Angel’s Landing to Observation Springs

Day two in Zion National Park.  We planned to go to sleep early to get up to catch the first shuttle up the canyon for Angel’s Landing.  Our site was next to a group site, and we watched as more and more people began to  park and get out.  It seemed like a group of people who hadn’t seen each other for a long while and had a lot of catching up to do.  It’s not bad when a few people are talking, but after the arrival of about 50 people, the talking echoes through the canyon and you feel as if you are in a very crowded bar.  We listened to this for a few hours and didn’t get much sleep.  The rangers came by and talked to them eventually.  We still woke up early, and noticed they were all up, and all getting ready to hike somewhere.  We decided to get ready in a hurry and catch the shuttle before they did.

We walked to the shuttle, got on, and enjoyed a brief period of peaceful silence, until the same crowd of 50 people began piling up in the shuttle, and the shuttled turned into another very crowded bar.  We sighed, but agreed it was unlikely they would be doing the same hike as us.  Sure enough, they got off at Angel’s Landing, and we jogged up ahead for the first 15 minutes.  Whew!  It was a pretty funny experience.  I learned to not reserve your campground near a group site. Or embrace it and try to make friends.  One of those two.

We hiked up to Angel’s Landing, but only did part of it, because I was being a blonde and didn’t realize how much further it went.  I swear that huge mountain just blended in with the one behind it.  We did the first chained section, then went back thinking that was it, and realized how we hardly made progress on it at all.  Then it got crowded on the chained section and we decided to move on and save it for another time (or lifetime).  We hiked a few miles further to the top of the rim at Observation Springs, and did 10 miles round-trip.  It was an awesome hike with breathtaking views, and we hardly saw anyone the entire time.

At the end of the hike we stopped and cooled off at the Virgin River along the way back to the shuttle, which was a perfect end the hike.  Back at the campground we took our camping chairs to the section of the river nearby, and soaked our feet in the icy water while enjoying a glass of wine, sans-crowded bar.

Rainy Day Waterfalls

It’s rainy season in Hawaii.  The past few weeks have been rainy, rainy, rainy.  One of my favorite quotes to tell students, especially when I was substitute teaching, is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  It’s a metaphor, of course, but can be taken literally!  I better practice what I preach!  Last weekend Dan and I had a rainy day beach day, taking a long walk with our umbrellas.  Yesterday we were trying to decide what to do.  Bowling?  Movie?  Nah.  We decided to go on a hike.  I remember seeing this small canyon off to the side of the Old Pali Highway, and thought it would possibly be a place for waterfalls on a rainy day.  We decided to see if this theory were true, and turns out it was.  Yesterday I realized how nice it was to hike in the rain, because everything green was so much more GREEN.  We took our GoPro and Dan had fun filming some creative shots.

Overlooking Kaneohe and Kailua from the Old Pali Highway.
The small canyon we hiked up.

Koko Head Crater

This hike is short, but an amazing workout!  Old railroad track that used to pull military supplies to bunkers on top during WWII are now used as stairs.  It doesn’t look as hard as it is, but it’s definitely tough.  The views at the top are stunning, when it’s clear Molokai and Maui can be seen on the horizon.

Koko Head Crater
The old tram railway, now used as stairs.
If you look close you can see the Molokai and Maui.

The view inside Koko Head Crater. There is a desert-like botanical garden in there, with a variety of cacti.
View from the top.
Hanauma Bay

Hike to Ka’au Crater

Completing this hike means that I have hiked all three craters on Oahu! Dan hasn’t done Koko Head Crater yet, but we’ll get to it soon.

One thing that’s so interesting about Oahu is how quick and easy it is to go from urban to nature. This hike is just 5 minutes from the H-1 Freeway through Honolulu, at the end of a Honolulu neighborhood. You quickly go from city views to mountain views, valleys, waterfalls and steep ridge-lines (especially if you do the the crater loop).

On this hike we went with friends John and Rachel. I know Rachel from work; we both work at Le Jardin Academy.

Technically we did the hike backwards. I don’t think think there is a right or wrong way to hike a loop, but from most of the reviews I read on Yelp, people either went up the waterfalls and down the ridge hike, or both up and down the waterfalls. We went up the ridge hike, and down the waterfalls. I liked it this way, it was a huge surprise when we approached this steep drop-offs above the waterfalls. Not in a scary way, just in a “wow” way.

Overall the hike took us about four and half hours. Dan spotted a chameleon that was blending in nicely with the stick it was clinging on to. I am surprised he saw it. It hung out on Rachel’s arm for a while, then went on my arm, and climbed on top of my head before I could stop it! It was too funny. Along the hike we found and ate some ripe mountain apples, which is surprising, because I hardly see them this time of year. We climbed trees, swung on vines and rope swings, all tripped or fell in some way, and came out exhausted and covered in mud. It was a blast.

The chameleon Dan spotted
He climbed up my arm, and then my head!
Apparently he was attracted to my sunglasses.

Just hanging out.
Getting down was not as easy as I thought it would be!


Looking back toward Honolulu.
The view inside Ka’au Crater
Green mountains, low-lying clouds, and sunshine illuminating the foliage.
Scratched-up legs and muddy shoes.

Rachel and John making their way down using ropes.
Looking up the highest waterfall.
Rachel overlooking a steep drop-off.
Dan and I
The lowest waterfall.
Dan’s muddy legs and feet.

Kalihi Ice Ponds

Hiked yesterday to Kalihi Ice Ponds.  I had never heard of Kalihi Ice Ponds, and it’s not in any of my guidebooks.  I randomly came across it through Yelp, of all places.  This place is only a 15-20 minute drive from our apartment, and it’s less than a mile walk.  Such a beautiful spot.  The water was chilly (hence the name), but it felt rejuvenating to float around and take it all in.  
Another view.

Lanikai Pillboxes

The Lanikai Pillboxes is one of my favorite hikes.  The views are beautiful, it has varied terrain (sure beats going to the gym), and it’s close to home.  I found a longer version of this trail than loops around and back into town, and I swing by the beach on the way back to my car.
The trail as it continues past the pillboxes.
Just another day in paradise.
Nothing feels better after a hike than a swim in the sea 🙂

Waimanalo Stream Tunnel

Dan’s boss told him about a tunnel she went through nearly 25 years ago, which had water rushing at her feet, took 15-20 minutes to go through, and at one point, she had to crawl through on hands and knees.  We decided this sounded awesome, and we set out to find this tunnel.  I don’t know how we found it, we only knew where to begin the trail, and it branched out in so many different directions.  We ended up, at a fork in the trail, taking one that was overgrown.  We’re amazed we found it.
When we saw the gate, we thought it might be locked…turns out it wasn’t locked!
Turning on the headlamp…looking silly while doing so.
The tunnel went on for so long.
The tunnel got smaller here!
We decided to head back, because being deep in a tunnel that just gets smaller is pretty freaky.
Again from the outside.
It looks like it could be a hobbit house.

Old Pali Highway

Yesterday Dan and I went hiking down the Old Pali Highway.  It’s a highway that was used years ago, that’s now overgrown in many places, and goes underneath the new freeway.  We also went off on a fun side trail up a canyon.  Here are a couple pics from the side canyon:
Flying!  It was so windy.
On our hike we ran into a family, and the father had climbed up a tree to catch a chameleon.  He let us hold it, it was so cute!  
View of the mountains from the old highway.
 Part of the old highway that is overgrown and turns into a narrow trail.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail

The last weekend of September we spent Saturday at the North Shore, we went surfing and then had the most amazing ice cream.  It was called coco-mac nut (coconut and macadamia nut).  So good.  They also have a vanilla and bacon flavor!

We also went on a beautiful hike to Kuliouou Ridge, on the south side of the island.  We went mid-day, and the sun lighting up the mountains made for some pretty great photos.
Here they are:

Taking pretty pics for you!
View from the trail.

Strong-man Dan.

Most people stop at the photo above, but it’s possible to go all the way around on the ridge.  We went a bit further, just for a challenge.  
It was worth it going further, because we were rewarded with these stunning views!

Can you see Dan? 
After our hike, we cooled off with a swim at this beach.