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Gimme Shelter

Waimanu Valley, Island of Hawai’i

Continuing the story of my Hawaiian backpacking trip - I’d just hiked 10 strenuous miles, taken photos of the valley at sunset, and my foot was touched by a creepy crawfish and I eeeek’d like a little girl and went to sleep.

Waking up in a secluded paradise the next morning was pretty great too. I took some pretty cool abstract-ish photos of the valley wall reflecting onto the wet black sand beach that I'm looking forward to putting together. We had originally planned to stay in the valley another night but we saw storm clouds a-brewin' and sadly decided to pack up camp early and cross the river, which is kind of a process with only one dry bag. It was like one of those elementary school math problems where you have a boat and a river and only so many people and things can cross and come back at a time. Anyway, we didn’t want to leave the valley too early so we hung out on the beach for a couple hours, then started hiking back up the steep valley wall. About 3 miles away there was a nice pavilion with a roof and floor we would stay at, ensuring we'd be dry and have only 7 miles the next day to hike. Of course, it started to absolutely downpour as we were hiking up so we got pretty soaked. Luckily it was a warm rain, or we would probably have been in danger of hypothermia. Also, the trail stayed pretty in-tact with all the roots and rocks keeping the mud together.

I had no intention of taking my camera out in that heavy rain, but at one point on that 3 mile wet stretch the rain started to let up a little. I looked over and saw an absolutely gorgeous scene that is this photo. Sometimes I am lucky to just look up and see a scene and my brain immediately composes a photo. Most of the time good photos require exploration and experimentation and hard work, but this was one of those satisfying times where it was just right there. The rain made for a really cool, hazy atmosphere amongst the massive trees and the underbrush framed the scene nicely. I dug out my camera and tripod from the dry bag and somehow I was able to pull off a 4 second exposure without getting water on my lens and without the tree leaves blowing too much. As I was looking around for other compositions, the deluge resumed. I packed up my stuff and we trudged on toward the pavilion.

Arriving in it felt like heaven. We wringed out all of our wet things and then wringed them out again. The rain continued into the night but we stayed bone dry thanks to the “luxurious” roof and floor (backpacking sure makes you appreciate the little things in life). The next morning there was no rain. Somehow we got a sliver of cell phone reception and saw there was rain forecast for noon, so we got up before dark and started hiking to make it back dry. Long story short, we did. Hiking back down the Z-trail wasn’t as physically strenuous as going up it, but I kept slipping on its loose rocks, even with trekking poles. That kinda took a mental toll as each treacherous step made me afraid I would slip and hurt myself, or worse, my camera :) I grit my teeth and continued on. How do you eat an entire elephant? One step at a time. That’s what I always say. We crossed the river in Waipio Valley, which was much higher after all the rain but still pretty manageable. We saw wild horses and wild naked hippie children and then walked back up the steepest road in America. It was difficult and slow-going, but walking on the flat, consistent pavement felt like a treat after a couple miles loose rocks and sand. We made it to the top without a problem.

We plunked down in the car, peeled off our sweaty clothes and blasted the AC. We took hand sanitizer showers (surprisingly effective) and found the nearest laundromat to wash our still-wet clothes. We had our first meal at a Portuguese restaurant that tasted like pure bliss. Then we went to an AirBNB for the night, which was absolutely amazing. It used to be an old dance hall but a very nice old hippie lady turned it into a house and an orchard. This orchard apparently contains the oldest macadamia trees in Hawai'i, whose nuts we helped ourselves to. She had a secluded outdoor shower, which felt even better than it sounds. She had friends over and cooked all of us fish tacos with fresh food from her orchard, which we ate by candlelight. She used to be a professional chef so it was fantastic. Her boyfriend was a lead engineer at the famous observatories on the big island, so it was very interesting to hear about the trials and tribulations of that line of work. We drank wine, got along well, and chatted into the night (which for this earlybird means like 10pm). The next morning we had fresh fruit and cacao coffee and said our goodbyes. That was the absolute best way we could have spent the night after a tough backpacking trip, and I will always look back on those 3 days very fondly.

That’s the story, but I still have a few photos from that trip I will post so stay tuned!

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Captured: February 2018
Camera: Nikon D610
Lens: Nikon 16-35 f/4
Settings: ISO100, 27mm, f/11, 4 sec

2018BGObestbrentgoesoutside.comd610detailsfebruaryforesthawaiilandscapenaturenewnikonrainthe big islandtraveltreewaimanu valleywide anglewinter