Recent PostsPele's Process Teklanika Campground, Denali National Park, Alaska A Perfect Day in Hanalei-- Silent Auction to Benefit Malama Kauai Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP, Alaska To the Weeping Wall-- Kauai's Blue Hole Vignette of a Dream-- Lumahai Beach, Kauai My Favorite 17 from Adventures 2017 (part 2) My Favorite 17 from Adventures 2017 Good News from the Garden Island Kauai Morning, Kauai Evening
Aloha and welcome to a little blog about photography, travel, recent readings, and of course, Kauai. I hope you enjoy the observations, perspectives and images. Thanks for visiting.
Pele's Process, Big Island, Hawaii
I, like many of you, have been following closely the recent events on the Big Island. The Kilauea eruption into Leilani Estates in Puna and the subsequent ocean entries in and around Kapoho Bay show the power of Pele and impress upon us the fact that our Earth is a living planet. The devastation is incredibly sad, but at the same time Pele's alluring beauty is undeniable.
Pele, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
I have had the chance to visit Hawaii island three times since last April, and on those trips I saw the Big Island as I have seen it before, and in new ways hitherto unimaginable. In April, the lava lake at Halema'uma'u was "normal", glowing in the dark hours like I had seen it in 2016.
As Night Falls a Halo Rises, Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
Then in May, the crater began to stir as earthquakes shook Volcano village and the Puna district multiple times daily, until the lava lake sank into Kilauea's underground tubes and channels. Next, the fissures opened from underground and eruptions into Leilani Estates spewed lava high into the air; lava pools and rivers formed; evacuations, roadblocks and checkpoints dotted the map; the loss and grief; and Pele's process began anew, creating new land in a display of awesome power.
Fissure 8, Leilani Estates, Big Island, Hawaii
Lava Fountain Pools, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
A flyover Fissure 8 in Puna sees it shooting lava 220 feet high; the makings of a cinder cone along the back side of the lava fountain are apparent; as is, too, the lava river and it's ocean minded flow
I photographed this event on two occasions-- late May and again in early June. In May, I went over for just a few days. In June, I went on a one way ticket and took all my camping gear and stayed a bit longer, determined to photograph this event from a safe distance and a respectful perspective.
Fissure 8 (Modern Art), Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
On June 4th I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and knew that on tomorrow's boat ride we would not be a able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves.
Where Lava Meets Sea with White Steam, Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
A half-mile-wide lava flow reaches Kaphoho Bay and covers the reef and baths in new volcanic black rock and white steam.
At 4 am on June 5th I boarded a boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my fire one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kapoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too.
Ocean Front Fire at Kaphoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House), Big Island, Hawaii
The power of Pele and her incredible beauty have never been more visible. I hope these images give you a sense of this energy and the wonder of our ever changing planet. Respect to Pele and hope and courage to all of those affected.
Fountain and Flow, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
Pele's Design, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
The Northern Lights Dance above Teklanika Campground, Denali NP, Alaska
Good News! I was selected for a Professional Photographer's Road Permit in Denali NP so this summer I'll be spending a week at my second most favorite Denali campground-- Teklanika. 29 miles along the Park Road, Teklanika is the last campground you can drive to. But in most cases you will need a Tek Pass or a Camper bus ticket to go further into the park on one of the park buses. There's a bus stop just outside the campground and while conveniently located it was a bit busy each morning as many Tek campers were looking for the few available seats on the first buses each morning. I rode the bus from Tek to Igloo mountain and to Wonderlake. It was convenient and easy, and I felt much more a part of the Denali landscape than when I camped at Riley Creek.
The hillsides behind Teklanika River light up with the morning light.
The Teklanika river is right behind the Teklanika campground. The braided river bed is a great place to explore and look for wildlife and photo ops.
Sunset and the Braids of the Tekalanika River, Denali NP, Alaska
River Bar, Teklanika River, Denali NP, Alaska
The River bar is a great place to walk and explore. I saw a Caribou on the other side of the bank and a few other footprints of various other critters.
First Time for Everything, Teklanika River, Denali NP, Alaska
On my last night in the park I got lucky and saw the Northern Lights. I planned to wake up at 12:30 am but was too cold to fall asleep so I got out of the tent around 10pm and that's when the light show started. It was incredible! Absolutely one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I hurriedly grabbed my gear and gloves and headed to the river bed, hoping to photograph the lights and their reflections in the Tekalanika River. After about 30 minutes of photographing in the river bed-- all alone-- I became fearful that a bear might come up and eat me. So I packed up my things and returned to the campground where I set up with a few other photographers and photographed the dance from the comfort of numbers.
A Look Into the Heavens, Teklanika Campground, Denali NP, Alaska
Lastly, the Teklanika Campground has the normal campground amenities-- toilets, water spigot (froze each night and morning of my stay), concrete food pantry and gas/cooking pantry, picnic tables at each site and if I remember correctly, all of the sites were flat, gravelly and there were a good number of trees around, too. All in all a good place to camp if you have a car and want to be further inside the park than Riley or Savage. I can't wait to go back this year. 49/50 forever! (49-- Alaska/50-- Hawaii)
A Perfect Day in Hanalei, Hanalei Bay, Kauai.
20"x50" Open Edition Metal Print, wire hanger, crate, and complimentary shipping.
Silent Auction bidding opens now at $500. Bidding closes at 11:59 pm Sunday Night (4.22.18). Winning bid will be donated to Malama Kauai and will directly benefit North Shore relief efforts following the Kauai Flood of 2018.
As many of you know, during the 24 hour period from Saturday April 14th through Sunday April 15th Kauai was hit by a deluge of rainfall. Reports of 27 inches of rain in 24 hours began to filter through social media. Officially, 28 inches of rain was recorded in Hanalei. But the gauge broke-- four hours before the storm did. And rain kept on falling.
My parents were visiting from Nashville, staying in Princeville and I was with them Saturday night and Sunday. I can honestly say that I have never experienced rainfall as intense for such an extended period of time. The lightning and thunder hit and rang constantly, and sounded as if it was ripping the sky and earth right behind you. Sheets of rain fell and fell and fell. When we went to Foodland Sunday morning the Makai Course was flooding onto Ka Haku Road. And this was on a downward slope in upper Princeville! It was unlike anything I have ever seen before. And then, pictures of the flooding in Hanalei; the landslides in Wainiha; the destruction of Black Pot Beach as the Hanalei River decided to shift course a hundred yards to the left, taking a home, a couple of trucks, and a few buffalos with it as it entered the ocean.
Homes and property from Anahola to Kilauea; Hanalei to Wainiha; Haena to Ke'e; and Lawai to Koloa experienced flash floods and devastating losses. Many of our most favorite parks and public areas are closed or inaccessible due to either flooding or landslides or both. It is all so incredibly sad and it has taken me a while to process it all, but the aloha spirit of Kauai has moved thousands to volunteer in rescue and relief efforts. Our Kauai watermen on jet skies and boats hit the shores of the affected areas before the rains even stopped. Local stores and restaurants have become donation centers and pick up spots as locals volunteer their time, money and vehicles to drive supplies to staging areas at Anini Beach, Kilauea Neighborhood Center and shelters throughout the island. Hundreds have been evacuated from Wainiha via helicopter and boat this week, while others have remained at Camp Naue and are supporting one another in the spirit of Kokua and Aloha.
We are grateful to the government agencies and staff, Hawaii Red Cross, Malama Kauai, and the countless volunteers who are helping the Kauai community in a countless number of ways. And we can help, too.
Light Source will have a silent auction of the 20"x50" metal print A Perfect Day in Hanalei to benefit Malama Kauai's relief Efforts on the North Shore of Kauai. This metal print retails in my Hanapepe Gallery for $2,000. Bidding will start at $500, and bidding will close at 11:59 pm Sunday Night (Kauai time). The amount of the winning bid will be donated in it's entirety to Malama Kauai's North Shore relief efforts. I will supply the print, crate and shipping. You supply the winning bid. Deal? Deal!
If you would like to make a bid please do so in the comments section of this blog or on my Facebook page.
Mahalo nui loa!
Congratulations to R&JP whose $1,500 bid won this beautiful metal print of A Perfect Day in Hanalei. Mahalo nui loa!
Mahalo to Lava Lava Beach Club, Kauai Shores Hotel, Bayada Home Health, SimplicityHR by ALTRES and the Hanalei Rotary Club for matching donations to Malama Kauai. Thank you for making this donation even bigger! Aloha!
Campsite #14, Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP, Alaska
I will be traveling to Alaska again this July and to help prepare for the trip I have been going through photographs from my August 2016 visit to Denali. Part nostalgia and part study, going though old photographs help me determine where I want to focus my time and what animals I want to read up on. This year, I'll definitely go to Katmai NP for a week (July 17 ~ 24), but other than that, my schedule is pretty open. I may go to Denali again (if I get the photographer's permit-- definitely!), or perhaps I may go down south to Kenai Fjords NP. Or up north to Wrangell St. Elias NP, the largest national park in the US. While the itinerary is still undecided, the planning is well underway. And a large part of the planning involves Google searches on locations, parks, maps, campgrounds and images of all of the above. Since I rely heavily on these searches and the blogs of other photographers and travelers, I thought I'd put something together about two of my favorite Denali NP campgrounds: Wonder Lake and Teklanika. This post will present photographs from my 8 days camping at Wonder Lake.
Days Spent at the Reflection Pond, Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska
Wonder Lake Campground is at mile 85 of the Denali Park Road. Accessible by Camper Bus or a very long bike ride on the one road in the park. It's the closest campground to Denali, which is 26 miles away. The first couple of days that I was there the mountain was completely covered in clouds and I didn't know exactly where it was. I mean I knew it was in "that general direction over there", but I couldn't quite place it, which after seeing it feels really stupid. I tell people now that seeing The Mountain is like seeing God (whatever our personal concept of God is). How could you not know The Mountain was there?
The Mountain, from the Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska
The Wonder Lake campground has 28 sites spread out along a gentle hillside. I imagine each site has stellar Denali views and my site (#14) looked right at the mountain. There is a covered, food storage area with common picnic tables and store rooms for food and gas/stoves. This was really nice as it offered shelter during rainy days and also served as a place to meet and chat with other campers. Wonder Lake itself is about 500 yards behind the campsite. A gravel road leads to the lake, but no path or trail leads around it. To get the iconic scene of Denali reflected in Wonder Lake you have to go back to the road and walk about 5 or 7 miles towards Kantishna. I think there's actually a hill called Ansel Adams Hill where you can see the mountain in the lake. For my reflection images I chose a couple of ponds that were 2.5 miles from the campsite. I walked to these spots every morning and evening for sunrise and sunset. Mornings until late August see the sun rise earlier than the bus pickup at Wonder Lake so if you want first light on the mountain, walking or cycling is the only way. I've heard that September's daybreak affords a more leisurely start and the bus could be an option. For sunset you could take the bus and ask to be dropped off, but you would have a long wait for last light. Also, your dinner would perhaps be earlier or later than you might like.
Denali Blue, Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska
Wildlife viewing at Wonder Lake was pretty spectacular. Every day I saw a moose. Some days a beautiful cow moose and other days one or two massive Bull Moose. One night walking back from the reflection pond I saw four different moose and ran from this one:
Big Ole Moose (Denali Days), Wonder Lake area of Denali NP
He liked to munch on the vegetation in the campground and if you waited long enough it's likely that you would see him walking between the tents, towards the lake or the through the vast fields of blueberries and tundra.
The moose rut was approaching and later in August the cows and the bulls begin to share the same spaces as they look for a suitable mate. One area of the park-- well away from Wonder Lake-- was closed to foot traffic as the bulls in that area were becoming aggressive.
Critters big and small in the Wonder Lake area of Denali NP. I also saw porcupines and a wolf!
The abundant colors is what surprised me most about Denali. I guess I thought it would be just an expanse of snow, but it wasn't. Instead rich greens, reds and yellows met the eye pretty much everywhere you looked. I especially liked the grasses that grew around Wonder Lake.
Most of my time, however, was spent walking to the reflection ponds, waiting for the clouds to clear and walking back to my campsite. Here are a few more of these early mornings and late evenings:
Mt. Brooks, Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska
The Light Changes but the Clouds Don't Completely Clear
Alpen Glow on the Top of Denali, from the reflection pond near Wonder Lake, Denali NP, Alaska
Night Fall, Denali NP, Alaska
Of the three campsites where I pitched my tent in Denali NP Wonder Lake was my favorite. Teklanika Campground was my second favorite and Riley Creek Campground was a necessary stopping point at the beginning and middle, but nothing more than that. In the next post I'll share some photos from Teklanika.
A Wild Land (Weeping Wall Magic), The Weeping Wall, Mt. Waialeale, Kauai
The hike to the Weeping Wall is hard. It just is. I think all discussions should begin with this understanding. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, it is an amazing adventure full of Weeping Wall magic, but it's a difficult hike through a wild land. You have to suffer for the magic. The "trail" is through thick jungle. It leads one over, around, and under trees and mud and quagmire. You also stroll through bamboo grove and walk alongside an idyllic stream. Until you boulder hop across its rushing waters and wade into it, navigating your way to the next section of boulders or slippery footpath.
The Way to the Blue Hole Leads Through Here (Inquire Within), Waikokos Valley, Kauai
I think the above picture gives a good indication of what the hike is like-- stream, waterfalls, boulders and jungle, with Mt. Waialeale in the distance. You are going there-- towards the box canyon of Waikokos Valley where the walls of Waialeale form the Blue Hole of sky and mountain. That's what the Blue Hole is-- the sky as you look up from the base of what was once the wettest place on earth. Now, Waialeale is the 8th wettest place on the planet so the streams that you encounter on the hike can flash flood at any time. This is another reason why I say the Weeping Wall hike is so difficult. The logistics and planning necessary make it all rather involved. You must have 4WD to access the trailhead, which is at the weir at the end of loop road. If you don't have 4WD you could possibly make it to the Jurassic Gate and then walk 2 miles to the trailhead. But it's such a long hike (duration) that you would be pushing it to get out in daylight. And this is one hike that I would not want to do with headlamp. But of course, take one with you. Just in case.
Guardian Falls and Rainbow, along the hike to the Weeping Wall of Mt. Waialeale, Kauai
I made it to Guardian Falls about 4 years ago, but that time I was too tired to worried about the rain to continue on. On that occasion I broke a carbon fiber hiking stick when I slipped and fell in the jungle mud. And when I arrived at Guardian Falls grey clouds covered the mountain. I wrote about that excursion in an earlier blog entry. I think I called that one "A Slogfest to Guardian Falls."
One of my goals for the year was to safely hike to the Weeping Wall and back. I tried to go on a couple of different occasions late last year, but got rained out. And in early February we tried again, but a Flash Flood Watch stopped us again. For this hike (and probably all hikes, really) it is best to err on the side of caution. If you are above Guardian Falls when the waters rise, you ain't getting back until the waters subside. There is no place to pitch a tent. And really, very few areas of accessible higher elevation. You could easily find yourself in trouble. I have friends who had to lock arms and form a human chain to cross the rapidly rising stream-- and that was in the easier first section. We brought along a rope just in case we needed it, but luckily we had blue skies in the valley and benign clouds at the Wall.
A Long Line, nearing the Weeping Wall of Mt. Waialeale, Kauai
Once above Guardian Falls the stream becomes the trail for much of the way until you climb out onto a muddy bank. Then you are back in the jungle until you climb even further still via pre established ropes. This is where I totally lost all semblance of form and just kinda "managed my way" up and down the muddy cliff walls. The ropes made it easy, but my bag and tripod made the going rough. I never complain about the gear-- especially while I am out there-- because you can only take the pictures that your gear will allow. On this trip, I took 2 cameras and 2 lenses-- Canon 5DSR with 21mm Zeiss and a Canon 1DX II with a Canon 24-70. I also had my normal supply of Lee Filters, lens cleaner, extra batteries and Really Right Stuff Tripod. Now, if I were to do it again I would only take one camera, one lens, a much smaller tripod and a much smaller bag. Live and learn. But I can be stubborn. Oh, I almost forgot. I started the day in hiking boots, but changed into felt soled neoprene booties called tabis after about 20 minutes of hiking. The tabis provide excellent traction on the slipper rocks and are a MUST for this hike. I even tried to change out of them after descending from the Weeping Wall, but slipped in the first 10 feet and slipped and fell within the first 100 feet. While tabis provide little to no support, they do provide excellent traction. Next time, I won't even take the boots. I'll take an extra pair of tabis instead. They are that good. You can buy them at Wal Mart in Lihue or any of the fishing shops on island. Your feet will suffer (and back, too) but at least they'll give you the grip you need. (A side note-- try to scrape the mud off the felt soled bottoms each time you enter the stream in order to wash away the mud. This will help provide better traction as you boulder hop and dance your way to the next bank or exit).
Ohia Lehua Flower and Waialeale Wall, approaching the Weeping Wall of Mt. Waialeale, Kauai
The closer you get to the Weeping Wall the more the vegetation changes and the temperature drops. You begin to see Ohia trees, Lehua flowers, ferns and rarer plants endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. This is sacred land and should be respected. Hawaiian myth says that the highest Hawaiian god, Kane, was born on top of Waialeale. Kane is the creator and I felt a pulse or life source when I placed my hand on the wall of Waialeale. How much truth is contained in a myth? All? None? Likely, somewhere in-between.
First View of the Weeping Wall, Mt. Waialeale, Kauai
The above photo shows the fist glimpse of the Weeping Wall. It was taken from a highpoint on the hike, and from here it's about 45 minutes till the end. I find the landscape of the hike interesting in that the destination remains hidden until near the very end. What you think you are walking towards shifts and hides from view until you have exerted enough effort to see. I think Joseph Campbell wrote something about this in The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Those epic journeys really do make us feel like heroes.
Life Source, the Weeping Wall, Mt. Waialeale, Kauai
I placed my hands on the Weeping Wall and felt vibrations. Of course the water was flowing off the mountain, but the mana or power of the place was literally tangible. I could feel it. Waialeale is said to be the piko or navel of Kauai, but for me the mountain became the heart, pulsing with life force.
The Lightness of Being, the Weeping Wall, Waialeale, Kauai
I left the house at 6:30 AM. Arrived at the Arboretum at 7 and the trailhead at 8. We got back to the FJ at 5:30. And while it was a hard hike, it was an awesome experience. If you would like to do this hike I recommend you go with a guide. The trail is unmaintained, prone to flash flood and difficult to navigate. A guide will also be able to share the cultural significance of the place with you as you enter into the Blue Hole.
Here's a few more...
You can imagine on a day with heavy rains this football-field-long rocky slope would become a torrent of rushing water.
The various curves and undulations of the Weeping Wall and final approach.
The amphitheater of the Weeping Wall. Incidentally the Blue Hole is actually the sky as you look up and out of this natural amphitheater. When I arrived here the sky was overcast so it was more like a Gray Hole than a blue one.
One last look before I put the camera away and begin the hike back.
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© Light Source Photography by Lee Scott