Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sun and Moon on Ka'iwa Ridge

August 1, 2012

A bit tired from my 1200 calorie diet and the trek through Kalihi Valley the day before I spent most of the day caring for my ever increasing stock of native plants, my chickens, and my yard.  Feeling unfulfilled I headed over to one of my staple hikes, Ka'iwa Ridge to take some shots of the full moon rising over Lanikai.

A short drive later I arrived at my destination and was lucky enough to find a place to park as this hike has become so popular with locals and tourists.  Shouldering my pack I headed up the street and joined the trail.

It's been a couple months since my last trip up but I couldn't help but notice the amazing deteroration of the trail.  The initial section beyond the chainlink fence with Blue Stone is completely devastated.  Yet another set of ropes has been placed there by someone but there are now at least three ways to climb up the first ascent.  An attempt to cut some stairs in was made but unless someone actually builds some the erosion control it will only get worse.  What a shame!

I stopped at the first landing to snap a few pictures of the moon already above the Mokulua Islands and Lanikai.

I didn't bother to take a shot of the moon itself with a larger lens figuring I could do that from my lanai at home later.  I did like the way this one turned out with the yellowy glow with my 200mm.  Lately I've been watching the moon a little closer and and have been learning the names the ancients had for it's various phases.  It's given me a greater appreciation not just of the moon but for how out of touch we've become with nature in our modern world.  Someday I hope not to return to some primitive existence devoid of technology but to try and incorporate it into my life.  Some may say I'm doing that now with my explorations of O'ahu but I feel more like a visitor who checks out of my busy day of work, family, and modern life and heads into the mountains for a day of sightseeing.  I feel like I'm snorkeling into nature but yearn to breath it like a fish!

The Akua Moon
"The Akua Moon occurs on the fourteenth night and is the second of four full moons and on this night, the moon is now distinctly round. All things reproduce abundantly (ho'oakua). Fishing is good on this kapu night, when the akua(gods) are about, and offerings are made to akua to increase food (mea 'ai) and fish (i'a)" - Hawaiian Moon Calendar, Hunt-n-Fish Maui!

After repacking my gear I headed up the hillside further towards Fire Station Podmore.  There were still late arrivals like myself heading up the ridge.

I passed these two ladies who were enjoying the moon and a little conversation.

Leaving the ladies to enjoy their night I headed further up the ridge approaching the first Fire Control Station bathed in the moon light.

There were plenty of people at the first fire control station so I continued up towards the two tiered station beyond.  Along the short pathway I noted the Night Blooming Cereus were flowering so stopped for a couple shots.

In 1836, Mrs. Bingham planted the hedge of Hylocereus undatus, the famed cactus known in Hawaii as panini o kapunahou. Its exotic blossoms still bloom during the closing summer months on the Punahou walls. The hedge is on two sides of the school and about three hundred meters (football fields) long.

From July to as late as October the hedge blooms and several times there is a wall of white flowers hundreds of yards long. Supposedly all the H. undatus in Hawaii came from the wall of Punahou School. People used to come in the evenings from all over the island to see them blooming and "borrow" some cuttings so that now they have this species all over the islands. - Donald Fitzgerald, 1991. Pearl Harbor, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Punahou's Cereus Hedge., The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 25

I didn't want to bleach out the shots with a flash and since my good one was at home anyway I added a little artificial light to sneak a shot of one of the flowers.  The wind was strong enough that it was tough to get a decent one of them blowing in the breeze!

At the two tiered station there was a couple doing full moon yoga.  I waited and waited for them to finish but after about half an hour I threw in the towel unable to get the shot I'd come up to get.  Oh well, it's a short hike and I can head back up there any old night to get it because I won't need the moonlight for it.  While I waited I snapped a shot of my favorite section of the Ka'iwa Ridge which runs beyond the bunkers and over the the junction to where you have to either continue down towards Lanikai or down into Enchanted Lake.

Yoga session still in progress, I turned the lens to the stars.  We don't see as many stars these days with all the light pollution but I managed to grab a  shot with a wide open aperture and quick shutter speed to keep them from blurring too much.

Giving up, I headed back towards home but just a few moments later the Honolulu Fire Department's helicopter buzzed the ridge at high speed.  It was amazing seeing it wisk in and out of some of the small valleys in the hillside before whizzing past me.  I guess they need some practice with this kind of stuff to keep them sharp.  Plucking people off mountains all the time must get pretty hairy!  Totally caught off guard, I just fired off a shot and got this blurry image.  It wasn't more than 100 feet from my head!

HFD highspeed pass!
I wasn't the only one leaving, it seemed that aside from the yoga couple everyone was heading home.  The party at the first bunker was breaking up as I approached.

On the way down I grabbed one more quick shot of the stars high above Lanihuli and Konauanui.  Despite the white balance correction you can see the nasty orange glow of the high pressure sodium lights in the clouds below. 

On the way down I chatted with one of the Swiss tourists that had been at the first bunker.  As I paused for more shots they got a way ahead of me but I caught up later.  One had stopped along the trail and I witnessed another "moon" from one of them- I didn't take a picture!  Pee off the trail people, you get better privacy and for those following you down would rather not step in any puddles! 

At the top of the first climb I took my last shot on the trail for the night. 

After arriving home I set up for a final shot of the Akua Moon before heading for bed, I had to get up at 4:30 for the sunrise!

The Akua Moon
The alarm was awful.  I've been on this crazy 1200 calorie diet for almost three weeks now and while I've shed some excess weight the lack of real food leaves me feeling weak in the mornings.  I put on the same clothes I'd just taken off hours before and headed back to the ridge I'd just left after a quick stop at 7/11 to grab a cup of coffee.

This morning my friend Jamie from work joined me and we started up the ridge trail at about 5:15am.  There were already cars lined up on the street and we did our best to keep as quiet as possible as we locked up.

We stopped first at the vantage point above the first climb and I took a couple shots.  They all came out strange and I realized I'd never reset all the options on my camera from the night before.  Whoops!  After getting the camera set back up I started with a wide angle photo of Venus over the Mokulua Islands.

 Jamie forged ahead while I continued to tinker with settings and take a few more shots.

  He was happy to beat me to the first fire control station!

Looking over to the other two-tiered station we realized if we wanted prime real estate this is where we'd have to say so we set up our gear and awaited the sunrise.

Neither one of us was looking to good I'm sure and Jamie's fatigue is visible in this next shot.  He's one of those Olympics junkies and stayed up all night watching them.

A short time later the sun began to peak up over the horizon but was hidden by some low clouds.

Although we missed the disc of the sun over the water we were treated to this beauty.  It reminds me of the Japanese "Rising Sun".

Eventually the sun broke free of the ocean and clouds blasting light over everything.

Moku Nui Island cast is wide shadow over a spear of light making a dramatic landscape.

Satisfied with the dozens of shots of the rising sun over the Mokuluas we departed to check out the Night Blooming Cereus in the morning light.

They were still fresh from the night so I waded in the the thorns and did my best to capture their beauty.  Unfortunately none of the flowers were easy to get too and it took a few scratches and pokes just to get these.

Gouged and bleeding a little we headed to the end of our jouney for a couple last shots before starting back down to the cars.  

The sun is up!
Both of us have to work today and getting up extra early for night shifts is going to make the day a little tougher but that's a price I'm happy to pay!

Heading home!
More pictures from this trail and others I've done can be viewed on Flickr.  Aloha and mahalo for reading!


  1. Fantastic shots. Can I use one of them as my desktop background?

  2. Sure just let me know which on you like and I'll hook you up.