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Kauai Hike - Mohihi Ridge Part 1

Monday, December 03, 2012

In early November 2012, my husband Tom and I were fortunate to spend some time in Kauai, our little garden paradise. We've been there many times before - at least 20 times - and that should be a clue that we enjoy it there very much. One of our favorite activities there is hiking. Well, to tell the truth, that's our favorite activity anywhere we go and it's not exactly a secret, haha! There are a lot of people who don't even recognize me if my hair is fixed up and I'm wearing make up - they are used to seeing me look more like this - hair shoved into a ponytail, wearing a visor or a hat, no makeup, casual clothes and out on a trail somewhere!

So during our recent trip, we took advantage of a number of opportunities to hike on the island, in particular in the area of Koke'e State Park and Waimea Canyon, where there are many features we don't usually see here at home in Orange County, California. One of those hikes was along the Mohihi Ridge, part of which we had hiked before but part of which was totally new to us. We drove as far as we could along Mohihi Road, which was mentioned in several recent blogs. It is a 'dirt road' which means it's the red clay that's common there so it gets rutted and slick with the slightest rain. This section is in really good shape but you might get a little hint of how it might look after a heavy rain.

It's also only a couple of miles 'as the crow flies' from Waialeale, which has the reputation for being the wettest place on earth, getting 600-700 inches of rain a year. So putting two and two together, you can imagine that we didn't want to drive our ordinary rental car very far on the road - people do that all the time only to discover they are stuck and the ONLY tow truck that goes out there charges a minimum of $500 for a simple tow from an area near the road - if we had driven as far as we hiked and gotten stuck, it could be as much as $2k just for the towing service, not counting any damage that might be done to the vehicle. Soooo, needless to say, we didn't drive very far and pulled into a parking spot before reaching any of the rougher sections of the road. There were some very pretty ferns near where we left the car.

And lots of strawberry plants in bloom

We headed out on the road, which is actually a single lane most of the way.

We had hiked the day before in this area and it was very overcast but this day we had blue skies with just a few light clouds.

There were lots of interesting plants along the road - sorry I don't know the names of a lot of these.

Some sections of the road were a little wide open and sunny - good thing we started fairly early in the morning because it did get pretty hot before we got back.

Of course, combining lots of rain with warm weather and sunshine peeking through the trees means lots of interesting plants growing along the side of the road.

A lot of our hiking was surrounding by tall trees.

We really enjoyed the shady sections

There was a good sized stream not too far from the road most of the way - I'm not sure if the water shows up very well in this picture but trust me, it's there!

In some areas, there were large pools of water that would make a nice place to swim but we decided to stick with our original plans of hiking and come back another day if we wanted to swim here - it's a pretty steep slope going down to this pool and we noticed that someone had dropped some sort of metal structure down there which made a very nice sunbathing and possibly diving platform - since we didn't go all the way down, I couldn't tell what it had been in its 'prior life' but it was obviously being used for recreational purposes by this time.

This is the upper portion of The Ditch Trail, which drops down to the water in the previous picture. It looked like some people had driven their trucks in here at some point, although it's obviously not heavily used.

Tom got a little ahead of me on the trail so I took this picture to show a little of the size perspective. Just looking at the pictures without any reference point makes things look a lot smaller than they are - but looking for his 'tiny little body' in the shadow on this picture can give you an idea of how huge the trees and bushes were here - by the way, the top of the trees in the far background is where we planned to have lunch.

We passed by a number of waterfalls but the plant growth was so thick, it was hard to get pictures of them - here's one waterfall picture. It may look like a little trickle on a small rock but it's actually quite a large waterfall and I was looking down at the bottom section of it from the road.

Here's another stream we crossed on a bridge - it looked pretty rickety at first and we were both a little hesitant to cross on it but a closer look showed it was actually a very sturdy metal bridge.

And we continued hiking up the road, which is quite remote by the way - the entire time we were hiking there, which spanned several hours because our hike was about 8 miles long with about 1600' elevation gain, we only saw 2 cars, one of which was a guy working for the state.

We saw this interesting plant - it reminded me a little bit of dodder, aka Witches Hair, but there were too many differences for it to be in the same plant family, I think. Very strange stuff!

There are lots of cedar trees in the area and we came upon these cedar logs that someone had sawed but left - I got the impression they would be back for them but it was just odd to see these piled up on the side of the road.

Finally, we neared the top of the ridge - could this be our picnic area at last?

Whoops, false alarm - a few yards down the road and we realized it was just a little bump and we still had another section of the canyon to cross. Sigh!

We could look across the forest and see our destination in the distance - not quite there yet!!

We were near yet-another-stream....lots of them in this area!!

I'll end Part 1 of this hike with a picture of some beautiful butterflies I spotted up there - one of them posed very nicely for me but there are actually THREE butterflies in this picture. The other two are flittering around and hard to see - they actually look something like a leaf but one is to the left side of the picture along the edge and the other is just above and about half-way between the other two butteflies as far as distance from the left edge of the picture. Hope you can spot them!

I'll post some more pictures tomorrow so be sure to check back again!

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