Monday, November 24, 2014

Visiting Lake Waiau

Two weeks ago some friends from work and I took a trip to the summit of Mauna Kea to see Lake Waiau. It's been three and a half years since the last time I saw it, back in February 2011. It was interesting to go back and see my pictures from that trips, since the lake was a bit smaller back then. I've put two pictures from the two trips together below for comparison:

Lake Waiau in February 2011.

Lake Waiau in November 2014 (sorry for the poor quality, only put this up for the comparison).
Interestingly, in between these two photos, the lake pretty much dried up over the summer of 2014. I regrettably never got around to seeing it in that state, but I heard from multiple people that it was little more than a puddle. Mauna Kea got a lot of rain in the last few months, though, due to a few winter storms (and Hurricane Iselle, which dropped a lot of rain).

One thing I noticed while skimming my post from the last trip was that I mentioned the hypothesis I'd read about that Lake Waiau was fed by melting permafrost. Given how the lake dried up over the summer (coinciding with the culmination of a long period of very dry weather both for Mauna Kea and the island of Hawaiʻi), I think we can consider that hypothesis pretty much busted. Looks like it does depend on precipitation after all!

This next picture is a panorama taken from down closer to the lake. It was really peaceful when we got down there, down in the bowl of Puʻu Waiau. It was a beautiful day, blue skies, scattered high clouds, bright sun, gently rippling lake…very idyllic. The peak in the background is Puʻu Poliʻahu, which currently has no telescopes but was the site of the very first telescope on Mauna Kea all the way back in 1964, fifty years ago.

Can you spot the two tourists visible in this picture? (On top of the rim at the far right of the picture.)
I also got a picture of coworker Graham getting his own photos of the lake. I like the composition of this picture.

And a close-up picture of the lake's rippling surface just because I like it:

On the way up the mountain we stopped at the Visitor Information Station to acclimate (as you should), and I took the opportunity to visit the silversword enclosure to see how they were doing. Sometime in the interval between the last time I visited and now a bunch of new seedlings were planted, which were visible all though the enclosure. Some of the mature plants I remembered from last time had grown even larger, and looked even more amazing. Here's one, with a close-up of one of the rosettes below:

A mature silversword plant, with a whole bunch of rosettes.

Close up of one of the rosettes.
They really are amazing plants. Wish I could grow one as a houseplant, but c’est la vie. A hui hou!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

An Abundance of Lei

Well, by “abundance,” I mean “six,” because that's how many complete crochet lei I have lying around at the moment. I'm now finishing one about ever two weeks or so on average.

Some of them are fairly simple, such as the “Rosebud” one on the top right, creating a sparse appearance with the center “stem” easily visible. Others, like the “Hibiscus” one at lower left, have densely arranged petals that hide the stem. It doesn't show up well in this picture, but the two pink ones are actually slightly different shades of pink. The two orange ones used the same color, but are different patterns; the one on the top is a bit sparser than the one on the bottom, though again it doesn't show up well.

I realize, looking at this picture, that some of these lei look rather similar. This is partly because, when I first started crocheting them, I only bought a few colors of yarn that showed up in multiple patterns so I could easily reuse them. I've since bought more yarn in a wider range of colors (the red and pink lei on the bottom were both products of that trip, actually), and I'm planning on doing some with a wider variety of colors in the future. I'm working on one called “ ‘Ola‘a Beauty” at the moment which has dark purple petals and a yellow stem.

Most of the designs are really quite simple in practice, being nothing more than a simple repeated motif which is twisted around the stem to create a (mostly) radially symmetric pattern. The lei in the middle on the top, however, is a different design, and much trickier to pull off.

The book I'm using calls the flower “Mauna-loa,” and instead of radial symmetry it requires a sort of bilateral symmetry which gives it two markedly different sides.

This photo's not the greatest, but you can see how the matched sets of petals emerge on opposite sides of the stem, which itself required a novel, tricky technique to make. Instead of being a simple chain it's more like a flat ribbon, and is the source of the different look of this lei. There's another lei using the same pattern for the stem which also looks pretty interesting, and I plan to get around to it sooner or later.

Since people keep asking me what I'm going to do with all these lei, I want to mention that I've already given away the first three I made while I was visiting family this summer. I also gave away another I'd just finished to my boss, who served as the Associate Director of JCMT for the past two years on loan from the National Research Council of Canada but whose secondment ended at the end of September and had to return to Canada. I'm sure I'll find opportunities to bestow more of them in the future, too. A hui hou!