Saturday, February 28, 2015

High and Low on Maui, Part III

For earlier posts in this Maui travelogue, please see Part I and Part II.

Here's part three.

7am, Hosmer Grove Trail, Haleakalā National Park

Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Day 49

I woke up at 6,800 ft. above sea level for the second time. This morning I darted out of my tent just before dawn, with binoculars around my neck, to check out the Hosmer Grove Trail, which abuts the Hosmer Grove campground, all within the boundaries of Haleakalā National Park, one of two National Parks in the Hawaiian Islands.

The birding was glorious. In fact, I saw very few birds, but I heard a cacophony of songs! What I did see was the ʻiʻiwi, an small indigenous honeycreeper—famous for its red feathers that are seen on Hawaiian cloaks and helmets in museums all around the world (including in New York City!). The bird was almost hunted to extinction—and some of the feather-bearing mountain birds here are now extinct—but nā ʻiʻiwi are still hanging in there, so to see one with my very own eyes was really a treat! Nā ʻiʻiwi only live in high elevations such as these, so their habitat is very rare in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Many of the honeycreepers that haunt these woods feed on the berries, such as the ones pictured in the photograph above.

After an hour's hike it was time to drive up to the summit of the crater. At over 10,000 feet, Haleakalā, the "House of the Sun," is Maui's tallest peak, and only dwarfed by Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Island of Hawaiʻi. The National Park visitor center is just above 7,000 feet, but then the best lookout into the pit of the crater is between 9,000 and 10,000 feet.

Haleakalā's "moonscape." Looking into the crater from about 9,700 feet above sea level. The crater is three thousand feet deep and many miles wide and long. It is said that the entire island of Manhattan could fit inside. (Even the World Trade Center building, at 1,776 feet, would fit!)

 I spent some time looking into the crater, but it was hard to know what to think or feel. Almost nothing grows up here, except some silversword; and there are, I learned, a lot of insects living up here, too, but you won't see them. Also some birds pass through. But overall, the feeling one gets at 10,000 feet above the sea in Maui is one of desolation. 

 One of the big landmarks here is "Space Camp." Yeah, that's what it's called. Some kind of military-industrial-university complex that tracks things in outer space. Partly run by the University of Hawaiʻi and partly by the Department of Defense. You're not allowed to hike over there. But I took a picture of it from the summit.

Space Camp, atop Haleakalā, 10,000 feet above the ocean

 On the morning I visited the summit, it was possible to see the Island of Hawaiʻi thirty miles in the distance—or at least its two main humps, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, both over 13,000 feet tall and the highest mountains in all of Oceania.
View from Haleakalā, at 10,000 feet elevation. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are visible thirty miles in the distance.

 I like both mountains and beaches. So, after two nights on the slope of Haleakalā, I decided it was time to pitch my tent beside the ocean. This entailed a long drive. First I drove down the crater, from 10,000 feet to about 1,000 feet in, what I am told, is the most rapid elevation change of that magnitude anywhere in the world. Certainly my ears popped a few times, and of course it was easier to breathe by the sea than up in the air.

 I grabbed lunch in Haʻikū, an old sugar town that I write about in chapter seven of my dissertation. 

Then it was off to Hāna. Everyone says the drive to Hāna is amazing, and it is. It is only about 60 miles, but it takes fully two hours. Drive as fast as you want, but you'll average no more than 30 miles per hour. That's because the road twists and turns ad nauseum (thankfully, not literally), and the traffic created by tourists unfamiliar with the terrain (like myself) makes it all the more slower. In many sections, it is just a one-lane road, so you have to stop and yield and then go and then stop and yield again, ad nauseum.

About three-fourths of the way out to Hāna, I pulled off to visit Waiʻanapanapa State Park, just north of Hāna, in East Maui.

Like all Hawaiian Islands, the east (or windward) side is often lush and green, while the west (or leeward) side is dry and hot. East Maui did not fail to meet those expectations. Indeed, the wet, lush, tropical flora exceeded what I had imagined. East Maui is truly beautiful!

Waiʻanapanapa State Park, East Maui

 Napanapa means twisting and writhing and contorting, but ʻanapanapa means glistening and glimmering. I found the water to be both writhing and glistening. It was not an easy swim in the choppy waves entering the bay, but apparently there are many pools nearby where the water glistens more than it writhes. I, however, swam in the bay.

Paʻiloa Beach, Waiʻanapanapa State Park

 Paʻiloa Beach here is known as the "black sand beach." It's true, the sand is entirely dark black in color. Maybe that is interesting, or maybe not. It's certainly not as comfortable to lay on as other types of sand. But it provides something to puzzle over.

Black sand at Paʻiloa Beach, Waiʻanapanapa State Park

 After a quick swim, I was back on the road, passing through Hāna and on to the Kīpahulu segment of Haleakalā National Park. While the U.S. government does not control the land on every side of this dormant volcano, they do possess a strip of land on the eastern slope heading down to the sea. It is here, in the ahupuaʻa (district) of Kīpahulu, that a completely other side of Haleakalā National Park is revealed. 

Walking the coastal trail at Kīpahulu, Haleakalā National Park
On the coast at Kīpahulu, Haleakalā National Park

After all that driving, I arrived at Kīpahulu campground around 4pm, set up camp, and then hiked the coastal trail half a mile to ʻOheʻo Gulch. This is supposed to be a big tourist attraction. Rather, I found that it is a very popular swimming hole for local teens and families. Some tourist outfits call it the "seven sacred pools," but that apparently has no basis in Hawaiian culture. I did not find it a very attractive place for a dip, but here in the ahupuaʻa of Kīpahulu, the ocean is very rough and there are no safe places to swim in the sea, so I can see why people might come to ʻOheʻo to swim. (That said, Hāna Bay, just ten miles north—but a forty minute drive!—has good swimming.)

ʻOheʻo Gulch, Kīpahulu, Haleakalā National Park

 It was time to get a good night's rest without having to put my winter coat, winter hat, and long underwear on! Here on the beach I could fall asleep in just a t-shirt! I had my dinner of local bananas, trail mix, coconut water, and a vegan cookie, wrote in my diary and planned tomorrow's activities, and then, quickly fell asleep in my tent.
Dinner and thoughts, Kīpahulu campground, Haleakalā National Park
My camp along the sea, Kīpahulu, Haleakalā National Park

 Almost done! My next post will look more closely at the Kīpahulu section of the National Park, as well as recount my explorations of the town of Hāna. A hui hou!

Friday, February 27, 2015

High and Low on Maui, Part II

For Part I of my Maui travelogue, see my previous post.

Here's part two.

Haleakalā sunrise: above the clouds, above the ocean

Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Day 48

Day Two. My goal was to explore Lāhainā, the historic whaling port on Maui's west shore. I write about Lāhainā in the third chapter of my dissertation. It was, especially circa 1840-1860, perhaps the most important port in all of Hawaiʻi if not in all of the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of foreign ships arrived each year and recruited thousands of Hawaiian workers. A lot went on in Lāhainā in those days. It's hard to imagine, though, because it's kind of a sleepy place today. And heavily touristicized!

First of all, I had to get there. It was a 90 minute drive down from camp at 6,800 ft. to Lāhainā on the other side of the island. Upon arrival, I had a big breakfast of lox benedict (smoked salmon and eggs benedict on a bagel, with a side of homefries). Yum. After breakfast, it was off to see the historic sites:

Banyan Tree Square, Lāhainā. In the historic center of town, a tree planted in 1873 continues to grow, encompassing the entirety of the plaza! Pretty amazing.

 At the center of town is a historic plaza and abutting it, the Old Lahaina Courthouse. Built in 1859, it also served as a customs house, so all those records of ships arriving and departing, of goods coming in and out, and sailors arriving and departing: those records were produced here! The courthouse now houses a museum and gift shop.
View of the old courtroom. Note the infrastructure at foreground which faces the judge's chair. The rest of the room has been turned over to exhibits about Lāhainā's history, particularly its whaling days. Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā.
View of the harbor from the Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā

 One of the most interesting objects on display in the courthouse building is this flag that used to fly over the courthouse building during the nineteenth century. In 1898, as the United States began its military occupation of the archipelago, the flag was lowered and replaced with an American flag. Apparently it was stowed in someone's house for over a century and only in the last decade came out into public view.
Ka Hae Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian Flag. This one dates back to the nineteenth century. Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā

 Other aspects of the courthouse site are less interesting, like "ruins" that are actually a modern reconstruction of just part of a fort that once stood here in the nineteenth century. Why reconstruct the fort as faux ruins? Or the "jail" in the basement of the courthouse, which truly was a jail, but is hardly recognizable today as it is now an art gallery!

Reconstructed ruins of a nineteenth-century fort, Lāhainā

A nineteenth-century jail now used as an art gallery. Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā

A few blocks from the center of town is Maluʻuluolele Park—just a dusty field, but in the nineteenth century it was a royal fishpond that served the seat of Kingdom governance. There are plans today to turn it back into a pond and reverse the landfill of the early twentieth century.

Maluʻuluolele Park, Lāhainā

 Just up the road on Prison Street is Hale Paʻahao, literally "Prison House," a large prison complex constructed in the 1850s to deal with the scourge of drunken whale workers. Today it is a quiet peaceful park/museum, except for the scary mannequin of a Euro-American sailor inside who, in the accompanying audio track, mouths off about those "damned Kanakas." If it wasn't for those Hawaiians, he says! Then he wouldn't be in the slammer. Yeah, yeah, we've heard that one before.

Hale Paʻahao, a prison built in the 1850s in Lāhainā. The wooden part is a modern reconstruction; only the coral walls are original.

A creepy white dude behind bars at Hale Paʻahao, Lāhainā

The next stop was the Baldwin House, built circa 1835 by Euro-American Christian missionaries. 

The Baldwin House, Lāhainā
Inside the 1830s-era Baldwin House in Lāhainā
I also visited a few other historic sites: the Wo Hing Museum, a former Daoist temple and meeting house for Chinese immigrants in the early twentieth century; and the Pioneer Inn, Lāhainā's most famous downtown hotel.

 But after a while I got tired of nerding out. I love history, but it was hot and I was sweating and I would rather be swimming, honestly. So I grabbed a shave ice for lunch (very healthy, I know) and drove north out of town to Hanakaʻoʻo Beach

Hanging at Hanakaʻoʻo Beach, north of Lāhainā. Great view of the Island of Lānaʻi in the distance.

 After a swim and a brief moment of relaxation on Hanakaʻoʻo Beach, I returned to Lāhainā to catch a two-hour whale watching tour with the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation.

 Our tour was led by a fearless young woman with striking blond hair who made us laugh and smile throughout the entire journey. She really loves whales! She even migrates every year to Alaska in the summers and Hawaiʻi in the winters to follow the whale migrations.

Our fearless leader. West Maui mountains in the background. On a whaling cruise in the ʻAuʻau Channel.

 We saw tons of humpback whales, including a little baby! It was really stellar, although I got a horrible sunburn on my neck (so bad that I developed a few blisters later that night. ow!). While learning about and seeing the whales was fun and enlightening, it was also just nice to be out on the water, especially since I study Hawaiian maritime workers at such great length. It is helpful to get a sense of what it felt like to be on a boat pulling in and out of Lāhainā harbor, just as whale workers did two centuries ago!

Haleakalā, standing at over 10,000 feet elevation, peeks out from above the clouds, as seen from the ʻAuʻau Channel

West Maui Mountains, as seen from the ʻAuʻau Channel

 Upon return to Lāhainā it was 4:30pm and time to start driving back up Haleakalā to my camp at Hosmer Grove. First I stopped at Foodland and picked up a poke bowl. I returned to camp at 6,800 feet just at dusk and gobbled up my food. The temperature quickly slipped down into the 40s again. This time it was a completely clear evening and I could see thousands of stars in the sky!

 On the drive up to Hosmer Grove, I snapped a few pics of the sunset from the slopes of Haleakalā. The next post or two will be about my explorations inside Haleakalā National Park. A hui hou!

The last rays of sunlight hitting the slopes of Haleakalā at approximately 6,000 feet

 Goodnight, ka lā

Thursday, February 26, 2015

High and Low on Maui, Part I

I have just returned from a five-day / four-night camping adventure on the Island of Maui. I camped for two nights at 6,800 ft. above sea level, then two nights at sea level—mountainside and beachside. Thus I saw the highs and lows of Maui. Also the east and west. It is an island of myriad shapes and colors. I tried to capture as much of that as possible: in five days, in 152 photographs, in seven pages of journaling, and now, in multiple posts on this blog!

Here's part one.

The demi-god Maui, who caught and slowed down ka lā, the sun. Notice the large net he carries for catching that great star. As depicted at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, Puʻunene
Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Day 47

I flew into Kahului, Maui's main airport, around 9am on Friday morning. From there I picked up a rental car in Kihei and was on my way to the day's sights. Day One. Centered around the twin towns of Kahului and Wailuku in Maui's Central Valley.

The first stop was Puʻunene, a sugar town on the edge of Kahului's sprawl. I went there to visit the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. 

The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, housed in an old sugar mill manager's house, Puʻunene

I write about sugar production on Maui in the final chapter of my dissertation. (Specifically, I look at contact and conflict between Hawaiian and Chinese workers on Haiku Sugar Company lands in Haʻikū and Hamakuapoko in East Maui.) So, of course, I found the museum exhibits interesting, although it painted Maui's sugar history in very broad brush strokes, and of course glorified the families Alexander and Baldwin, the descendents of Euro-American Christian missionaries who, as the saying goes, "came to do good and did very well." In short, they traded evangelism in for capitalism.

One cool aspect of the museum is that it sits right across the street from Maui's last remaining fully-operational sugar mill! As I left the museum, I was offered a small packet of granulated cane sugar to munch upon... presumable milled right across the street. Yum!

View of a real sugar mill from the window of the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, Puʻunene

From the sugar mill I then headed into Kahului to visit the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. 

He kai o nā pua ka ʻilima, a sea of ʻilima flowers. At the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului

 What I most enjoyed about the botanical gardens was their focus on two types of plants: "indigenous" and "Polynesian introduced." Throwing aside the binary of "native" and "alien" species, the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens makes the useful distinction of a spectrum, really, of indigeneity and haole-ness (foreignness) in the floral kingdom. Polynesian peoples began introducing plants to these islands over one thousand years ago. People of European descent introduced yet other plants beginning in 1778 and continuing to this day. A strict scientific definition of "native" and "alien" would lump the Polynesian and European introductions together, but I believe there are important reasons to distinguish the two. It's also true that the plants that Polynesian peoples introduced are not "indigenous." So, a helpful distinction and a solid mission focuses the Maui Nui Botanical Garden on two classes of plants: those that existed before the first Hawaiians arrive circa 1000 C.E. (if we follow Kirch's most recent estimates for Polynesian arrival) and those that were brought to Hawaiʻi by successive waves of Polynesian voyagers between 1000 C.E. and 1778.

One such plant that Polynesians introduced to these islands was ke kukui, Hawaiʻi's official state tree. One can find kukui trees all over Hawaiʻi. The nuts contain an oil that was historically used to provide illumination; hence kukui's nickname as the "candlenut" tree. Kukui in Hawaiian also is the common word for "torch"; for example, the word for "flashlight" is ke kukui paʻa lima, the kukui that you hold in your hands! Kukui also generally means "nut": all kinds of nuts. Kukui nut necklaces are a prized item at gift shops around the archipelago. So, this is a special tree. Neither "indigenous" nor "alien" but somewhere in between, it's just one of the fascinating Polynesian-introduced plants on display at the botanical gardens.

Holding the kukui fruit, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului
Look! Ka ʻiliahi, sandalwood. Subject of chapter one of my dissertation. Seen at the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului

70 different varieties of kalo! Hawaiʻi's most important plant. Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului
 Ke kō, sugar. Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului
Showing how plants are used to build a hale. The more botanical gardens can do to show that plants are used, and not just pretty to look at, the better. Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului

 And then, before grabbing lunch I made one more stop. On the edge of Kahului Bay, I paid a visit to Halekiʻi Heiau and Pihanakalani Heiau on a small hill overlooking a stream that drains the West Maui mountains into Kahului Bay. These heiau (temples) date back to at least the eighteenth century, if not earlier. As you can see in the photograph below, the intervening centuries have not been kind to these heaiu. They stand, seemingly forgotten, high above suburban sprawl. When I visited on a beautiful Friday morning, I was the only one up on the hill. 

Halekiʻi Heiau / Pihanakalani Heaiu, Kahului

 It was not clear to me where Halekiʻi is in contrast to Pihanakalani. I noticed another stone structure on the other side of the hill, almost completely overgrown with grass and bushes. Perhaps that is Pihanakalani?

 If it looks like just a bunch of stones, look again. This was a major religious and ceremonial temple complex on Maui. Halekiʻi means "house of kiʻi" (tiki). This heiau would have been covered with wooden kiʻi statues as well as other structures, all of which were destroyed probably sometime in the early nineteenth century. All that remains are the stone foundations.

Pihanakalani translates as "gathering of supernatural beings." These were important places. (And still are. Note my discussion in an earlier post about why heiau are "temples" and not "ruins.")

I then spent the afternoon in Wailuku, a nearby town, but with a much more old-fashioned feel and sway to it. I grabbed a poke bowl for lunch at a Japanese market, and then began wandering around looking at historic structures.

First stop was the Bailey House Museum. Built in 1833 out of coral, lava rock, and wood (or some sort of combination like that), it was home to prominent Euro-American Christian missionaries in the 1830s and 1840s, as well as housing their school for Native Hawaiian girls (the companion to Lahainaluna, the famous Christian school for Native Hawaiian boys). 

A cluttered interior, nineteenth-century style, at the Bailey House Museum, Wailuku. The gray spots on the walls are where the cut coral is exposed. 
View of the exterior of the 1833 Bailey House in Wailuku

 Next door to the Bailey House is an 1836 home built by another missionary, Richard Armstrong. I just happened to recently meet one of his great-great-great-grandchildren in Mānoa! So I took some photos to send to her. 

An 1836 house built by Christian missionary Richard Armstrong in Wailuku

Wailuku has a strange New England-y feel to it, no doubt thanks to those missionaries who all hailed from there and built up this town in the image of their upbringing. The town has a very pre-sugar feel to it (the era from 1830s to 1860s, specifically). Around the corner from the missionaries' homes is Kaʻahumanu Church. It doesn't get more New England-y than this. The image below could be mistaken for a photograph of New Hampshire!

Kaʻahumanu Church, built in 1876, Wailuku

 By then it was late afternoon and I had one more stop to make before finding a place to camp for the night. The drive from Wailuku into the ʻIao Valley is only a few miles but soon one is in very remote, beautiful mountain scenery. This is the best place to get a feel for the largely inaccessible West Maui mountains. 
Obligatory photograph of the ʻIao needle, over 2,000 feet above sea level. Maui's most famous phallic landmark!

 By then it was 4pm and I had to make camp for the night. I stopped at Foodland (the major grocery store around these parts) and picked up some tako poke (octopus), lomi salmon, and edamame. Yum. Then I drove out to Olowalu, on the shore south of the West Maui mountains, which would have been my camp for the night, but they were all booked! No vacancy. So, I had to make a quick decision. Where would I camp? I decided to put the pedal to the metal and drive up to Hosmer Grove, a National Parks Service campground at 6,800 feet elevation on the slopes of Haleakalā (House of the Sun), East Maui's great dormant volcano! It took me one and a half hours to drive up there in beating rain and fog, but I made it. Set up camp and had my dinner by flashlight in the rain.
 Camp at 6,800 feet. Hosmer Grove, Haleakalā National Park

Dinner! Lomi salmon (left), tako poke (right), and edamame, poke style (back).

My seafood dinner at 6,800 feet above the ocean made me think about the ahupuaʻa—the land division system in place prior to circa 1850 that sliced the islands like a pie, so that each slice went from the top of the mountains outward to the edges of the sea. There is nothing weird about me bringing seafood up to seven thousand feet in the skies for dinner, I reasoned, because the "ecological coherence" of the ahupuaʻa, to use Marshall Sahlins' phrase, includes all these resources from the uplands to the lowlands to the sea. Not that this octopus and salmon were from this sea... but you get what I mean. 

Anyway, it was a good meal! And, with the temperature dipping quickly into the low 40s, I was soon fast asleep, in my sleeping bag, in my winter coat, wearing my winter hat and my long underwear. All bundled up, safe and sound from the driving wind and rain.

That concludes part one of my Maui adventure. More to come!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

On the Edge of Oʻahu

Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Days 42-46

On this long three-day weekend, I did three hikes in three days: Saturday biked to the trailhead and hiked up the summit of Lēʻahi (Diamond Head); Sunday biked to the trailhead and hiked up to Mānoa Falls; Monday went roadtripping with friends to Kaʻena Point, on the edge of Oʻahu.

Here are some photos and thoughts from the latter two adventures:

Mānoa Falls

Trickle-down ecologics, Mānoa Falls

Mānoa Falls was one of those must-hike hikes, one that everyone and their mother does on a weekend morning. (In fact, when I hiked up there around 7:30am I was one of only maybe 4 or 5 people on the mountain. When I came down an hour later, though, there must have been 30-40 folks on the trail heading up. It pays to wake up early!)

The trail itself was pleasing: quiet, lush, trembling with bird song. Not too many interesting views, because the canopy is thick and the trail winding.

A view from the trail to Mānoa Falls
The falls themselves were thin and trickling. It did not compare at all, say, to Kaaterskill Falls in upstate New York, one of the best waterfalls in North America. For one thing, Mānoa is only about 100 feet high, while Kaaterskill is over 200 feet. Also, even on the driest summer day there is more water coming over Kaaterskill Falls than, on this day, over Mānoa. After a bit of solitude, two hikers joined me at the base of the falls. One said to the other, "I wonder where that water is coming from?" I laughed under my breath. From the clouds. From the rain. From the Koʻolau Mountains above us. How could one wonder about something like that? Then again, what is more magical and fantastical than not knowing, and allowing our imaginations to go wild considering all the unknowns up there above the falls?
Kaʻena Point
I had been to Kaʻena Point before, from the Waiʻanae side. Kaʻena point is the very NW edge of Oʻahu, about as close as one can get to Kauaʻi without swimming or hopping on an airplane! When I visited Kaʻena in 2013 it was summer, and the landscape was very barren. This time in winter, the landscape appeared altogether different. And if you only remember one thing about Kaʻena Point, remember this: go in winter! All the wildlife is here in winter, not in summer!

First we visited Waimea Beach on the north shore. In winter, Waimea (meaning "reddish water," presumably because upland streams wash down eroded reddish soil and deposit it here?) is world-famous for its humongous waves. They can get to 30 feet high or so. Today they were about 12 feet high, but still, this was enough that the lifeguards had to make stern announcements every half hour warning that anyone without proper surfing / bodysurfing equipment would not be allowed to even dip their feet into the water. And so we sat on the beach and watched the experts.

Waimea Beach, North Shore of Oʻahu

 Twelve-foot waves at Waimea Beach, North Shore of Oʻahu
We left the beach in late morning and then ate delicious fish tacos in the town of Haleʻiwa. I had been to Waimea before, to visit Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau, the largest surviving heiau (temple) on Oʻahu. We did not stop there this time.

From there we drove to Kaʻena Point. In 2013 I had approached Kaʻena from the Waiʻanae Coast. This time we were approaching from the North Shore. 

Looking up at the Waiʻanae Mountains, Kaʻena Point Trail
One of the charms of Kaʻena Point is the preservation of indigenous flora: we saw ka ʻilima, ka naupaka, and other native plants that, throughout much of Oʻahu, have been crowded out by invasive species over the past two-hundred-some years.

Pua ka ʻilima, the flower of the ʻilima. One of the subjects I write about in my dissertation, a guano laborer working abroad in the 1860s, wrote of the ʻilima as a plant that reminded him of home and brought him joy in an otherwise barren landscape.

Ka naupaka a me ka moana, naupaka and the ocean. My brother got me a book about the naupaka a few years ago, and this was the first time I saw it in nature, so that was exciting.
 Beyond the native flora, the true pleasure of a hike at Kaʻena was getting to see so much native wildlife. We saw the trifecta of littoral nature: seabirds, whales, and seals. 

ka mōlī, Laysan Albatross, Kaʻena Point

ka mōlī, Laysan Albatross, Kaʻena Point
It was too difficult to adequately do justice to the sight of the whales and seals. So, no photographs. But they were there, and they were beautiful.

Interpretive sign at Kaʻena Point, in English and Hawaiian
And there were people, too, at Kaʻena Point, lest we think that this is a place preserved only for non-human creatures. Certainly there are restrictions on the commons: it is illegal to harvest the plants or hunt the creatures, avian and mammalian, that are protected by law. (I honestly can't say which are protected and which are not, although the charismatic fauna are obviously protected.) These are not cut-and-dry issues, though, as evidenced by a stirring New York Times Magazine piece two years ago about human conflict over monk seals management in Hawaiʻi.

But there is a commons. I saw at least one man fishing at Kaʻena. We need to ensure, in light of the historical and ongoing dispossession and marginalization of Native Hawaiians, that there is space here on Oʻahu not just for indigenous flora and fauna but also for indigenous peoples. And not just here on the edge of Oʻahu, but a commons that sweeps from one end of the island to the other.

Man and commons: fishing at Kaʻena Point

Man and commons: fishing at Kaʻena Point