Saturday, January 3, 2015

68 hours of Hawai’i – The Big Island [Blog Series] Part 3 Adventures on Land

The third blog post in my five part series gets back to what I know best - outdoor adventure and Hawaii has plenty.  Being one of Fairmont Hotels Destination GoPro Heros and given the opportunity to film our story at Fairmont Orchid was a once in a lifetime experience.  In Part 1 of my blog series, Joel and I were introduced to luxury travel.  Part 2 took us on a cultural and historical journey that exposed us to the many different traditions, agriculture, and landscapes that make up and define the people of Hawaii. Now it is time to share the adventures we had, all 20 hours of them!  It was crazy busy, given we only had 68 hours to spend on the Big Island, but Joel and I still managed to sneak in three very different adventures that showcase the best of what Hawaii has.  First up – Adventures by Land.

Our arrival to the Big Island was at 11:30pm which was essentially torture.  It meant waiting six more hours before we could begin taking in the sights and adventures we had been planning for weeks.  Normally waking up at 5:30am is a chore but in Hawaii it was heaven.  We started off our land adventures with a morning run along the shores of the Kohala Coast.  For an hour we ran up the coast to Waima Point and back down to Malaiwa Bay.  Running on lava rock was a first for both of us and requires your attention.  Dare I say tripping hazard?  I may have taken a few trips but regardless, it was a beautiful day, gorgeous views and I had the best running partner.  A girl could get used to this paradise.

Our second land adventure of the day has us travel north along the Kohala Coast to North Kohala and the Pololu (long spear) Valley.   Hwy 270 ends where the Pololu Valley lookout begins and the view is breathtaking.  Steep cliffs with lush forests of the Kohala Coast meet the blue waters and black sand of the Kohala Coast.   

From the Pololu Valley lookout we hiked down the steep windy Awini Trail and enjoyed our first Hawaiian swim.  So refreshing and powerful.  Rough surf and strong currents are common so we stayed close to shore.  We were also aware of Portuguese man o wars (blue bottle jellyfish) that are sometimes seen in the waters.  They pack a painful sting.  Some like to add relaxation to their beach time, we like to add adrenaline to ours.  

Along the valley bottom, groves of hau and ironwood trees fill the landscape and offer a bit of shade.  After our swim we sat on the beach for a while but as I often say “Ain’t no rest for the wicked” so off we went to explore the Hawaiian forest.

Across the beach the trail heads up the cliff opposite of what we hiked down.  This would take us over the next ridge.  There are 7 major valleys that are carved along the North Kohala coast.  Unfortunately time did not permit us to explore further even though we knew there was a bench on top the cliff with more stunning views of the coastline.  At one point the trail did continue past the bench through to the next valley but the 2006 earthquake has destroyed sections of the trail but there are always die hards who seem to do the impossible.  I have found a few blogs and videos that show as recent as 2013, that you can do a 10 day hike from Pololu Valley to Waipia Valley.  Before we suffered the hot climb back up the cliff, we briefly explored further into the Pololu Valley.  Streams flow through these valleys and are prone to flash floods.  Today all was calm. 

Our last land adventure of the day was a spontaneous one.  We were racing back to Fairmont Orchid, for our luau, via the scenic Kohala Mtn. Road when we noticed a sign for the Koai’a Tree Sanctuary.  Without speaking a word, Joel turns into the parking lot and we both hop out of the Jeep and take a quick tour of this patch of forest surrounded by green pastures.  By quick I mean run, all 13 acres of it. A rough trail has been built thru the forest with numbered signs that I expect will have map and interpretive signs to accompany.  The Koai’a Tree Sanctuary represents all that is left of the native dryland forest in the area, an area that used to be over 40,000 acres large.

Domestic farmland has since taken over the hills along Kohala Mtn. Road.  It sounds odd but it is here I have the fondest memories of our day of adventuring by land.  It was here Joel and I ran thru the forest like so many times we have done before.  Different forest but same feelings of freedom and appreciation for nature, together doing what we love doing.  Because we were to film our Fairmont’s Destination Go Pro Hero story, we had many moments of setting up video opts while creating multiple videos of us running back and forth.  There were moments of silliness, moments of miss-steps, and moments of spider webs (spiders and all) unexpectedly coming into contact with my face.  You can’t recreate or plan these moments. 

Adventuring by land in Hawaii is not without its discomforts.  Stubbed toes on jagged lava rock, steep climbs in the hot afternoon sun, threat of venomous tentacles delivering a painful sting, and coming face to face with spiders…literally! But if you asked me to do it all over again, I would have it no other way.  In between these discomforts were firsts.  First lava rock beach run.  First Hawaiian swim on a black sand beach all to ourselves.  First dreams of adventures that are possible at Pololu Valley.  And first looks at what a native dry land forest can become.  8 and a half hours of adventuring by land had me head over heels in love with Hawaii.  Can adventuring by ocean and air compete with this?  Guess we will find out. 

KEEN gear used:
Joel and I both wore KEEN sandals for our hike down to Pololu Valley and our run thru the tree sanctuary.  Venice H2 & Clearwater CNX Wearing these sandals allowed for a seamless transition from hiking to swimming and back to hiking. They dry fast, protected our toes from roots and rocks and held up for our short but fun run on a rough trail.  The KEEN sandals allowed us to travel light, be spontaneous and take on a full range of outdoor pursuits without any restrictions.  
Follow your feet

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