Helm Hawaii: Waterfalls and Rainforests

Waterfall Hawaii Akaka Falls, one of the many waterfalls we saw on our 'Waterfall Tour'.

I didn't realise how diverse Hawaii's climate was going to be, I thought it would all be sunshine and sandy beaches. Well, that's impression I got from all the travel brochures I'd collected. The reality is some what different - basically half of each island is wet and the other half is dry. Darren explains it better below, my eyes glaze over when he starts talking facts and figures. :p

Darren says:-
The islands of Hawaii were/are created by undersea volcanic activity and what we see as islands start 3.7 miles (6.1 km) deep in the Pacific Ocean and rise to 2.6 miles (4.2 km) above sea-level. The prevailing trade winds blow from the north-east bringing the rain so the eastern side of each island is cooler and wetter. The western (leeward) side is shielded by the volcanic mountainous terrain and is dryer and warmer. So, at the differing elevations you'll find micro-environments including sunny beaches, tropical rainforests, alpine regions and arid deserts.

Clouds over the Hawaiian Islands.

Still with us? On this particular 4WD (four wheel drive) tour we're travelling with a guide deep into the rainforest. We stop at our first waterfall, the surrounding vegetation is so green and lush and I take a few photographs hoping at least one will turn out (better than Darren's smile), always hard when the light is low and the water is gushing down a mountain.

We had to cross many small creeks on our trek. We're back in the 4WD and heading to the drop off point for our big walk. I now know how clothes feel in a tumble dryer! The dirt road is so full of potholes and ridges we're literally bounced into each others laps, all personal space and boundaries crossed in fits of laughter and a lot of embarrassment.

Finally we arrive and untangle ourselves, we gather around our guide and he offers us some fruit and muesli bars and a bottle of water. He reminds us anything we carry with us on our trek we have to carry back, you're not to leave any trash in the rainforest. We're also offered an umbrella, a clear plastic waterproof poncho and a stave. I take the poncho and the stave, I figure if I'm going to be clambering over logs and pushing through vegetation I'll struggle if I carry an umbrella.

Trek thought rain forest - Hawaii With my trusty stave and waterproof poncho.

Surprisingly it is raining in the rainforest, who would have guessed! Though it's lightly raining the temperature is warm, this gentle misting rain referred to as 'kilihune' in the Hawaiian language keeps us cool as we trek deeper into the rainforest.

At the start of our trek the path is well defined, but our guide has intimate knowledge of the area and soon takes us off the beaten track. We meander down an over-grown wet and muddy path, if you were to lose sight of the guide you'd easily get lost. I push overhang branches out of the way and water runs down my arms and under my poncho soaking my clothes, but I don't mind, the views are so beautiful the rain and mud don't spoil it for me, in fact they enhance the whole experience.

We passed many picturesque creeks. We passed so many picturesque creeks.

Hiking through the rainforest we see many unusual plants and vivid flowers, our guide often stops and chats telling us stories of what you could eat to survive if you got lost, even encouraging us to taste them. Then, pointing to a similar plant and warning, "Don't eat that one it's poisonous!" He points out other plants the native Hawaiian's would use for medicine to relieve ailments like ulcers, burns and rheumatic pain, there are even flowers that when eaten ease childbirth.

We pass and cross so many picturesque little streams and stunning vistas that all our photographs start looking clichéd; to the point that some went un-photographed.

Triple waterfall - Hawaii Rain-forest So many waterfalls!

We reach a larger creek and our guide suggests we remove our shoes and socks and wade across because the views on the other side are breath-taking. The water is absolutely freezing and the boulders and rocks beneath are slimy and slippery making it difficult to keep my balance. One person in our party falls over, luckily she didn't hurt herself. (No it wasn't me smile)

At this point our guide gets very serious, explaining on the other side of this dense wall of greenery is a 100 foot drop and we need to be extremely careful. Our guide leads the way, there isn't an actual path we have to push our way through the undergrowth. After a couple of minutes we emerge into a small clearing and as we were warned we're right on the edge of a cliff - and the view goes on for miles.

View from the edge of a cliff. View from the edge of a cliff

While pushing through the undergrowth one of our party loses her camera and becomes very upset, she's on her honeymoon and this is her final tour. All her photos for the last 2 weeks are on the camera and she hasn't backed them up. We all search the area where she thought she lost it but we have no luck finding it. A hard lesson to learn make sure you always back up your pictures regularly.

Each night Darren religiously backs-up both of our cameras. Often I whinge as I have 'other' plans and see backing up the cameras as a chore, but after seeing that couple so upset over all those lost memories I now hand my camera over as soon as we get back to the ship.

Small flower in the rainforest. We took a lot of photographs of flowers and plants, and a lot more waterfalls, way too many to post here you'd get bored. Whenever we get back home from travelling I always want to enlarge lots of photographs to put up on the wall so I can reminisce, but we have so many photographs and there is only so much wall you can use.

We hear plenty of birds singing and calling out to each other though we didn't actually see many - probably because we're too loud. There are 10 people in our group wandering around talking and laughing, calling out to each other whenever we see a photo-opportunity.

Another flower in the rainforest. On another tour we're flown by helicopter onto a private estate. When we land we're met by another 4WD and I'm pleased to say this time the ride is a lot smoother. Our itinerary for the day is a short hike to a swimming hole at the base of a small waterfall and then a picnic lunch at a much larger waterfall.

Our 4WD drops us off outside a cow paddock, we climbed over a fence and hike through the field desperately trying to avoid all the cow pats! Reaching the far side of the paddock we descend single file down a steep path and at the bottom there's a superb little swimming pond and a charming old wooden bench. A small waterfall fills the pool as overhanging branches drop petals into the water - totally worth hiking through a paddock covered in cow 'mines'...

Secret swimming pool - Hawaii

The Hawaiian rainforests are a photographers paradise, dappled light, flowering plants, stunning views, every way you turn is photo-worthy. Half of the 100's of photographs Darren took on our Hawaiian vacation were in the rainforests.

The final picture of a waterfall below was the backdrop to our lunch, our hosts had prepared a barbecue and fresh salads while we were out hiking.

Another waterfall Never got tired of looking at the waterfalls...

Karen as Frodo. From the moment I put on my poncho and grabbed my stave, Darren a massive Lords of the Rings fan, referred to me as Frodo or Mr Baggins. "Come on Mr Frodo, we're going on an adventure!" He thought he was hilarious, I 'll let you be the judge...

 
By Karen McGlade

 

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welcome aboard  Ahoy there! welcome aboard.

Karen

Hello, my name is Karen and I'm a cruise-a-holic. I'm married to my wonderful husband Darren and we have 3 gorgeous kids, (not that I'm biased by any stretch of the imagination).

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