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Waimanu Valley, Island of Hawai'i

I have returned from my trip to Hawai'i! Unsurprisingly, it was perhaps the greatest trip I have completed yet. I experienced such a wide array of places and things: from sandy beaches to 10,000 foot volcanic summits dotted with snow, from tropical rainforests to fresh crackling lava, from powerful rocky shorelines to steaming craters, from cushy resorts to sleeping in my car, from eating raw tortilla shells as an entree to decadent freshly-caught fish, from gaggles of stereotypical tourists to heart-felt and compassionate locals. I am very excited to show you photos from this trip to the islands of Maui and Hawai'i (a.k.a. "The Big Island"). There are a lot of them to come.

This particular photo was taken on The Big Island in the middle of one of the greatest three day stretches of my life. Here you see the view from my backpacking campsite at the end of a 10 mile trail that first descends the steepest paved road in the United States, crosses a black sand beach with a river crossing, climbs 1300 vertical feet of sweaty switchbacks, traverses 12 down-and-up gulches, descends a slippery 1300 vertical feet of switchbacks, and then crosses a waist-deep river full of slippery and pointy boulders. Whew. It was certainly the most difficult hike I've ever done, but also perhaps the most beautiful and rewarding. The entire trail was gorgeous with quickly-changing, breathtaking views.

We arrived at our site after 9 hours of hiking absolutely exhausted, smelly, soaking wet, and hungry, just about during the last hour before sunset. I waded into this little river in nothing but my skivvies and stood as still as possible to keep the water calm and reflective. I took photos here and there but mostly I could not take my eyes off of the massive distant waterfalls, the lush sloping valley walls, and the golden light reflecting off the clouds. It was like something out of a travel magazine. It was remarkable how quickly I felt fully refreshed. I wasn't even tired or hungry anymore - completely sated and content. This valley healed me! Still smelly though. Suddenly a really big crawfish touched my bare foot EEEEEEK and I got out of there. I spent the rest of the evening sated and content from dry land with my lovely wife.

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