maternity photographer tampa

Ever since my first week on the island, I’ve had the Haiku Stairs, a.k.a. “Stairway to Heaven,” on my to-hike list. We finally tackled it yesterday! As with a few of my adventures, the morning started very early. We were out the door by 2:45 to beat the security guard to the start avoid a bright, hot hike. 🙂

After a couple wrong turns, we made it to the base of the stairs and started climbing. The moon was bright enough through the clouds that it wasn’t pitch black, but we brought a headlamp and flashlight just in case. The stairs have railing on both sides, which offered a little security as we ascended, though the condensation on the metal was a little unnerving. We moved cautiously. Most of the reviews I’d read said that the climb to the first platform was the hardest, and I’d have to agree with them. It was very steep most of the way, with some parts being practically vertical (was I seriously climbing a slippery ladder at 4 o’clock in the morning?!). They are also narrow, which makes it interesting when you have hikers who want to pass. We didn’t have anyone try to pass us from below, but there were hikers already heading back down as we were climbing up. There’s not room to pass on the stairs, so one group has to climb to the outside of the railing to let the other group pass. Hikers are pretty chill people, though, because nobody had to argue about who would pass and who would cling to the outside. We took our turns, and there were no missteps. We made it to the first platform, where we took a short breather with several other adventurers.

We didn’t stay long. Just enough to catch our breath and drink some water. The day’s first light was beginning to illuminate the sky as we climbed to the second platform, and by the time we got there, we saw some lovely colors. DSC_3749 But we still weren’t to the top, so we kept climbing. By the time we reached the satellite station at the end of the trail, the sun was fully up. IMG_5703 Unfortunately, we were in the clouds at our elevation. But they started to clear up enough to see below us. DSC_3785 DSC_3783 DSC_3802 IMG_5701 The box on the hill down there was the second platform. You can’t see the first platform from where we were up here. We headed back down after a bit, and when I got back to the second platform, I took some more photos at the pillbox now that there was enough light. DSC_3816 I also thought I should document what the stairs look like when you can see them. I took this shot of the first stretch as we were climbing back down it. IMG_5714 I’ve decided to split this day into two posts to limit the number of photos loading on one page. Stay tuned.

Mahalo,

Jen

Well, after a rest day on Sunday after our conquering of Olomana Trail, it was time for another hike. My destination this time was Mt. Ka’ala, the highest point on Oahu. My guide today is Sarah, who moved to the island a year ago, and is a teacher at a local middle school. She’s tackled this trail twice before, but never yet reached the top.

I’d hoped to change that, but it apparently wasn’t in the cards. This was a tough hike from the get-go. The beginning of the trail is actually a Water Department service road, like what we found hiking to Hamama Falls, only here it was paved. That did not make it easier. The incline was so steep from the start that my calves started complaining less than half a mile in! The road was about a mile (give or take), and then we got to actual trail. It was nicely shaded, and the incline leveled out for a very short time before starting up again for the entire remainder of the hike, c’mon! We moved through some macadamia nut groves and a patch of strawberry guava (very refreshing at this point). Strawberry guava The steep grade meant pretty cool views, though. DSC_3730 DSC_3739 IMG_5655 And clouds coming down the mountain. IMG_5651 But alas, I was struggling up the trail. My legs were like lead. By the time we’d reached 3,600 feet, I was moving in slow motion. Sarah was observant enough to suggest we turn back, since there might not be anything to see through the clouds anyway. Bless her. I’m stubborn enough that my kneecaps could’ve fallen off and I’d still have pulled myself by my arms rather than admit it was too much. That was a real possibility anyway, because anyone who’s had knee problems knows that it’s not climbing up that gets ya, it’s the climbing down. Looked like another dose of ice packs to the knees was in my future. We did meet a friend on the way back down. DSC_3737 I’m not sure what kind of bird this is (if anyone knows, give me a shout in the comments). It kind of looks like a pheasant, but its colors are very dull for what I picture a typical pheasant to be. Maybe it’s a female? Anyway, it walked ahead of us for a bit before deciding it didn’t like being followed and disappeared back into the brush. We made it to the car (kneecaps still attached…barely), and we headed in search of food. One of Sarah’s go-to places on her lunch breaks during the school year is Kaahaaina Cafe, which is actually part of the Waianae Comprehensive Health Center campus. Yep, the hospital cafeteria is one of her favorite eateries. And I totally understand why! First off, check out the view: IMG_5658 And their menu changes daily based on what’s caught and harvested fresh. The catch of the day yesterday was grilled ahi with a sweet chili dressing, rice, and a mixed greens salad with sprouts and a dressing made of, I assume, unicorn tears. Seriously, I got a little misty-eyed as I savored all the different flavors on my plate. My mouth is watering just looking at this picture. IMG_5659 I ordered a lava flow smoothie to go along with it, which is basically a virgin piña colada with strawberry purée. Yum!

And that was my attempt at conquering Mt. Ka’ala. Sadly, I will probably not have time to challenge it again before I leave the island (not that I’d be in any better shape to reach the top in a week). Guess it’ll have to be on the agenda next time I come to Oahu.

Mahalo,

Jen

This past Saturday, Kelsey and I tackled Olomana Trail (Three Peaks) again, this time going all the way to the third peak. It was a challenge! Getting to the first peak wasn’t too bad. I’m in better shape than I was the first time we did this hike, so getting there didn’t take us as long, and the view was as magnificent as ever. Windward Oahu Windward Oahu Getting to the second peak wasn’t too difficult, either. Not too much actual climbing involved. It wasn’t until the top of peak two moving onto peak three that the real challenge started. IMG_5616 Yes, that’s Kelsey rappelling down the side of a mountain with a rope that’s tied to a tree. I should put in a disclaimer here that several of the hikes on this blog are listed as moderate or strenuous. Meaning, if you’re not in fairly good shape (or if you’re not completely insane), then you probably should not attempt these. There were no tragic missteps on the way down the ropes, and we continued on. The ridge was narrow at some points, with sheer drop-offs along either side. We made our way carefully to the next big obstacle, which was this rock… IMG_5619 …which looks like it’s giving a thumbs-up. At first I wasn’t sure if it was an encouraging thumbs-up, or just a sarcastic one. Then I saw that we had to climb down to the left and around that rock, clinging to the side of it because there was nothing but air to catch you. So, sarcastic. In the spirit of adventure, I still managed to hold on and snap a quick photo looking up at the rock. IMG_5620 This, too, we survived, and then had more climbing to do (as you can see in the background of the picture with Kels and the “thumbs-up” rock). Eventually, we made it to the third peak, and I got a view of the first two and more of the windward side of the island. IMG_5623 IMG_5626 We rested for a bit and ate our sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly for me) while enjoying the nice breeze. Ah, we felt so accomplished! Until we realized that we had to do that entire thing again, only in reverse.

What the French toast?!
What the French toast?!

Oh, well. We made it back and I rewarded myself with ice packs on both knees and a nice peppermint-infused epsom salt foot soak, followed by a day of doing not-a-darn-thing.

By the way, Grant, I saved the scary pictures till after the hike so that you wouldn’t worry. You’re welcome. 😉

Mahalo,

Jen

Our last day in Maui (which also happened to be Grant’s birthday) was another fairly relaxed day. We slept in so that we wouldn’t be exhausted by the time we caught our flight at 11 pm. After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up the rental car and headed to ‘Iao Valley State Park. It was a pretty valley tucked between some mountains, with a view of the ‘Iao Needle. DSC_3398 DSC_3396 After the park, we headed out in search of more beaches (because that’s the thing to do on Maui)! This time, we turned to the southern part of the island, towards Wailea-Makena. We stopped at one beach for a bit before deciding to find some food a little further south at a highly recommended food truck called Jawz, near Makena State Park. Their fish tacos and quesadillas were indeed delicious, and we sat under the shade of a tree and watched and listened to the waves crash on the shore while I read a book and Grant played games on his phone. DSC_3414 DSC_3426 This particular stretch of beach faced more south than west, however, and we wanted to catch one more sunset before heading back to Oahu. So, we packed up again and set out along the highway to find a more west-facing beach. We found one tucked away among some trees and rocks. DSC_3436 Grant hadn’t yet had a chance to really explore the water, so he broke out the snorkel and mask and went for a swim. DSC_3495 He was fortunate enough to spot a sea turtle! He said it popped up less than six feet from him, and it was massive! Grant swam a bit more, then joined me where I’d staked out the best spot for the sunset. DSC_3525 It was a happy accident that we chose a beach where the sun set right behind an island, making it look almost like an erupting volcano! DSC_3540 DSC_3620 And there ends our birthday adventure in Maui. The experience was unbelievable! I’m so thankful to Kelsey and Devlin for sending us on this trip (I don’t know how I can possibly top that gift)! I’m back on Oahu now (Grant headed back to the mainland the next day), and my summer here is winding down. I have a few more hikes I haven’t done, and a special adventure a few days before I head home (I’m keeping it a secret so I don’t jinx it).

As always, mahalo for reading,

Jen

Day three of our Maui vacation started early. Like, “sometimes-I-go-to-bed-this-late” early. We set the alarm for 1:45 am. The plan? Watch the sun rise over the clouds at the summit at the Haleakala National Park. Travel time from the hotel took about two and a quarter hours, so we got there earlier than we needed to for even first light, but we were glad we did. We got a great parking spot right next to the stairs up to the observation deck, and the very dark environment made for some excellent stargazing. DSC_3204

You can see the bands of the Milky Way.
You can see the bands of the Milky Way.

Did I mention it was freezing? Elevation was 10,000 feet (and change), and the wind was blowing. We were above the clouds. Now, being from Florida, the middle of July is not a time to don long sleeves and pants. As such, what with the very little planning time, I didn’t even bring shoes that weren’t flip-flops, let alone a jacket or long-sleeved shirt. Fortunately, Grant had a pair of water shoes in the car. They were mesh, but still better than sandals. There was also a closed-in structure on the summit which was at least 15 degrees warmer than outside because the wind was blocked. We did at least get tips from reviewers beforehand that it would be cold. So we grabbed a couple of blankets from our hotel room, and boy am I glad we did! Here’s a piece of advice to anyone planning a trip to Maui, no matter what time of year: bring a jacket, long pants, and at least one pair of closed-toed shoes! Hiking boots are probably the best, but if you’re not a hiker, then…*shrug*. Layers are also a good recommendation, as it warms up fairly quickly once the sun hits the observation deck. Enough that I was able to shed my blanket(s) and walk around in my short-sleeved shirt.

Back to the photos, though. Once I saw the telltale signs of first light, I went outside the shelter of the observation deck and staked out a spot that wasn’t blocking or being blocked by someone else. I’m glad I brought my tripod, because a) it was dark, and b) I was shaking like a Jack Russell terrier on espresso. I set up my shot to a delayed shutter release, then would quickly hit the shutter button before tucking my hand safely back into the relative warmth of the blanket. It’s times like this I regret not having a remote shutter release (goes to add it to Amazon wish list). Anyway, here’s a shot of the first light preceding the sun. DSC_3214 And here’s an idea of how cold it was waiting for the sun to come up.

You can see the clouds below us!
You can see the clouds below us!

Just as the sun starts peeking above the clouds, it looks like it sets them on fire. DSC_3301 DSC_3317 DSC_3348 And here we are. Grant was very sweet and gave me his blanket before running into the observation booth away from the wind. He told me I was crazy at least 5 times. DSC_3344 Now you can really see the clouds as the sun climbs higher. DSC_3373 DSC_3375 DSC_3376 This is a view from the other side of the crater. DSC_3370 And I found this very interesting plant growing atop the summit. DSC_3378 We drove back down and made it to our hotel around 8 am, at which time we took a two hour nap before grabbing breakfast. The rest of the day was uneventful. Some reading and relaxing in our room and out on our balcony. We did go out to dinner at a restaurant across the street from our hotel. Grant was determined to try the poke, so we got some poke tacos, which were delicious! IMG_5527 That sums up day 3 of our 4-day trip. Our final day in Maui will be up shortly.

Mahalo,

Jen

Our hike got pushed back from yesterday to today. We got done early enough for me to blog about it anyway! This one was a 4.8 mile loop through Keaiwa Heiau State Park. It rained as we were driving there, which made us a little leery, but in the spirit of adventure, we were still determined to hike this thing. Three days without a proper hike was starting to wear on us both. Here I am at the beginning of the trail, with no clue as to how muddy I’m going to be by the end. IMG_5247

Yes, the rain may have made the trail muddy. DSC_2561 Very muddy. DSC_2587 But these are the things that make hiking fun. Well, that and beautiful surroundings. DSC_2592 DSC_2591 DSC_2608 DSC_2582 DSC_2560 Even the H3, one of Hawaii’s interstate highways (don’t ask me why they have interstate highways on an island), looks serene snaking through the mountains. DSC_2605

And here’s an “after” shot of my muddy adventure. IMG_5264

Until next time, Mahalo,

Jen