Friday, January 11, 2008

P-3 squadron in Afghanistan, Pearl Harbor, Kuliouou Hike, and Hanauma Bay snorkling

I'm sitting here in Adam's studio apartment in Kailua on the west side of the island of Oahu. We don't have air conditioning, so all the windows are open and a cool breeze is blowing through. I'm looking out the back windows at the plants growing up higher than the windows and the geckos scooting up the back wall. I just got back from the Marine base where Adam works - Kaneohe. I was getting a tour of a P-3 and Adam's squadron. P-3's are Navy reconnaissance planes originally developed to hunt for submarines, but now they are also used to support the troops hunting terrorists in Afghanistan. This is a picture of Adam's squadron in Afghanistan with a P-3. We started calling it Dirka-dirkastan (ever seen the movie "Team America"??) because when he first went on deployment there he couldn't tell anyone where he was. Maybe I'll tell some more stories about Afghanistan later on, but this post is more about our Hawai'i adventures!
Here's another one of Adam eating cookies in the hotel room I was staying in at Pearl Harbor. Yes he ate the whole bag. And he's still trim. Jealous, right? I swear the boy has a tape worm.

Here's Adam looking cute in his flight suit outside my hotel room. As I mentioned before, I was staying literally RIGHT on the submarine piers. You can see some of the warships in the background! We're not supposed to take pictures of them so I don't have anything better. The building I was staying in, Lockwood Hall, was built back in the 1930's. It's really interesting to walk around the grounds by the submarine piers because they have placards that tell you the historical significance of different buildings. Lockwood Hall has a huge indoor ballroom and an outdoor lanai party area. I loved the lanai - if you go at dusk and squint your eyes, you can just imagine a party there in the 1940's with a brass band and the dancefloor full of handsome, clean-cut sailors in their uniforms and pretty girls with coiffed hair and a-line skirts dancing and having a good time -- getting a much deserved break from the war. Maybe I'm just a romantic!

Another of our grand adventures was hiking the Kuliouou (pronounced Koo-lee-oh-oh) trail to the summit. It was a really cool hike that passes through a rainforest into a pine forest and then up onto craggy boulders that spits you out right on a cliff overlooking absolutely breathtaking 270 degree views of the ocean. It was definitely a strenuous hike though! We ascended about 2,000 feet in just an hour, after we got out of the rainforest it was pretty much a straight shot up! It had been raining for a few days, so the pictures are not as pretty as they would have been in the sunshine, but it was also not as hot as it could have been either! Which we were thankful for! You'll see how drenched we were from the pictures! Here's me at the trailhead.

And in the rainforest as the trail begins to ascend. These pictures don't do it justice at all - that's one of the disappointing things about having all these adventures is that there is no way to capture it on film!!

Here's a picture of Adam as we broke out of the rainforest into the pines. This is looking back on the valley we came from - Diamond Head and Waikiki are just on the other side of the hill on the right.

Here's what it looked like as we passed into the pine forest. You can't tell from this picutre, but the whole entire hillside was covered with a thick blanket of dead pine needles. It was like a big hairy cushion! It was kind of weird, but really fun coming back down because the paths were wide here and the footing was soft and we ran down this section of the mountain just feeling like we were flying! When this pic was taken though we were still sweating it out on the way up.

After ascending gradually through the pine forest, we came to another group of really green pines that led to a very steep climb up a muddy, slippery, hill covered in tree roots and pine needles. The footing was difficult on the way up and downright treacherous on the way down. It took twice as long to get down as it did going up it.

You can kind of get an idea of what the footing was like from the picture below where you can see the exposed tree roots and mud. Once we made it up the steep portion, we passed this strange set of trees that seemed like they were made up entirely of above-ground roots all knotted and entertwined! This tree formed a little gateway we had to walk through to get to an even steeper part of the trail leading up to the summit!

You can see how drenched Adam's shirt was by this point! This hike was pretty relentless!

Here's me passing into the open, rocky portion and getting a little taste of the view that was to come at the top.
The last and steepest part of the trail was really muddy and thank goodness there are makeshift "stairs" bolted into the ground or we wouldn't have been able to get up without a rope. Just like before, going back down was harder than the ascent. But it was totally worth it. At the top of the steps we found the summit, and the sharp cliffs where this sign is posted at the "end" of the trail. I think this sign is there because the trail actually continues on to the true summit and highest point of the Koolau mountain range, but it's too dangerous for the layperson to tackle. We did see one guy up ahead of us climbing up a rope on the next summit, but Adam and I ended our hike here!
This is a view looking off to the Southeast. You can just imagine how beautiful it would be on a clear day - the water looks turquoise even in these gray, hazy pictures.

This view is toward the Northeast, where Lanikai and Kailua are. The inlet on the edge of the right of the picture is Bellows Air Force Station where Adam and I spent Christmas.

Another towards the South. You can see how folded the mountain range is. The Hawaiian myth is that the grooves in the mountains were created when the gods pulled their canoes out of the water and up the moutains. And this is on the way back down. This picture doesn't do justice to how steep this climb was. You can see the "stairs" - just boards nailed in to catch the mud erosion. It was really slippery with all the mud.

When we made it back down - a three hour trek total - we actually went straight over to Diamond Head and did that hike! We're rockstars, what can I say?! LOL. Diamond Head is really touristy and not really a "hike" like Kuliouou, although the views from the top are worth the short, steep jaunt up it. We didn't bring the camera because it was raining and didn't want to get it wet. Maybe we'll go back before I leave and take some pictures.
Last weekend we went to Hanauma Bay to go snorkling. It was super fun. Adam had never been snorkling before. We rented equipment and headed off into the bay to see some fish. We even saw an eel!! Adam was a little freaked out by the eel haha! It was mean looking.

And that's it for now! Stay tuned for the next installment of our island adventures!!


Anonymous said...

What an amazing view! I would love to be hiking there! :)

Chris said...

Durka, Durka, Muhammed Jihad!

Great pictures!!!

DANNIELA said...

sunshine how are you doing? You are looking great how has everything going with your Thyroid Cancer going.