A Foggy Hike…by Brad Marks

Greetings everyone, I hope everyone was able to enjoy their Christmas (or your celebration of choice) with family and/or friends. Ours was a bit hectic as we started early with our traditional gift exchange which has somehow morphed into “EVERY PRESENT IS MINE” event for Ruger. Hit the treadmill to pre-work off the annual feast and then promptly went to work packing up to head south. Thanks to brilliant idea from Linda, this is the first time we didn’t have to take down the 12′ (by now fire-hazard) real tree in the midst of the chaos. All that effort to get to somewhere with temps above single digits. As we will be dealing with some sketchy roads for at least the first long day… maybe 2, thought it would be a perfect time to bring out one of Brad’s post from another warm location. We’ll catch up later in the week… Brad, take it away…(note, you can click on the images to view the full size images)

Our first trip to the Big Island of Hawaii was in 2002 when we met two of our friends from Boston.  The four of us decided to go on a hike to see the waterfalls of Waipio Valley from a trail at the top of the valley.  Waipio Valley is located on the north side of the Big Island, in the Kohala Watershed Forest Preserve.  This wasn’t where all the tourists take the pretty pictures of the black sand and surf.  We were way back at the beginning of the entire Waipio Valley.  The tour book (Intrigued Legal says I can’t use the name because it’s considered an endorsement) gave us specific non-touristy directions to a fantastic hike with a 1500’ waterfall.  Once we had interpreted the instructions and turned at a certain colored fence located 3 (or so) miles outside of Waimea, because the instructions were that precise. Not really sure where the edge of town really was, it took us a couple of attempts to find the references in the book. We parked the rental car and climbed through the security fence.  Don’t worry, this was a pedestrian entrance to somewhat public grounds, shared with a private owner.  This part of the Big Island is all green; rainforest green not palm tree green.  The horses inside the fence were very happy to see us, or at least the treats they thought we were carrying.  After a few moments of nudging us with their noses, and realizing we had no treats, they wandered off.

The four of us followed the unofficial footpath past the municipal water supply and started into the rainforest.  The elevation was about 2700’ at this point and in the middle of a rainforest.  The temps were much cooler than along the coast, but still very much shorts and T-shirt weather at this point. 

After a minute or two in the rainforest, we kept seeing forms of Hawaiian Ginger along the pleasantly maintained unofficial trail.

Waipio Valley Hike by Brad Marks
(scanned 35mm film negative)

Hit the jump to read more about Brad’s Hawaiian hiking adventure!

Continue reading A Foggy Hike…by Brad Marks

Guest Feature: Hawai’i State Bird…by Brad Marks

Well, the good news is we made it back from Witchita..I mean Wichita yesterday after 10 long hours passing through corn field after cornfield. Pulled into the driveway, bolted into the house, changed and managed to get another training run in. Perfect conditions for the latter half of the actual race – dead tired, legs and back sore from sitting so long and temps dropping as fast as the sun. Now it’s Halloween trail 7×28 (need to find a way to squeeze a few more hours out of each day). Clearly going to be a struggle to get my required posts up with the current pace of things, so pressed the bat signal once again. Brad once again came to my aid – actually, more than came to my aid, brought me not one, but TWO features to help fill the gaps (and I think he is working on another one for you). Cannot thank him enough for the assist and I know you will enjoy this second adventure. I’m going to head back into the woods now and try to get a nasty clown infestation under control – happens every year right before the big party, sigh. Time to step aside and let Brad take the helm once again. Take care and see you down the road.

……Take it away Brad

We were fortunate enough to recently enjoy a lengthy vacation on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Our daughter and her boyfriend were able to join us for the first week.  We spent time on the beaches, snorkeled, took coffee & chocolate plantation tours, and went to a luau.  We drove to the mountains and stayed overnight on the volcano.  We hiked many miles over hardened lava and through the rainforest and near the coast to see 500-year-old petroglyphs.  We watched every sunset possible and caught a few sunrises as well.

We probably went through a gallon of reef-safe sunscreen (OK, I probably did by myself).  We maximized the “unlimited mileage” on our rental car (a little over 2,000 miles total) even though the island is not much more than 90 miles across.  You would think the Hawai’i state bird would be as obvious as the Northern Cardinal is in our home state of Illinois.  You would be wrong.  We couldn’t see more than two up close until our last five hours on the island.

Nene from Brad Marks

Hit the jump to read more of Brad’s adventure.

Continue reading Guest Feature: Hawai’i State Bird…by Brad Marks

Guest Feature: An XXS Year…by Brad Marks

Brian here, I promised you something special if you behaved and I am delighted to bring you our first “Guest Feature”. Some of you may recognize Brad Marks from the many comments to my posts over the years. He has been a long-time friend of mine that started when we both had Information Technology careers at a local Fortune 50 corporation. We actually retired on the exact same day. I have always wanted to bring my readers new adventures while giving my fellow birder friends a chance to share their experiences with a broader community. A toe-tip in the blogging waters so to speak and who knows, maybe a catalyst to embark on their own blog journey – or minimally more future guest spots here. I know you will enjoy Brad’s post and will now hand over the reins and head back into the nightmare lab. Be sure and let him know how much you appreciated his effort in the comments!

……Take it away Brad.

While many of avid birders may be trying for a Big Year (700+ bird species spotted), or Medium Year (350-ish?), I’ve tried to focus (no pun intended) on going for an Extra Extra Small Year (only 45 species YTD, +6 for the Life List).  I know Brian’s loyal readers are used to a certain visual and textual representation standard so I hope this posting does not disappoint.

We (Jan and I) like to take photographic vacations, or at least vacations in very photographic places.  And while we do like to catch the local wildlife and scenery, we sometimes make focused efforts for specific subject matter.  For example, on our recent Hawaiian vacation (to celebrate a milestone anniversary) we hiked 45+ minutes, round trip, in the dark (with only mobile phone lights) to see an active lava lake.  Who wouldn’t?

We also took a day trip from the Kona Coast (desert west side) on the Big Island of Hawai’i to the Kipuka Puaulu (pronounced “kee-‘poo-kah” and “poo-‘ah-oo-loo”) Trail and nature preserve on the slopes of Mauna Loa (rainy southeast-ish side) just outside the boundary of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Our goal was to photograph some of the Big Island’s feathered friends.  The circular trail is a little over a mile long and is a very easy hike if you have the time.  However, by the time we drove the 93 miles (2+ hours including 15 miles of switchbacks) to the preserve, the birds had all gone off for Kona coffee breaks.  All except for this one and a couple of friends.

Hit the jump to read more about Jan and Brad’s recent adventure!

Continue reading Guest Feature: An XXS Year…by Brad Marks