This is a continuation of yesterday's blog - where I left off, my husband Tom and I had not quite reached our lunch destination, although we weren't too far from it. Just before we reached the top, a car drove by - this may not seem like a very startling thing to happen but the road is quite washed out in some places, the majority of 'tourists' never go up there and the rental agreements don't allow rental cars up there either, plus it was a weekday - so we had hiked for a couple of hours without seeing anyone at this point and it was actually quite a surprise to have this guy trundle by!
I guess the guy works for the state of Hawaii and was going up there to take care of something because we saw him head back down a couple of hours later. In the meantime, we enjoyed a lot of nice plants
and pretty flowers
I got a closeup of this one, which isn't nearly as large as it seems in the picture
We saw a side trail heading off somewhere toward the Alakai Swamp - if we knew the trails a little better, we might have been tempted to see where it went but at that point, we were hungry [well, at least I was] and ready for a break - we knew we were getting really close to our picnic area so we climbed on and decided we simply have to go back to see where all the side trails lead, haha!
Finally the road flattened out and we knew we were really close to our lunch spot.
And at last, we could see the picnic and camp area up on the ridge just ahead! Not sure if you can see it well but on the 'skyline' there is a building and that's where we were headed.
This particular spot is sort of 'trailhead central' because a lot of roads and trails merge together there. Here's the Na Pali Kona Forest Reserve sign
Our picnic area had stunning views - looking in one direction, you can see some of the cliffs of Waimea Canyon
Looking in another direction, you can see the massive Alakai Swamp
There's a very nice covered picnic area and we were pleased to see that someone had left a very nice flower to decorate our table! I believe it's Kahili Ginger.
We got a very good view of Waialeale, which is fairly unusual as it is typically shrouded in clouds and not really visible. In fact, there's a myth that getting a look at Waialeale is super good luck - but then again, we already felt extremely lucky just to be there!
At any rate, you can see for yourself how close we were to the 'wettest place in the world' and that explains a lot why there's a gigantic swamp right next to it! We are so happy we chose to hike up there - this is now most tourists get to see this area. Either this or they don't see it - so I'd say we were VERY lucky to be able to hike to the spot!
This is what they want to see - a good look at the Alakai swamp and the huge Sugi Cedar grove - you can see the cedars dark and tall against the swamp foliage in this picture pretty clearly.
After we ate, we hiked a little ways along another road leading to the Alakai Swamp trail.
We had awesome views of the Alakai Swamp along the way - here's another look at that Sugi Cedar Grove
From our new vantage point, we could also see other sections of the swamp, which is really an amazing place - Tom and I hiked down there in December 2006 and one of my 'bucket list' items is to backpack across the swamp to camp on the Na Pali Coast, then hike back up. Maybe the next trip.....
Here's the sign with some distances but let me tell you, the 'distance' is a little deceptive. After all, how hard could it be to hike 1.2 miles anyway?
But what they don't mention on the sign is the TYPE of trail - it's mostly wet clay, very steep and not very easy to navigate. Most hiking is estimated at 2-3mph overall rate - fast hikers might go 4mph [I'm including elevation gain and average trail conditions in these figures] but the advice here is to allow at least an hour per mile - we hiked a different trail down into the swamp and there were sections where we slowed almost to glacier speed because it's slippery, very steep and very rutted - the combination makes it a lot harder than it sounds for "1.2 miles" [one way] - you can see the start of the trail here - there's a wide, gentle slope for a few feet, then it drops off sharply and continues to drop sharply the rest of the way, haha!
So, we decided not to hike down there that day but here's a couple of pictures from our trip in December 2006 [my last hike before I started taking care of my dad from January 2007 until July 2010]. We went down a different trail but they all look somewhat the same:
And here's me [curly hair - woowhee!] standing by the trail sign - it gives you another little perspective on the trail conditions and why a mile isn't 'just a mile' out there!
One last picture from December 2006, my husband and I are standing in the spot known as Alakai Crossing, where the Alakai Swamp Trail crosses the Pihea Trail. That day we had hiked there on the Pihea Trail but someday we will take one of the other trails down there - notice the boardwalk along the actual swamp floor - it might look dry in this picture but there are areas where it's so boggy, you could sink to your knees [or deeper!!] with the first step so they build this really nice boardwalk to protect hikers AND protect the swamp itself.
For those of you who noticed, yep, I was about 30 lbs lighter then - gained a ton of weight taking care of my dad for 3-1/2 yrs and darn it, this happens to be the STUBBORN kind of fat - the kind that loves me so much, it just doesn't want to leave! Sigh!! But my current goal is to get back to the size I was on that hike, even though I thought at the time I was too heavy because I weighed a lot more than I used to - as the saying goes, don't you wish you were as skinny as you were when you first thought you were fat? Haha - have a great day!!!