Tag: nature

Hiking the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail

Hiking the

Sometimes, I get overly ambitious.  This morning and I woke up and said I wanted to go for a hike. Leave it to my boyfriend (and Hawaii local) Jonathan to take that sentiment to a whole new level and bring me to the Wa’ahila State Recreation Area to the Ridge Trail.

I knew it was going to be a somewhat difficult hike from the beginning, as to get to the trail head, we had to drive up and up Saint Louis Heights, a notoriously steep neighborhood. Tucked in the back of Ruth Street was the trail head.

Ridge

Legend has it that the Wa’ahila Ridge trail is home to the sleeping giant of Manoa, Chief Kauhi. Because of a lover’s spat between the beautiful princess Manoa, the gods eternally condemned Kauhi to spend the rest of his days contemplating aloha (grace) and pono (righteousness) along the top of Wa’ahila Ridge.

The trail is easy to follow with pink ribbons delineating your course. The entirety of the trail to the summit Mt. Olympus will take about 4 hours, but a great 2 hour (4 mile round trip) hike offers sweeping views of Honolulu.

The landscapes of Hawaii always surprise me. One minute you’re sweating as if in a desert, the next you’re in a breezy pine forest. This is where your hike begins.

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About a half-mile incline later, you’re in the middle of the valley face-to-face with some up and downhill boulder climbing. You certainly won’t need rappelling equipment, but there is some real rock climbing involved in this trail. I would never attempt this hike in the rain or right after it rains, as the ridge can be slippery and one false move will plummet you over the cliff.

Going down!
Going down!

Luckily after the boulder climbing ends, the trial evens out and twists and turns through some of the densest strawberry guava tree forests I’ve ever seen. None of the trees were fruiting at the moment, but I’ll be sure to come back when I can get my fill of those sweet tropical fruits!

Through the thicket, onward and upward
Through the thicket, onward and upward

Next you’ll be snaking your way up the mountain, taking the trail marked on the left through some more pines and visible roots. The good news is that the hardest part of the hike is over. Ready yourself for some fun and funky landscapes and amazing views.

Me and my pup Pono goofing around
Me and my pup Pono goofing around

After taking a water break and posing in this cave, it was up we went. Just a mile further will lead you to a grassy clearing where you can bask in the glory of a hard-earned view of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean.

I think I see my house! Just kidding, it's behind that crater on the left.
I think I see my house! Just kidding, it’s behind that crater on the left.

This is where we stopped, 2 miles up. You can keep trekking onward to Mt. Olympus for stunning views of the windward side. It’s so steep, you have to climb a rope to get up!

For this hike, I would definitely recommend going when it’s dry and not too rainy. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and save energy for the hike down. Boulder climbing going down isn’t always easy on the quads and knees.

O’ahu pleases once again with a hike that was challenging enough to get me out of my head and into a space to enjoy nature.

The scary ocean critters of New Jersey’s beaches

I’m reminiscing today of the time I spent living on the east coast. I essentially made it my bitch, spending every day off from the restaurant I had foraging, exploring, finding new hiking trails, beaches, hidden swim holes, you name it.

A friend came and visited me in Philadelphia for the summer and we spent our time exploring Mother Nature together, one day taking a drive out to Cape May, New Jersey for a day at the beach.

I’m currently living in Hawaii and have yet to see any scary critters or sharks that have made me refrain from getting in the water. But Jersey’s another story. It’s scary, real scary. Not only does it suck to drive there, but their beaches are loaded with the strangest, most fascinating, and in my opinion, the scariest creatures that stop me from diving in head first.

This particular afternoon, we looked around the sleepy beach town that was full of typical posh urbanites pushing around their designer children in their designer clothes. The Victorian houses were beautiful, but I was growing tired of the east coast snobbery and crowds, ready for a reclusive stretch of beach.

My friend Colleen, her boyfriend Ryland and I found Higbee Beach, the perfect little retreat for us. It’s a mile and half long stretch on the tip of Cape Island on the Delaware Bay. It’s actually a former nude beach (leave it to New Englanders to get their panties in a bunch) but the scene remains quiet, peaceful and serene.

“Now this is what I’m talking about!,” I thought when we arrived. Our own little slice of solitude.

Higbee is a bit rough and wild, though and I noticed right away that there were trees jutting out from the water. Beyond that though, it was the site of these massive horseshoe crabs washing up to shore that made me think twice about getting in the water:

Photo by author

As if these horseshoe crabs weren’t enough, (*I’ve actually attended a scientific study on the beaches of Jersey tracing their mating habits in conjunction with the full moon…fascinating, albeit weird*) soon came the HUGE jellyfish. I’ve always had a fear of jellyfish. There’s something about these though that has me singing a different tune about a dip in the ocean:

Swimming? Nope.

Depending on what beaches you frequent on Jersey’s coast, you will surely see these scary ocean critters. I know horseshoe crabs are harmless, but who wants one of those brushing up against their legs during a moment of tranquil floating? Nevermind those ethereal jellyfish. The picture does all the explaining.

Critters used to be my number one ocean fear, but living in Hawaii has taught me about respecting your body and the tides. There’s nothing like getting beat to shit by an undertow/wave combination. Alas, a new ocean fear has arisen in me! What sorts of irrational (or rational!) fears do you have about the ocean?

Photo of the Day: The Quickening

Sydney Botanic Gardens

This shot was just featured as Photo of the Day on WhyGo Travel. Check it out here: http://photos.whygo.com/2012/03/royal-botanic-gardens-sydney-australia.html