Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hiking Pololū Valley

Well, as you can see this post is a few days later than I'd originally planned, for which I apologize. Upon arriving at Pololū Valley, we were greeted with this lovely panoramic view:

You really want to click on this one to see it larger.
In this picture, Pololū Valley is on the right. We're now looking back down the coast towards Waipi‘o Valley, although it's around the bend in the coast and can't be seen from here (you'll notice there are some tiny rocky islands further down the coast that couldn't be seen from the Waipiʻo Valley overlook). Here's a smaller picture that focuses on the sea end of the valley:

You can see the flank of Mauna Kea sticking out behind those sea rocks.
As we descended the trail down the cliff face, we'd occasionally get glimpses further back up the valley. I usually avoid putting myself in pictures, but I had Graham take this one:

Hark! A valley! By this time, clouds had come in and were shrouding the head of the valley.
Thankfully the path was well-shaded for most of its length by the verdant overgrowth that hugged the steep walls of the valley like some overgrown moss carpet. From a lower switchback I got this vantage point of the beach:

For some reason this picture looks “cool” to me (as in “not warm”). I think it's all the blue.
And just because I love the view along the Kohala coast so much, here's a zoomed-in picture of it:

Again, that's Mauna Kea peeking out from behind the sea-cliffs there.
I think I can count four more valleys down the coast in that picture, but I'm not sure. A little further down the trail, a great vantage point and lucky break in the clouds gave us this sight:

Looking towards the head of the valley.
Finally, after perhaps half an hour's hike, we reached the beach, made up of moderately-sized rocks further back and gray sand at the water's edge:

Pololū Valley beach. Dangerous to swim at according to the signs, but nice.
You can see the curvature of the horizon! Probably just my lens, actually.
Wandering a few dozen meters inland we found the large pond we'd seen from above. I think this connects with the ocean at high tide, so I suspect it's brackish water. The ancient Hawaiians used to catch fish and raise them in ponds, and they may have done so here.

You can clearly see the clouds hovering at the head of the valley here.

Graham, inspired by the same sight.
Back beyond the beach there was a small forest of some kind of pine tree (at least, it had needles like conifers – I don't know what kind of tree they actually were). They were scattered thinly, and it was quite pleasant to walk in their dappled shade.

Eventually we reached our goal for the day, the southern wall of the valley where the rock once again rapidly rises to tower five hundred feet or more above the valley floor. Some of the cliffs further along the coast are even higher, I believe (among the highest in the world).

From there, along the curve of the beach, we could look back up the coast, which was quite pretty:

Looking back along the beach and up the coast.

That house in the picture at the top of the cliff sits at the trail head near where I took the panorama at the beginning of this post, to give you an idea of the positioning.

All in all, it was a really great hike, and I'm glad I went. It took us a while to drive there and back, but we weren't in a big hurry and it was perfectly doable in a day. The trail in and out was really quite reasonable given the steepness of the cliff face it was descending. And the weather was pretty much as perfect as it could be. Hopefully I'll be able to make my way out there again sometime. A hui hou!

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