Monday, September 12, 2011

Destination: Ka'ena Point

After church yesterday we all threw on some shorts, filled our water bottles, grabbed the cameras, hopped into the truck, and headed out for a nice Sunday drive up the North Shore to Ka'ena point. The point is the westernmost point of the island of Oahu and is inaccessible except by 4 wheel vehicles and foot traffic.  The furthest tip of the point is a wildlife sanctuary for many native birds, plants and the Hawaiian Monk Seal. We were very excited to go.
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On this map you can see that we drove around the North Shore and past Hale'iwa, a beautiful drive, and out in to the country of Waialua.  It is much drier on this part of the island and the trees and shrubbery are much shorter with the exception of the coconut palms. The dirt is red and the land is gently rolling right up to the mountains that jut up to the cloudy sky.

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The end of the road was not the end of our journey.  It was actually the beginning of the adventure. Everyone double checked their seat belt and found something to hold onto as Dave rolled our big blue Ford F350 along the off-road trail. It was a fun bumpy ride that got everyone bouncing and giggling. The truck crawled along the formidable terrain from "B" in the above satellite map all the way to the end of the dotted line where the map cuts out. But again that is not the end of our trip!

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At the end of the off-road trail there was a walking trail so we parked and set out for a Sunday stroll along the point.  Find the last loop coming from the top right side on the dotted trail in the satellite image above and you have found where we parked.  At this spot there are some HUGE boulders blocking the way and a metal fence that you have to crawl through to follow the foot path into the Ka'ena point refuge.  We walked from that loop following the bigger loop until we came to the path that heads out to the white area inside the black rocks.  That white area is all coral beaches.  The black area is basalt rock.  The grey and green areas are sandy vegetation areas. Yes we walked ALL THE WAY TO THE END! Why not, we came this far . . . and this is what it looked like:

Afton and Cora passing through the boulders following the path through the metal fence
Another Gate.  This is the official entrance to the refuge.  They are trying to keep out invasive mice, mongoose and other animals that eat the eggs of the seabirds they are trying to protect.  Are they trying to keep out humans too? That RIP on the rock looks a bit menacing.  [These pictures are a little fuzzy because I was trying out a new filter that seemed to fuzz up my pictures instead of enhance them :(]

Lots of big cool rocks to explore along the path.

Nearing the end of the path.

A Monk Seal!! This was taken with my telephoto lens.  I took a whole bunch of pictures and only a few turned out.  It was so windy and difficult to hold the camera still with the big lens on the end.  A tripod would have been nice to have but also would have been a pain to carry on the long walk.

A second monk seal taking a nap.  It was so still and quiet I didn't even notice it.  Dave spotted him first and took the camera from me to take this picture. So Cute with his one eye slightly open.

None of my pictures do justice to the incredible size and strength of these waves.  The water was so blue and the sun so hot and the coral beach was so blindingly white.  It was a very surreal feeling: the mesmerizing roar of  every wave felt like it was going to come up and envelop us. The spray was refreshing.

We make our way to the very very tip of the point carefully leaping from rock to sharp and craggy basalt rock.  I feel like we are playing "lava monsters".  That's the game we used to play in elementary school where you step from rock to rock and can't fall on the dirt in between for fear of the lava monster.  Except here we can't fall in the space in between because there are more sharp and craggy basalt rocks waiting to twist our ankles and scratch our shins.  We made it safely. 

Along the way we found a lot of cool shells in odd places, obviously stirred up and deposited by the wild and wily waves. Kirkham especially liked this one.  I especially liked the look on his face.
 We were very hot and this is obviously not a swimming type of beach. So, the kids enjoyed climbing up onto the rocks and waiting to find out if they'd get splashed. This splash was a combination wave and blow-hole and this spot provided about 20 minutes of entertainment.

When it is finally time to go--our water bottle was near empty--the kids opted to trek up, rather than  back around, the sandy cliffs. Dave and I walked around.  Dave wanted another look at the seals and I didn't want to climb that hill (wouldn't be good for the camera--might get sand on the lens, yeah.)

The kids beat us to the top and were exploring this old whatever-it-is.  I think they were hoping it had a secret passageway like at Fort Worden in Washington.

The kids explored for a little bit and Afton begged the camera off me to take some pictures of her sister.  I thought this one looked pretty cool.

This pic not so cool but I figure you rarely get to see me because I'm generally the eye behind the camera. I don't like getting my picture taken. But this time Afton caught me resting and finishing off the water in the shaded alcove of the cement structure. I was hot and tired and Dave was talking with a lone hiker that came meandering up the trail, one of only 8 people we saw the whole time.

Another picture of me! The sun was starting to make it's way down the sky, it was nearing 5 pm, and we  had a long ways to go.  I better catch up with the rest of the gang.

The gang.  Who knows what they're talking about but it sure was cute to see them all walking shoulder to shoulder along the path pointing out a bird here, a wave there or a cool rock somewhere else. We had a fantastic day.


  1. Beautiful Pictures Dani! Your kids are great! We miss you all!!!

  2. Great pictures, Dani. Too bad about the filter not behaving for you. I must say that my favorite is the one Afton took of Cora with her looong hair whipping out behind her. It's really fun to look at, so full of color and motion, and of course cute Miss Cora. Thanks for keeping us updated on your adventures! We sure miss you guys!


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