the shadow of a large puʻu was visible in the mist. So I parked the vehicle and climbed it.
It was when I reached the top and looked downhill that I noted there was another puʻu hiding in the fog. It was then I realized that I might just be on the wrong hill. Checking the maps I realized that I had climbed Puʻu Palaolelo.
Wrong? Perhaps this is the wrong word, there was no particular reason I needed to be on the right puʻu other than my desire to explore a place I had seen so often while ascending or descending the summit road. The error was fortuitous in that my original target hill was enveloped in thick fog all morning, while Puʻu Palaolelo, a little higher on the mountain, was alternately in the fog and in the sunlight.
It was this play of fog and sunlight that led to the most dramatic experience of the day. When I neared the summit a beautiful fogbow appeared. Even better, when the angle of the sunlight and the steep slope of the puʻu allowed a glory and even a spectre of the broken appeared in the fog.
Standing atop the puʻu I could not miss the beauty of the morning. Still early the low sunlight was rich in color. Across the saddle you could see Mauna Loa, capped in vivid white, quite a contrast to her black lava flows. A chill wind swept fog over the summit, at times I was spattered with droplets. As the fog and light played across the landscape my camera memory card quickly filled. It was a satisfying hike, resulting in some pretty photos. My original goal of climbing Puʻu Kole lies unfulfilled, an excuse for another walk on the mountain.
I have visited the gardens several times across our years on the island. The garden is a beautifully maintained array of tropical plants collected from across the globe. Set in the lush jungle of the Hamakua coast above the pretty Onomea Bay the gardens are always a treat to visit.
I admit plants are pretty, but the dizzying array of botanical specimens leaves me just a bit overwhelmed. Yes, it is yet another pretty orchid. I love to study the local plants and animals, but this collection from all over the world lacks much organization, having little focus. No matter, my main interest in visiting is to have fun with a camera and take advantage of the many photographic opportunities of these beautiful gardens.
Of course, being a tropical rain-forest it rained for our visit. I have never actually managed to visit the gardens when it was not raining. Still, the soft light of heavy overcast and the drops of water on leaves and flowers are just another photographic opportunity.
As my mother and Deb wandered around talking plants, I wandered nearby with a tripod and an umbrella borrowed from the entry station. I did come up with a few pretty photos. Not a bad day for a stroll on the garden.
It was not until much later that I realized what we had stumbled upon. One of those interesting places that makes Hawaiʻi special. One of those places that is now gone forever. It was a few years ago now, just travelling around the island with my sister-in-law, on island to visit for a week…
Wandering up the street ahead of the gals I saw it. A shop full of fabric is a problem, the bright colors would attract my wife like a bee to flowers. The little shops along main street of Honokaʻa all had colorful window displays designed to attract tourists. I expected there would be delays as the gals wandered in and out of the shops, just to be expected. Among these Nene’s Sewing Corner was definitely a problem. I casually blocked the door as my wife strolled up.
She, of course, realized what I was doing. Despite her attraction to the bolts of cloth, we were hungry and it took little to convince her to move on in the direction of food. Our stop in Honokaʻa was for lunch, not fabric shopping.
On the way back to the car we again wandered past the little shops, this time there was nothing to do but give in to the inevitable and go in.