Hawaii – Week 3

Wednesday 6 June – Kailua-Kona
For three days at Pu’ueo farm in the verdant Waipio Valley, we weeded patches of taro – a traditional Hawaiian foodstuff – soaked by occasional squalls, helped re-engineer a small dam, and cleared encroaching weeds from a waterway. When the work was done, we swam in waterfall-fed rivers and we lived off the land, learning to husk coconuts, trap and cook prawns and sample the fruits of our taro labors. The food tasted all the more sweet given the steep hike in and out via a serpentine road hugging the valley walls.

Headed back to the Kohala coast after a laundry run, and resupply in the North Kohala town of Hawi, we enjoyed an evening of music at Mahukona County Park, followed by a day of snorkeling at Mahukona, Lapakahi State Historical Park, and Spencer Beach Park.

With clear weather in forecast, we drove up the saddle road between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, ascending the worlds tallest mountain to the visitors’ center at 9200’ elevation. From there, we did some light hiking to take in the views and reflect on our three weeks exploring Hawaii Island from Ridge top to reef; Mauka to Makai. Later that day, we swung through Kailua-Kona for some souvenir shopping.

No trip to Hawaii is complete without experiencing the sport invented here and Tuesday found us capping off the trip by learning to surf in Kailua-Kona.

After deep-cleaning our vehicles, we traveled to Hilo for our final evening in Hawaii. Our experiences on this expedition were made so much richer and deeper by the help we received from two people in particular. Christian Giardina and Ingrid Dockersmith opened their home and their island to us, putting us in contact with transformative individuals and seldom-accessed environments. We spent a reflective evening at their home once again, showing our gratitude, laughing, and recounting the events of the last three weeks and what we will bring back to our homes in the San Juan’s and the wider world.

Up before first light this morning, we begin our journey home via Kailua-Kona, Maui, SeaTac, Gig Harbor, and Anacortes.

Aloha, Hawaii Island. Mahalo nui loa.

Itinerary update: we are endeavoring to make the ferries arriving 1:15 pm Thursday on Lopez Island and 3:45 pm in Friday Harbor.

Hawaii Week 2

Thursday – May 31, 2018 – Waipio Bound
A quick update as we descend into remote Waipio Valley to work with Pueo Taro Farm for the next two days. Our second week on Hawaii Island saw our group visiting the Place of Refuge at Honaunau Bay, exploring coral reefs and relaxing on white San beeches at Hapuna State Park, and spending three days exploring the cloud forest at Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, 6400’ up the slopes of Mauna Kea. The refuge is closed to the public and we were grateful to get access to some of the last remaining forest of this type We met with researchers growing and planting critically endangered plants and even caught glimpses of some of Hawaii’s endangered song birds.

Itinerary update: We will be spending the evenings of May 31 and June 1 in Waipio Valley but will be shifting back to the drier side of the island, staying at Mahukona County Park on June 2 and Spencer Beach Park June 3 and 4.

Hawaii week 1

Thursday, May 24, 2018 – Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Tropical Dry Forest Preserve

Our first week has been absolutely packed with activities related to natural resource restoration work. At Laupahoehoe, we learned about a disease facing Hawaii’s culturally important Ohi’a trees called “Rapid Ohi’a Death” and the steps US Forest Service workers are taking to prevent its spread. We then helped weed an experimental Ohi’a tree nursery. We stayed in the spacious cabins and cooked in the mess hall at Kalopa State Park, an arboretum with fantastic hiking trails.

After a rainy night at Laupahoehoe Beach Park, we migrated over to the Kohala coast to dry out, camping at Spencer Beach Park where we explored the nearby reefs, the adjacent Heiau (Hawaiian temple), and generally enjoyed life on a sunny and sandy beach.

Heading south to Kawa Bay, we assisted managers of an Ahupu’a’a (a traditional land division) in protecting native plantings and digging out the feeder spring for a fish impound pond. Our hosts introduced us to their vision for this district, as well as a variety of edible fruits and an extremely spicy type of pepper. That night we camped on the beach below the cliffs at Hookena and awoke in the morning to spinner dolphins cruising the bay outside of our tent doors. We spent the morning snorkelling the reefs at Hookena before heading north to do some much needed laundry and resupply in Kailua-Kona.

We arrived at the dormant volcanic cinder cone called Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a on the slopes of Hualalai where some of the last tropical dry forest on earth are being preserved and restored. Staying in the spacious, seventies-chic “Lake House,” we traversed the cattle pastures interspersed with green houses and restoration gardens to climb the Pu’u (cinder cone). Our guides helped us reach an intimate familiarity with some of the native plants being reintroduced into the forest at the summit. Back down in the forest reserve, we helped Forest Service personnel plant a dozen different species of endangered grasses, shrubs, and trees, many of which are extinct in the wild and exist only in the Ahupu’a’a of Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a.

In all, it’s been a week of deep learning though rare access to unique corners of this remarkably diverse island and its wonderful and welcoming residents!

Biocultural Forest Conservation

Thursday, May 17 – Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest, Laupahoehoe Unit

After leaving Hilo Wednesday evening, we camped at Kalopa State Park, 2000 ft up the slopes of Mauna Loa. Today, we met up with US Forest Service Ecologist Dr. Christian Giardina who gave us a brief introduction to Biocultural Conservation Practices. This resource management philosophy seeks to find common ground and shared wisdom among traditional Hawaiian stewardship methods and western science-based approaches. Christian lead us up into the Laupahoehoe unit of the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest where he introduced us to some of the largest Ohia trees in the archipelago. To cross into the forest, we learned and sang an “Oli,” a chant that conveys gratitude and gives an opportunity to pause and reflect before entering special places. Over a breezy and sunny trail-side lunch, we talked climate change and the characteristics of the HETF that help us understand how the forest of the future will be different.

After a beautiful hike down the forest trail, surrounded by plant species found nowhere else on earth, Holly treated everyone to popsicles in the hot afternoon sun. Now it’s back up the mountain to our highland campsites at Kalopa SP.

Aloha from Hilo

May 15 –
After arriving in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island Tuesday afternoon, our day was only just beginning. We picked up our rental vehicles, bought our first weeks worth of groceries, ate dinner and picked up our final group member at the airport. After a final, 1.5 hr push, we made it to Hilo where we were greeted with leis by our hosts, Christian and Ingrid! Exhausted, we all crawled into our sleeping bags at 1030 for some well earned rest.

On our way!

And we’re off! We flew out of SeaTac this morning. A big “thank you” to the Hagmann family for last night’s spacious sleeping accommodations and hearty meals in their Gig Harbor wilderness medical training facility!

Kilauea Eruptions — Updates

Hello Hawaii travelers and families,

A quick update on the eruption from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory:


"Eruption of lava and gas continues at a low level along Kīlauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone within the Leilani Estates subdivision. Overnight, active emission of lava and spatter at multiple fissures was minimal. This is likely only a pause in activity; additional outbreaks or a resumption of activity are anticipated as seismicity continues in the area. Deflationary tilt at the summit of the volcano continues and the lava lake level continues to drop. There is no active lava in the Puʻu ʻŌʻō area. Aftershocks from Friday’s magnitude-6.9 earthquake continue and more should be expected, with larger aftershocks potentially producing rockfalls and associated ash clouds above Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Halemaʻumaʻu crater. Seismicity at Kīlauea’s summit remains elevated."

According to the Hawaii Board of Tourism:

"As news of volcanic activity taking place in East Hawai‘i continues to make headlines around the world, it is important that travelers headed to the island of Hawai‘i understand that there is absolutely no reason at this time to change or alter your leisure or business plans."


What this means for our trip:

Our itinerary has us undertaking a three day/two night overnight backpack trip in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which remains partially open as of this writing. However, as the situation remains fluid, we’ve secured lodging at Laupahoehoe Beach and Spencer Beach Parks (well away from the affected area) to which we will divert if conditions change and we are unable to visit HVNP. We will make a final decision once in the field, based on information provided by Hawaii Civil Defense, National Parks Service, and US Geological Survey.

Given the recent inflammatory headlines, we understand you may have concerns. Please do not hesitate to talk to us if you have questions.

Tim and Holly

On Fri, May 4, 2018 at 1:36 PM, Holly Durham <hdurham> wrote:

Hello Hawaii Travellers and Families,

I wanted to update you all on the current eruptions of Kilauea Volcano in the Puna district of Hawaii. Kilauea, home of Pele the volcano goddess, has been erupting continuously since 1983 but current lava flows in the Leilani Estates in the eastern tip of the island are forcing the evacuation of residents and the closure of areas of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

None of our itinerary overlaps with the currently closed areas. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will make changes to our itinerary if necessary. We are receiving minute to minute updates from both civil defense services and the USGS. Local agencies have an extremely well-developed monitoring network and all area closures maintain a wide perimeter around any dangerous volcanic gases. We also monitor the VOG (dangerous volcanic fogs) alert network and are ready to change our activities in response to any warnings. We also have contacts in Hawaii who are keeping us updated.

There are several links below for further updates and information.




We will keep you posted with any changes to our itinerary. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

It truly is amazing to watch the creation of new land on planet earth. How auspicious for our travels! Living Earth in Action.

All the best!

Holly and Tim

Holly Durham-GuckianResidential Life

Fitness and Wellnesses/kilauea/status.html
Spring Street International School

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