nature

Seeing Two Octopi at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Yesterday was epic! Kyle and I got our second chance to head over to Hanauma Bay in Oahu to go snorkeling. We had previously heard that there were octopuses in the water, but I was pretty skeptical about getting to see one, considering their camouflage abilities to hide in plain site and their speed and intelligence levels. Also we had visited before while Geoff was with us, and didn’t see any.

Octopus cyaneabig blue octopus, day octopus

By Brocken Inaglory – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7933738

But we got lucky! About 5 minutes into the first snorkeling sessions, I saw a little floating red sea creature hanging out at the edge of the reef, kind of circling a big reef rock. As soon as it saw me, it floated to the top of the big isolated rock, clung onto it, and began to descend into its vertical lair hidden in the rock. It hid and camouflaged with the surrounding cauliflower coral until I could only see a wary eye peering out from the small cave. About a minute later, the Cephalopod had completely disappeared into its den to hide.

We continued to snorkel through the Bay and went out much further than the previous session; going beyond the buoys with the advice of the people working at the preserves advice to stay in sight.

About 15 minutes later, I spotted another day Octopus! Very similar to the first; but it seemed to be a bit more curious and tolerant of Kyle and myself; we had a really hard time looking away! In similar fashion to the first little guy we say (about 2 feet in size including tentacles) he eventually clung to a rock, crept into a very small vertical hole and hid itself from our vision. While it hid, it changed colors and grew horns, changing into an extra replica of the surrounding reef structures.

Kyle and I continued to explore the bay, but there was a definite sense of accomplishment and wonder; we had seen one of the coolest and most intelligent marine animals that exists (in my opinion). It was a similar feeling to seeing grizzlies foraging on the mountainside in Yellowstone park.

We continued to roam the edges of the reefs and explore underwater caves and cool coral structures and species that were thriving in the Bay’s protected environment. I would go back again in a heartbeat! Highly recommend if you ever visit Oahu, definitely a major highlight of the last two weeks in Hawaii.

Enjoy Raw Footage from Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay

Seeing Two Octopi at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Read More »

Hawai’i’s Colorful History

Hawaii is a land of historically epic beauty. It is a timeless land.in Prehistory, the nature in Hawaii was completely untouched by humans and only lost birds and plants inhabited the island chain. Hawaii is a very young cluster of islands with a very short terrestrial history; the oldest islands were formed five to six million years ago and is unusual because it is a hotspot far away from the tectonic plate boundary (~2,000 miles away). Hawaii is the world’s youngest island chain!

The early history of the settlement of the Hawaiian Islands is relatively unknown, but by combining myth, logic, and the current scientific analyses we can get a good idea of how the island populations evolved and migrated and also how plant and animals species developed and assimilated alongside humans. Hawaii’s modern identity is a reflection of this unique, layered, and multifaceted history. Shaped by colonization and assimilation into the Western European cultures and the United States, Hawaii is a unique blend of native and invasive species, and layers of settlement of Polynesians, westerners, and labor forces from around the world.

Polynesian Mythology of Hawaii

The Polynesian’s have a rich mythology surrounding the formation and settlement of the islands of Hawaii, but it is important to note that these myths evolved over time and were heavily influenced by the arrival of Christianity in the 18th century. The history of the evolution of Hawaii is truly fascinating, matched only by their mythological evolution. Hawaiians have a pantheon of gods and goddesses, but the some of major deities are Kane, Kanaloa, Lono, Ku, Maui, and Pele. Hawaiian mythology also focused heavily on mana, or the interconnection between all beings and the natural world, similar to the concept of a ‘holy spirit’.

Kane Tiki Statue

The primary creation myth involves Kane Milohai is the god of creation. Kane is associated with the sun, fresh water, agriculture, forests, and procreation. His origin story is part of the best known creation myth, the Kumulipo chant, where the primordial first beings known as the Po’ele emerged from darkness to create other beings and gods; the world was created gradually, starting with the most basic of organisms and moved onto more complexity with insects, animals, birds, and eventually humans. In the myth, Kane and Kamala descended from the heavens to create and this led to the separation between the Earth and the sky or Papa and Wakea. It represents the division between the divine masculine and feminine and the creation of fertile ground where life could flourish. Kane is not only the creator god, but represents Hawaiian values, especially fertility.

Maui Depiction

Another creation myth involves Maui, known for his strength and supernatural abilities. One day, Maui set out on a fishing expedition with his brothers. They cast their lines into the ocean, but Maui’s line, baited with a sacred bird, got caught on something unimaginably massive beneath the water. As Maui and his brothers struggled to reel in their catch, it became apparent that they had hooked the land itself. With his incredible strength, Maui transformed into a giant and exerted all his power to pull up the land from the ocean depths. The land rose out of the water, and as Maui’s efforts continued, the individual Hawaiian Islands began to take shape. As the islands emerged, Maui used his knowledge of the natural world to shape and mold them, creating the mountains, valleys, and lush landscapes that make up the Hawaiian archipelago. He also shaped the rivers and waterways, ensuring that life could flourish on the newly formed islands.

Pele

A final example of the beautiful Hawaiian cultural myth is the story of Pele, who is said to have created the Hawaiian Islands. Halemaʻumaʻu in the Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii is where she is known to reside and is the goddess of volcanos and fire. Many Hawaiians believe that there is a family of gods that inhabit Kilauea and Pele is one of the sisters that controls the flow of lava. Legend told that Pele herself journeyed on her canoe from the island of Tahiti to Hawaiʻi. When on her journey to Hawaii from Tahiti, it was said she tried to create her fires on different islands, but her sister, Nāmaka, was chasing her, wanting to put an end to her. In the end, the two sisters fought each other and Pele was killed. With this happening, her body was destroyed but her spirit lives in Halemaʻumaʻu on Kilauea. They say, “Her body is the lava and steam that comes from the volcano. She can also change form, appearing as a white dog, old woman, or beautiful young woman.”

The gods each had specific roles in the creation and maintenance of the world. Lono was one of the original gods of the universe and was known as the god of music, peace, and agriculture and would bring rain during the 4 month rainy season which was also a season of peace for Hawaiians. Ku was a feather god that demanded human sacrifice and represented war, politics, and sorcery. Kanaloa is a squid or octopus goddess that complimented Kane and was considered the counter-opposite to the creator-sun god, representing shadow, underworld, magic, and the ocean.

Menehune,

In myth, the Polynesian’s were not the first islanders. The Menehune are a mythical race of dwarves, or little people, that were believed to be responsible for many of the various ancient structures on Hawaii. While the Menehune are generally considered benevolent beings, they are also known for their mischievous behavior. According to legends, the Menehune live in remote and hidden areas of the Hawaiian Islands, such as deep in the forests or in secluded valleys. These secretive locations are believed to be the reason why they are rarely seen by humans. They are said to play tricks on humans, sometimes helping them and at other times causing disruptions, sometimes shooting arrows to cause people to fall in love. The Menehune are renowned for their skill in construction and craftsmanship and are said to have built various structures, such as fishponds, temples, and houses, that were considered too advanced for the time. These feats of engineering have often been attributed to the Menehune’s supernatural abilities. There is ongoing debate among scholars about the origin and authenticity of the Menehune legends. Some believe that the Menehune are purely mythical, while others suggest they might be based on stories of indigenous peoples who inhabited the islands before the arrival of Polynesians.

600 year old petroglyphs on Maui

Unrecorded Histories of Hawaii

The first people known to have settle Hawaii were Polynesian, likely from the Marquesas Islands which were colonized by Polynesians around 800 AD. Islanders from Tahiti then arrived in Hawaii in a second wave, about 200 years later. The Kapu system was thus developed in a strict social hierarchy in Hawaiian society. At the top were the ali’i (nobility), followed by the kahuna (priests), maka’ainana (commoners), and kauwa (outcasts or slaves). Each group had specific rules and obligations, and there was little mobility between classes.

With them, polynesian settlers brought coconuts, bananas, taro, sweet potato, and breadfruit. They also brought and raised pigs, chicken, dogs, and the pacific rat.

Archaeologists believe that the settlers began arriving on the southern end of the big island of Hawaii and travelled northwards to colonize the rest of the islands. It is estimated that before European settlers arrived, there was close to a million inhabitants of the islands.

Hawaiian Villages

A typical Hawaiian city included many buildings:

  • Heiau, temple to the gods
  • Hale aliʻi, the house of the chief
  • Hale pahu, the house of the sacred hula instruments
  • Hale papaʻa, the house of royal storage
  • Hale ulana, the house of the weaver
  • Hale mua, the men’s eating house
  • Hale ʻaina, the women’s eating house
  • Hale waʻa, the house of the canoe
  • Hale lawaiʻa, the house of fishing
  • Hale noho, the living house
  • Imu, the communal earth oven

The Hawaiians believed that the earth belonged to the gods; one does not own land. However, the Ali’i were managers of the land; when chiefs would die, dwellings and lands would change hands between managers.

The Kapu System

“Ancient Hawaiʻi was a caste society developed from Polynesians.” A Tahitian priest named Pā‘ao is said to have brought a new order to the islands around 1200. The new order included new laws and a new social structure that separated the people into classes. The aliʻi nui was the king, with his ʻaha kuhina just below them; the makaʻāinana (commoners) next with the kauā below them as the lowest ranking social caste.

There were several classes in the Kapu caste system:

  • the Ali’i
  • Kahuna
  • Maka’ainana
  • Kauwa

The rigidity of the kapu system might have come from a second wave of migrations in 1000–1300 from which different religions and systems were shared between Hawaiʻi and the Society Islands. Hawaiʻi would have been influenced by the Tahitian chiefs, the kapu system would have become stricter, and the social structure would have changed. Human sacrifice would have become a part of their new religious observance, and the aliʻi would have gained more power over the counsel of experts on the islands.

Ali’i were the traditional nobility of the Hawaiian Islands that were organized in a feudal way. There were eleven classes of Ali’i including ruling chiefs, prominent kahunas, advisors, and priests. Aliʻi nui were supreme ruling chiefs of the main islands, but there were several other types of chiefs with specific taboos.

The Kahuna was a wise person, or shaman, but the term really means a subject matter expert. Forty types of kahuna are listed in the book Tales from the Night Rainbow, including Hula Kahunas (hula dances included storytelling), Kahuna La’au Lapa’au (doctors and healers), and Kahuna Kilo (prophets).

The Maka’ainana were simply commoners and were subject to the taboos and rules of the Ali’i.

The Kauwa was a broad and demeaning term to describe the class of slaves, outcasts, and servants to the Ali’i. (I’ve previously written a long and extensive article of the negative aspects of the Hindu caste system, which you might find interesting.)

Hawaii-History6
Cook depicted in a Nathaniel Dance-Hollandportrait, c. 1775

The Arrival of James Cook and Historical Records

Hawaii was isolated from the rest of the world for over 500 years until James Cook arrived from Britain in 1778. Cook arrived in Kaua’i in Waimea, Hawaii in 1778 and named the group of islands the sandwich islands, after the earl of sandwich (for whom sandwich were also named). Cook continued to travel around North America, then returned to the islands to restock his supplies.

in January 1779 Cook anchored in Kealakekua Bay after about 8 weeks of circling the islands; during Makahiki, the Hawaiian new year and harvest festival devoted to the god Lono. Coincidentally the form of Cook’s ship, HMS Resolution, or more particularly the mast formation, sails and rigging, resembled certain significant artifacts that formed part of the season of worship.[4][62]

Similarly, Cook’s clockwise route around the island of Hawaii before making landfall resembled the processions that took place in a clockwise direction around the island during the Lono festivals. It has been argued (most extensively by Marshall Sahlins) that such coincidences were the reasons for Cook’s (and to a limited extent, his crew’s) initial deification by some Hawaiians who treated Cook as an incarnation of Lono.[63]

After a month of exploiting his status as a deity, Cook left the Hawaiian islands only to have foremast broken. He returned to the islands to a tense atmosphere of questioning Hawaiians after a crew member of the HMS Resolution died; obviously the Hawaiians questioned how a deity could die. Cook also stole wood from a burial site. In the night of February 13th, an unknown group of Hawaiians stole one of the two longboats of the Resolution. The Hawaiians had become “insolent” so Cook’s obvious response was to kidnap and ransom the King of Hawaii, Kalaniʻōpuʻu.

On 14 February 1779, Cook marched through the village to retrieve the king. Cook took the king (aliʻi nui) by his own hand and led him away. One of Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s favourite wives, Kanekapolei, and two chiefs approached the group as they were heading to the boats. They pleaded with the king not to go. An old kahuna (priest), chanting rapidly while holding out a coconut, attempted to distract Cook and his men as a large crowd began to form at the shore. At this point, the king began to understand that Cook was his enemy.[66][failed verification] As Cook turned his back to help launch the boats, he was struck on the head by the villagers and then stabbed to death as he fell on his face in the surf.[67] He was first struck on the head with a club by a chief named Kalaimanokahoʻowaha or Kanaʻina (namesake of Charles Kana’ina) and then stabbed by one of the king’s attendants, Nuaa.[68][69] The Hawaiians carried his body away towards the back of the town, still visible to the ship through their spyglass. Four marines, Corporal James Thomas, Private Theophilus Hinks, Private Thomas Fatchett and Private John Allen, were also killed and two others were wounded in the confrontation.[68][70]

King Kamehameha I and the Birth of the Kingdom of Hawaii

Kamehameha was raised in the royal Hawaiian court and was given the prominent religious position as guardian of the Hawaiian god of war. He rose to higher prominence from several religious rituals and gained the support of 5 Kona chieftains and two uncles who bypassed the throne for their nephews, Kamehameha and Kīwalaʻō (who was to be the next great chief). Kīwalaʻō’s half brother received no land nor title and took out his rage on Kamehameha. The Battle of Mokuʻōhai ensued in 1782; the battleground was just to the south of Kealakekua Bay during which Kīwalaʻō was knocked down by a sling stone, and the injured Kameʻeiamoku was able to slit his throat with a shark-tooth dagger. Kamahameha recovered Kīwalaʻō feather cloak giving Kamehameha religious, political, and divine authority in the eyes of Hawaiians. This is known as a key turning point in Hawaii’s history and marks the beginning of the unification of the islands.

In 1790 Kamehameha’s army invaded Maui with the assistance of John Young and Isaac Davis. Using cannons from the Fair American, they defeated Maui’s army led by Kalanikūpule at the bloody Battle of Kepaniwai while the aliʻi Kahekili II was on Oahu.

Keōua Kūʻahuʻula, who came to rule the districts of Kaʻū and Puna, took advantage of Kamehameha’s absence in Maui and began raiding the west coast of Hawaii. He also advanced against the district of Hilo, deposing his uncle Keawemaʻuhili.[28][26] When Kamehameha returned, Keōua escaped to the Kīlauea volcano, which erupted. Many warriors died from the poisonous gas emitted from the volcano.

When the Puʻukoholā Heiau was completed in 1791, Kamehameha invited Keōua to meet with him. Keōua may have been dispirited by his recent losses. He may have mutilated himself before landing so as to render himself an inappropriate sacrificial victim. As he stepped on shore, one of Kamehameha’s chiefs threw a spear at him. By some accounts, he dodged it but was then cut down by musket fire. Caught by surprise, Keōua’s bodyguards were killed. With Keōua dead, and his supporters captured or slain, Kamehameha became King of Hawaiʻi island.[29]

In 1791, Kahekili and his brother Kāʻeokūlani reconquered Maui and also acquired cannons. In April or May 1791, Kahekili tried to invade the island of Hawaiʻi, but was defeated in a naval battle called Kepuwahaʻulaʻula near Waipiʻo. Kamehameha had to wait for the civil war that broke out in 1793 after the death of Kahekili to finally win control of Maui.[27]

In summer 1795, Kamehameha set sail with an armada of 960 war canoes and 10,000 soldiers. He quickly secured the lightly defended islands of Maui and Molokaʻi at the Battle of Kawela and later Oahu.

The Battle of Nuʻuanu was a fierce and brutal conflict, with warriors on both sides using traditional Hawaiian weapons like spears and clubs, along with firearms and cannons acquired from European contacts. The turning point of the battle occurred when Kamehameha’s forces managed to drive the Oahu warriors to the edge of the cliff. With nowhere to escape, many of the Oahu warriors either jumped off the cliffs to their deaths or were pushed off by Kamehameha’s warriors.

In the spring of 1796, he attempted to continue with his forces to Kauaʻi but he lost many of his canoes in the strong winds and rough seas of the Kaʻieʻie Waho channel. He returned to Hawaii to pacify the rebellion of Nāmakehā (brother of Kaʻiana) in Hilo and ruled from Hawaii for the next six years as he consolidated his conquests and prepare for a second invasion of Kauaʻi.[32] At Hilo, Kamehameha I commissioned the building a large fleet of 800 (according to Kamakau) double-hulled war canoes called peleleu along with Western schooners, and he also stockpile large number of guns, canons and ammunition. He took his peleleu to Maui where he stayed from 1802 to 1803 and then to Oʻahu in late 1803 or early 1804. While in Oʻahu, a large percentage of his force was killed by the maʻi ʻokuʻu epidemic, which was thought to be either cholera or bubonic plague. Kamehameha I contracted the illness but survived. The second invasion of Kauaʻi was postponed.

In April 1810, Kamehameha I negotiated the peaceful unification of the islands with Kauaʻi. He also created a unified legal system and collected taxes to promote trade with Europe and the United States.

After about 1812, Kamehameha returned from Oahu and spent the last years of his life at Kamakahonu, a compound he built in Kailua-Kona.[38][39]

When Kamehameha died on May 8 or 14, 1819,[41][42][43] his body was hidden by his trusted friends, Hoapili and Hoʻolulu, in the ancient custom called hūnākele (literally, “to hide in secret”). The mana, or power of a person, was considered to be sacred. As per the ancient custom, his body was buried in a hidden location because of his mana. His final resting place remains unknown. And yes, Goku’s signature energy attack is named after the Hawaiian king because the creator, Akira Toriyama’s wife suggested it.

Kamehameha I was succeeded by his son, Kamehameha II (Liholiho). Liholiho’s reign was relatively short, marked by his involvement in the abolition of traditional Hawaiian religious practices in favor of Christianity, a decision influenced by the influence of Christian missionaries.

After Kamehameha II’s death in 1824, his younger brother, Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli), ascended the throne. Kamehameha III’s reign was characterized by the formalization of Hawaii’s legal system, the issuance of the Hawaiian Constitution of 1840, and continued efforts to modernize the kingdom’s government and economy.

Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho) succeeded Kamehameha III in 1855. His reign saw further attempts at modernization and political reforms. He also established the Queen’s Medical Center, a prominent medical institution in Hawaii.

Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa) took the throne in 1863 and is known for his strong and somewhat autocratic rule. He attempted to strengthen the monarchy’s power, although some of his proposed constitutional reforms were not enacted during his lifetime.

After Kamehameha V’s death, King Lunalilo was elected as king by the Hawaiian legislature in 1873. His reign was brief, as he died in 1874 without naming an heir. David Kalākaua, who was elected by the Hawaiian legislature, succeeded Lunalilo. Kalākaua’s reign was marked by the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1875, which allowed Hawaiian sugar to be exported to the U.S. duty-free. Kalākaua’s sister, Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him in 1891 as the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. Her reign was marked by political tensions and efforts to regain some of the monarchy’s authority that had been eroded over time.

Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy

The monarchy’s power had been steadily diminishing due to foreign influence, economic interests, and internal political struggles. In 1893, Liliʻuokalani’s attempt to promulgate a new constitution and regain power led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by a group of American and European businessmen and diplomats, with the support of U.S. troops.

Foreign influence dominated the islands because of interests in the islands fertility and ability to produce agriculture. Sugar cane had been introduced to the islands by the Polynesians; European and American merchants established sugar plantations taking advantage of the native Hawaiian workforce and the fertility of the islands. The Kamehameha dynasty was also intrinsic in developing the sugar plantations to promote trade development.

The combination of the growth of christianity and the sugar cane industry led foreign interests to dominate the Hawaiian economy.

On January 20, 1887, the United States began leasing Pearl Harbor. Shortly after, the Hawaiian Patriotic League began the revolution of 1887; they drafted a constitution that greatly lessened the powers of the Hawaiian monarchy and forced the chief, Kalākaua to sign it. In July 1889, there was a small scale rebellion, and Minister Merrill landed Marines to protect Americans; the State Department explicitly approved his action. Kalākaua died in San Francisco on January 20th, 1891.

Liliʻuokalani assumed the throne in the middle of an economic crisis. Her proposed 1893 Constitution would have extended suffrage by reducing some property requirements. It would have disenfranchised many non-citizen Europeans and Americans. The Queen toured several islands on horseback, talking to the people about her ideas and receiving overwhelming support, including a lengthy petition in support of a new constitution. However, when the Queen informed her cabinet of her plans, they withheld their support, uncomfortable with what they expected her opponent’s likely response to be.[153]

Liliʻuokalani’s attempt to promulgate a new constitution on January 14, 1893, was the precipitating event leading to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii three days later.[154] The conspirators’ stated goals were to depose the queen, overthrow the monarchy, and seek Hawaii’s annexation to the U.S.[155][156] The conspirators were five American, one English and one German national.[157]

The overthrow began on January 17, 1893. While the queen was on house arrest, a military coup took over the capital and intimidate royalist defenders, even though a shot wasn’t fired. This was the effective end of the monarchy.

Between 1893 and 1898 annexation became an increasingly popular idea.

In March 1897, William McKinley, a Republican expansionist, succeeded Democrat Grover Cleveland as U.S. president. He prepared a treaty of annexation but it lacked the needed 2/3 majority in the Senate given Democratic opposition.

McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution annexing Hawaii on July 7, 1898, creating the Territory of Hawaii. On 22 February 1900 the Hawaiian Organic Act established a territorial government. Annexation opponents held that this was illegal, claiming the Queen was the only legitimate ruler. McKinley appointed Sanford B. Dole as territorial governor. The territorial legislature convened for the first time on February 20, 1901. Hawaiians formed the Hawaiian Independent Party, under the leadership of Robert Wilcox, Hawaii’s first congressional delegate.

Sugarcane plantations by this time had grown so large and powerful that the owners dominated the industry of Hawaii and were known as “the big five”. During the Democratic Revolution of 1954, the unions inflicted a decisive blow against the giants, and when the sugar industry declined after Hawaii became a state in 1959, so did each of the Big Five companies. There was also intense competition from overseas, leading to the decline of the Hawaiian sugar industry. The last sugar plantation closed in 2016, ending the sugarcane industry in Hawaii.

The Evolution of Ecology in Hawaii

Born among volcanoes in the north central Pacific about 4 million years ago, the Hawaiian rainforest became assembled from spores of algae, fungi, lichens, bryophytes, ferns and from seeds of about 275 flowering plants that over the millennia evolved into ca. 1000 endemic species. There was a time before human existence on the islands, when only birds and flora lived on the island due to dispersal or migratory patterns over the ocean.

The isolation of the islands resulted in Adaptive Radiation, meaning that a single ancestor gave birds to multitudes of species adapted to the various microclimates and ecologies of the islands. This led to an incredible number of unique species on the islands, also known as endemism.

The Polynesians were the first to introduce various agricultural species and brought with them the first invasive and non-native species present on the islands today. The later European explorers compounded this issue with disease and the introduction of more non-native and invasive species. Only recently have conservation efforts been made to preserve native species and remove invasive ones.

Major Invasive species in Hawaii

Miconia
  • Miconia (Miconia calvescens): Miconia is a highly invasive plant species in Hawaii. It forms dense thickets that outcompete native vegetation and disrupt the natural ecosystem.
  • Coqui Frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui): The coqui frog is a small, nocturnal frog that is native to Puerto Rico but has become invasive in Hawaii. Its loud calls have caused noise pollution and ecological disruption.
  • Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata): This invasive ant species has a painful sting and can negatively impact native insect populations. It is a significant nuisance for residents and threatens agriculture.
  • Kahili Ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum): Kahili ginger is an invasive plant that has spread throughout Hawaiian forests. It displaces native species and changes the structure of forest ecosystems.
  • Yellow Ginger (Hedychium flavescens): Yellow ginger, another invasive ginger species, is known for its rapid spread in Hawaii. It can outcompete native plants and alter the composition of natural habitats.
  • Australian Tree Fern (Sphaeropteris cooperi): This invasive fern species can form dense thickets and compete with native vegetation in Hawaii’s forests and understory.
  • Africanized Honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata): This aggressive strain of honeybee is considered invasive in Hawaii and has had an impact on local bee populations.
  • Christmas Berry (Schinus terebinthifolius): Christmas berry is a small tree with invasive tendencies. It has invaded a variety of habitats in Hawaii, including forests and coastal areas.
  • Feral Pigs (Sus scrofa): Feral pigs are a significant invasive species in Hawaii. They damage native ecosystems by rooting in the soil, uprooting plants, and spreading invasive seeds.
  • Axis Deer (Axis axis): Axis deer were introduced to Hawaii for hunting purposes. They have become invasive and cause damage to agriculture and natural habitats.
  • Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleianum): Strawberry guava is an invasive plant that forms dense thickets, outcompeting native vegetation.
  • Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer): This invasive bird species has established itself in Hawaii, affecting native bird populations and agricultural crops.
  • Invasive Algae (e.g., Gracilaria salicornia and Acanthophora spicifera): Various invasive algae species have proliferated in Hawaii’s coral reefs, impacting native marine life and altering reef ecosystems.

Major Native species Endemic to Hawaii

Hawaiian Goose

Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi): The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the world’s most endangered seal species. It is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and faces threats from human disturbance, entanglement in marine debris, and habitat loss.

Hawaiian Nēnē (Branta sandvicensis): The nēnē, or Hawaiian goose, is the world’s rarest goose and is endemic to Hawaii. It faces threats from habitat destruction, predation, and collisions with vehicles.

Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis): The ʻalalā, or Hawaiian crow, is critically endangered and is extinct in the wild. Conservation efforts aim to reintroduce captive-bred birds into their native habitat on the Big Island.

Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus): This endemic bat species is threatened by habitat destruction and disturbances, particularly in its roosting sites.

Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis): The Hawaiian petrel is a seabird that faces threats from introduced predators and habitat degradation, particularly in its nesting areas.

Hawaiian tree snail

Hawaiian Tree Snails (Achatinella spp.): Many species of Hawaiian tree snails are critically endangered or extinct due to habitat loss, invasive predators, and disease.

Hawaiian Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense): Silverswords are a group of plants endemic to Hawaii. Several species are endangered due to habitat destruction and damage caused by introduced herbivores.

Puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri): The puaiohi is a critically endangered thrush endemic to Kauai. It is threatened by habitat destruction and invasive species.

‘Ohi’a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha): a species of flowering evergreen tree in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, that is endemic to the six largest islands of Hawaiʻi. It is a member of the diverse Metrosideros genus, which are widespread over the southwest Pacific. It is the state tree of Hawai‘i.[4]

Manfern (Cibotium): a genus of 11 species of tropical tree ferns

False staghorn fern (Dicranopteris linearis): one of the most widely distributed ferns of the wet Old Worldtropics and adjacent regions, including Polynesia and the Pacific.[3]

References
  1. Earth@home.org – the Geologic History of Hawaii
  2. Wikipedia.org – History of Hawaii
  3. bg.copernicus.org – Origin of Hawaiian Rainforest
  4. TheSupernaturalFoxSisters.com – The Mysterious Menehune of Hawaii
  5. Punahou Buletin – Kamahameha I
  6. Chat GPT

Hawai’i’s Colorful History Read More »

Getting into Rock Climbing in 2022

I’ve always loved the mountains. I also can’t get enough of a good view. There is something so majestic and regal about being on a snowy peak with weather happening all around, or on some giant mountain watching the clouds and the winds move. I grew up skiing in Lake Tahoe and fell in love with the cold and snow through those childhood memories of being at the summit of squaw in a blizzard and waking up at 6 to get to the ski area at about 7:30. I have very vivid memories of racing my littlest sister down the mountain.

Climbing seems to be the other half of all of those downhill sports. It is very difficult. Bouldering is especially challenging for me because it forces me to maintain core tension and that requires being thinner. Luckily, I practice lots of yoga so losing weight isn’t a huge deal, but it also forces a fairly strict diet to maintain a high ratio of strength to weight.

Sugar Loaf

Check out this fun video I made of a climb that Ronnie invited me to out in Sugar Loaf along 50 towards South Lake Tahoe.

This winter I have some goals. The first is to lose a bunch of weight. I don’t weigh myself on a scale, so its definitely more of a certain level feeling good. Climbing is obviously much easier when you weigh less.

I am also looking to get into avalanche training and awareness in the high mountains. That means spending some time up in Alaska or Canada. I’d also really like to get that first time of ice climbing in. Being an avid skier, I also will want to learn some back country skiing techniques, but for now I am content to try to be as safe as possible in the level of difficulty that I am in. Tahoe is obviously going to be a great place to learn things this winter; the snowfall is epic right now. I can’t wait to get back into woods that look like the picture to the right.

I took the photo that’s below at the Quarry Trail in Auburn a couple of weeks ago.

Learning Technique at Pipeworks

This year I have been thrilled to start climbing almost daily, a few friends got me going and I’ve been enjoying all the different kinds of climbing on rock. I am loving every second of sports climbing and have led some pretty fun routes, even a 5.10! Its a very difficult sport but about a year in I am starting to feel my fingers develop more strength and my arms are getting used to holding my weight when I am upside down. Bouldering has gotten to be kind of a passion of mine.

The gym I go to is in Sacramento, so normally I just go after work. It makes for a nice way to destress after doing a lot of manual labor. Climbing has totally changed up my workout routines and yoga as well. Ashtanga becomes a lot more useful when climbing because you can create the body tension necessary to do dynamic moves.

There are a few super important muscles used for climbing, mostly in the forearms, but also in the shoulders, core, legs and hips. The digitorum profundus is specifically very useful to strengthen for the grip strength necessary for climbing. That’s why hang boards are so popular, this one muscle group can get extremely strong!

It’s also crazy how important footwork becomes for higher levels of climbing. So I’ve been putting together strength workouts to get back into the best shape that I can to climb some big mountains.

This past year, I did some fun stuff. I got out to Shasta, Cody, Yellowstone, Hiked up Mount Whitney, spend 3 days in Yosemite in the Buena Vista Crest, and got up to Tahoe a lot to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from hiking this year, there are most definitely some good ones in there!

The American River

Mount Whitney

Yellowstone

Emerald Pools

Yosemite

Same photo zoomed out

Getting into Rock Climbing in 2022 Read More »

Elliot's Backpacking Trip through Yellowstone National Park

10 Days and 9 Nights Journeying through Yellowstone National Park’s Back Country

Elliot’s Yellowstone Adventure Overview

When I first arrived in Cody, Wyoming I was hoping that I would be able to spend about a week in Yellowstone National Park backpacking through the wilderness. I did some research before on bear safety and precautions and had spent a good amount of time and money gearing up and preparing.

The idea was to start learning how to cope with snow while camping. Also to have my longest backpacking adventure yet. Though I didn’t get the mild snowy weather I was hoping for, I did get quite a challenging adventure logistically and mentally.

Every night was very different, ranging from anxiety about bear activity, to lack of sleep due to Elk and Moose trumpeting, to sleeping soundly in Yellowstone’s very fun and beautiful campgrounds of which the Madison area was my favorite.

Another big goal was to see lots of wildlife while staying safe. Yellowstone has the highest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 United States (Alaska has more) and I am a large animal enthusiast. It turned out to be a great time and I really started to get the hang of being out there about 5 days into the adventure.

The second day in Cody, I made a friend named Josh, who I met at Sunlight Sports on the Main Street Sheridan Avenue. Josh is becoming a really good climber and we got another chance to climb after this and also went bouldering with some local dudes that were super talented on the local bouldering routes up on Cedar Mountain. We went sports climbing a day later and I asked him if he could give me a ride to the park for some gas money. He agreed, so I found a small storage unit and put all of the climbing gear and things that I didn’t think that I would need backing into it. Tuesday morning I headed into the park with Josh as my driver.

I later sent a 5.10c on lead and am super psyched on it even though I topped out like a beached whale cause my arms had literally no strength left in them at the top.

Part 1 – Acclimatizing to Living in Nature

Day 1 – Into the park and the Yellowstone Lake Backwoods

can you see the grizzly bear’s shoulder hump in the photo?

Josh dropped me off at about 9am at the East Entrance to Yellowstone State Park. I paid the $20 for personal entry to the park and started walking. The first day was spent mostly hoofing it alongside the road. Yellowstone isn’t exactly the most pedestrian friendly place in the world and focuses far more on road maintenance than keeping up its trails. However, this setup does allow for easy and effectively managed wildlife viewing, so I definitely have mixed feelings about it. I saw my first Grizzly bear about 3 hours into the first day, at about 11:30am whilst walking along the road. A photographer up ahead of me had a massive camera and we chatted for about 30 minutes about the bear’s activity. The photographer was full of useful information and had followed the bear the previous season, as well as earlier in the week. It was a very interesting beginning to a very long day.

Sylvan River Sulfur Spring

After 15 miles or so of hiking it along the road and having people waving at me from both directions, I left the road from the East Entrance. At about 3:30 (plenty of daylight to get to the lake, or so I thought…) I followed the Sylvan River down into the back country where I enjoyed the nature far more than the vehicles (many of them were RVs). I found this fascinating sulfur spring pouring into the river and decided to pump my water far upstream from it, where the water was much clearer. I wasn’t and still am not sure if my filter would be effective against such a smelly and toxic looking thermophile deposit, but it seemed to do fine with the trace amounts that must have been in the river. I continued down stream, leaving the river at points because the back country travel was so difficult. I was bush-whacking over large and stacked pine trees and began to see lots of animal sign, scat and tracks. I knew to make noise and avoid being smelled and I had all of my bear equipment at the ready, but I still became very fearful of animal activity and interest in me as the day progressed. I really felt that an animal might get curious and approach me. But the sun was going down the horizon and it was getting super cold. I setup my pack and bear canister far away from my site and waited to cook until the following day to stay hidden from the bear’s incredible sense of smell. Additionally, the sulfur deposits leeching into the river would protect against something smelling me or my pack. I settled down into the hardest night of sleep while in the park, worried that a bear might smell and/or interested in my campsite.

Sunrise of Day 2

I had a hard time sleeping that night, but my dreams were incredible. It probably took me 1-3 hours to get to sleep each night and this was for sure the longest it took me whilst in the park. My first dream was about a bear attacking me, jumping on my back while I was in my tent. Surprisingly, this put me at ease, allowing me to find some peace with where I was and the situation. I let go. The night passed and I awoke to a hard frost, but no signs of animal activity near me. I had made the mistake of leaving all of my sweaty clothing out (away from my tent) and it had all frozen over. Next time I would keep my wet clothes in my tent to avoid that situation happening again. I waited for the sun to rise above the ridge-line of the valley that I had slept in and warmed up with my gloves and some backpacker’s pantry oatmeal for breakfast as well as the Instant Coffee I bought from Pour Choice in Auburn, CA for this exact adventure.

Day 2 – Getting to Yellowstone Lake and Hitching my First Ride

The morning of the first was by far the hardest hiking I had to do. Two miles took me two hours and it took 5 to get to the lake. I attempted to follow the Sylvan river, but it was extremely slow going due to the downed trees, most likely from the flooding earlier in the season. Luckily my trekking poles came in very handy to effectively help me to cross over many of the larger stacked trees, but I still had to find my way through the maze. Sometimes I had to literally go backwards a bunch and find a new path forward. It took all morning and just a bit of the afternoon to reach the lake, which I had planned on staying at the first night.

My first view of the lake was spectacular, both in feeling and beauty. My stress levels diminished quite rapidly as I soaked my worn out feet in the lake, which were being gradually destroyed by my new Arc’teryx Acrux mountaineering boots that were not yet broken in. And I realized I had forgotten my favorite shoes, my Choco’s sandals, in my temporary storage unit back in Cody. I swam a bit in the icy cold water and then continued barefoot up to the road, where there was signage and all kinds of warning about bear activity in the area. I knew I was pretty lucky not to have encountered any wildlife other than squirrels and birds so far so I decided to recuperate and plan the next part of my trip outside of the lake area that I had originally planned to stay in for the duration of my backpacking trip to Yellowstone.

I hiked up to Sedge Bay and Steamboat Point picnic areas and met a really friendly Canadian couple who were traveling through the park with their car (like a normal person would). I asked for a ride and they graciously offered to bring me north, to Canyon Junction where they were staying at the expensive and beautiful Canyon Lodge.

We traveled for a few hours and roamed around the park, seeing Bison, checking out geysers, and learning about the conservation efforts of the park. I pretty much just went along with whatever they wanted to do, happy to not be alone in back country any longer. All the time we spent seeing the sights, I was wondering where I would stay the following night. At this point I learned that its really not allowed to just stay in the back country (even though I had previously signed up for a back country permit) and that you were supposed to stay in specific campgrounds throughout the park. But due to the off-season closures, I had a terribly hard time finding rangers to give me advice or any sort of guideance.

Once we arrived at Canyon Village, I talked to the very nice, however uninformative receptionist at the hotel, who explained that only one campground was really still open (actually there were two) and that it was on the Western end of the park, the Madison campgrounds. I was wary of staying in the back country for another night and didn’t have any idea of how I could get there, especially at the late hour that it was, around 6 o’clock. When I’m backpacking I definitely prefer to have my tent setup before dark. And Canyon Village had campgrounds, although they were closed for the season, even though the weather was still very agreeable. I got a hot plate for dinner, rice and chicken and veggies and then followed the Canyon Village road to the closed campground area.

I decided to stay just off the campgrounds in the forest around some trees that looked very healthy. I slept really well that night, but the dreams were still extremely vivid. And I could hear wolves and coyotes howling that night, which made for some interesting thoughts. Overall one of my good nights overall, getting to have a hot meal and feeling safe my camping area.

Day 3 – The Wild Greeble Lake

I woke up on the third day to the cold. The mornings were definitely a big temperature difference from the nights, so I would layer up in the mornings and then take off clothes as I started to sweat, doing my best to avoid moisture buildup in any of the layers.

I had studied a back country path out to the Cascade and Greeble Lake area so I got on the road early to find the trail. I got to the trailhead and began towards the lake, an easy hike for about 3 miles. Once I got there, the views were magnificent; this was the type of camping and backpacking that I had been looking for in the park. I passed a back country campground that allowed for fires and started to get super psyched to spend the night out there. I met three hikers along the trail and we chatted a bit about bear safety, they seemed to be very interested in my larger backpack so I was happy to chat and tell them about what I was doing out there.

I found an open site on Greeble Lake (some were closed due to wildlife activity) and setup my tent. It was only about 4pm so I went for a swim in the icy lake and got a fire going, cooked some dinner (actually my least favorite meal, New England corn chowder) and dried off some of my clothes, still wet from the first night’s hard frost.

Greeble Lake Fog

Pretty much as soon as the Sun went down, I heard loud trumpeting right next to my tent. And then swimming. The elk were for sure going out into the lake to swim and several of them were calling for mates. It was actually quite symphonic, they were beautifully calling out in the night and the moon was pretty full so I’m sure those elk were having the time of their lives out in the lake. Partially through the night, I heard a more distinctly large and deep animal trumpeting sound, that was more chaotic and louder. I’m pretty sure this was a moose, cause it came back to an area near my tent and started making tons of noise. I didn’t sleep so well that night, but it was so fantastic that I didn’t mind the next day. The dreams I had that night were the most vivid of the whole trip.

Day 4 – Arriving in Norris and Madison

The next day I awoke to no animal movement except for the little mallards on the lake. I woke up a bit later to get the sleep I knew I needed and to let the Sun warm up the fog from the lake. I pumped water, ate some breakfast and got on my way.

I passed Wolf and Ice Lake fairly early in the day and got out to Norris, where my trail disappeared into a giant meadow, with no landmarks in sight. I was completely lost for about an hour and heading into the direction I knew the road would be in. I trudged through the thick sedge grass in the meadow and followed power lines out to the road at Norris and the main road. Once I was on the road I decided to check out the Geyser basin. It did not disappoint, Norris has the most dynamic thermal activity in the park and is constantly changing. I spent about an hour exploring there, ate a little, then began to walk down the road to the Madison Campground.

At this point my feet were pretty destroyed, it was the first time I had worn my boots and I didn’t have a send pair of shoes to trade out. I was moving too slowly to get to Madison before nightfall so I decided to throw up my thumb and try to get my second ride of the trip. Probably 200 cars passed me before a truck stopped pretty far ahead, it looked like the guy who stopped was reorganizing his trunk space. I confirmed that he was going to give me a ride and a feeling of relief washed over me.

The next 15 miles took about 20 minutes rather than a whole day. Nate and his family of four, two younger boys, were my miracle that day, giving me lots of snacks and food to continue on with my back country adventure. They had previously traveled around Shoshone Lake and I figured that would be a good place to spend a night or two.

I got into the campground, tired and hungry and went to the local store to buy as much food as I could eat that night, including bacon, instant noodles, and BBQ style kettle chips.

I was getting my fire setup to cook the bacon when my Irish neighbors came over with some Bourbon whiskey to share!

These two gentlemen were from Ireland doing the continental divide trail on bike and were also looking to take a day and rest (I had covered quite a lot of distance in the past 3 days and needed to rest my feet from the heavy boots). We became friends quickly and began to tell of our lives back home, Tommy was a poet and Dermot, well I’m not too sure about Dermot’s story but he had traveled a lot and continued to love living in Ireland. We decided that the following day we would go fishing and take it easy at the campground, as it was one of the few places with accessible food. The rest of the park seemed to be completely shut-down for the season.

Day 5 – Fishing in Madison

I slept like a little baby that night, the bourbon kept me plenty warm and I was very happy to have a couple of friends to share time with. Tommy and I woke up late and went out to the river to fly fish and we spent the day exploring different flies and trying to entice the fish to our reel to no avail. Tommy had previously gotten his fishing license and I was happy to learn all about the conservation efforts for the local species of cutthroat trout. In fact, if you catch a bass in Yellowstone you are required to kill it. They are very intelligent about how they want to preserve native species in the park, I recommend checking out the rules simply because they are so interesting.

We came back to camp and had a couple of beers together and cooked some more bacon, I was definitely trying to eat as much fat as I could over those two days in Madison. And again I went to sleep a happy camper.

Part 2: Mental Acclimatization

Day 6 – Faerie Falls

The next day I woke up and packed up all my things, ready to try taping up my toes to keep them from forming more blisters from my boots. It worked out okay, but the first part of that day was still extremely difficult. The pain in my feet just didn’t seem to alleviate for any reason, no matter how I changed my walking technique. Eventually I found that stepping with my heels first was the only way to keep my toes from exploding with pain. I would use this type of walking technique for the rest of the trip, which definitely slowed down my pace.

The Madison River area turned out to be one of my absolute favorite places in the park. It was beautiful, everyone was friendly, and the fishing was really good. I could see myself going back during the summer months to stay for a couple of week and just follow the river and fish.

I got to following the Firehole River in the morning, which drains south from the Madison Junction. There was a beautiful waterfall feature as well as massive cascades, so I spent some time just following the water and ate a solid lunch sandwich from the Madison Campground area.

I got back onto the trail from the fountain flat drive where I saw herds of buffalo roaming around the Western side of the park. They seem to love the thermal features, even when it is hot out. Whilst on the trail, I saw a buffalo that was really close, but seemed to pay no mind to me. I knew these were the most dangerous animals in the park so I kept as much distances as I could between myself and these absolute units of pure muscle.

Bison that is too close for Comfort

Further down the Faerie Falls trail, which was spectacular, a group of about 4 bison herded together and were about 130 yards away from me. One of the bison stared me down from the side of his eye, looking at me like I was a wolf or some other predator. It stomped its hooves at me and began to paw the ground towards me. I hunched my shoulders and looked away to show that I wasn’t a threat and simply. continued along the trail. Another bison stepped in between myself and the aggro male, probably a female calming her mate, and I simply walk away into the distance.

I walked a fair distance to the Faerie Falls waterfall, which is so beautiful, and met German couple who were celebrating their halfway point through medical school. Their English was very good and we got along great until I split from the trail to head to my campsite for that night. I slept in the forest that night, entranced by the beauty I had been able to enjoy that day.

Slow motion capture of low water flow of Faerie Falls

Day 7 – The end of the Faerie Trails and Old Faithful

I woke up to the sounds of baby birds and squirrels in the trees. Packed up camp and got ready for the next leg of my adventure. I was just starting to run low on food and gas so I knew that I would have to get to a store soon. I left the forest campground and headed back into the plains, where there were lots of tourists exploring the thermal features just north of Old Faithful.

I enjoyed walking along the decks by all kinds of amazingly unique natural wonders heading down to the national monument that I had visited once before with my friends from college. I got into the visitor area and talked with the rangers about where the southward back country campsites were and got a fishing permit and fly fishing rod to go out and have some fun in the rivers and lakes. I was running out of butane so I also grabbed some gas and bought a few food items, but they didn’t have any of the freeze dried meals that I knew I would need in the back country. I also had my first cheeseburger of the trip, which was just ok. I get spoiled by the incredibly good food in California.

I continued out of the highly trafficked area to get back into the back country and took the Howard Eaton trail down to the first back country campsite along the Firehole River, which had lots of thermal activity. I decided against a fire that night and setup my camp site as the sun dropped below the horizon. I was ready to get back into the sticks and see some more wildlife and nature and beautiful unique thermal features that Yellowstone is known for.

Castle Geyser

Day 8 – Shoshone Lake 1

I woke up a little late as I usually like to when its really cold out and packed up all of my things and made breakfast, which was usually instant coffee and a backpacker meal. I realized I only had one breakfast left and I cursed myself for not getting more food at Old Faithful. I had been too focused on getting fishing going for myself and idealizing about catching and eating a fish while I was out. I got going onto the trail heading south to Shoshone lake and figured I would just go as far as I could.

Shoshone Lake Sunset

My feet were finally feeling a lot better; I had bought moleskins, Neosporin, and blister medic kits at Old Faithful so I was completely ready to start experimenting with the optimal way to keep my feet from re-blistering. I walked along the Shoshone Lake trail for a long time until reaching the area that forks north. I surveyed several campground that didn’t allow for a fire, which greatly disappointed me because I was hoping to catch and cook a lake trout!

I continued on for about 15 miles that day which I was very happy with due to the state of my feet. I got to the northern campsites of the lake at dusk and setup my tent and 0 degree sleeping bag and that night I slept great. I was used to the trumpeting elk and got through the whole night without waking up too much. There were lots of sounds throughout the night, but I think I just got really used to them.

Day 9 – Shoshone Lake 2

I woke up happy and ready to start fishing, I had setup my pole the night before was stoked to get to lake fishing. However, in Old Faithful I purchased a fly fishing rod which is definitely used to running water and not the still water of a lake. I fished for about 2 hours, took a desperately needed bath and pumped water to get ready for another day of walking, all day long.

Shoshone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

I got about a half a mile further along the trail when I discovered a couple of park rangers that were assessing the back country campsites along Shoshone Lake. I stopped to talk to get as much information about the area as I could and was told that Lewis Lake Campground was still open and that there was a store down there. I was stoked! I needed to get more food and it would be so nice to be around other people again; I thought maybe Tommy and Dermot would still be there, as they had planned for two nights camping in Lewis Lake…maybe they would stay for a third?

I headed down the Delacy Creek Trail by the river and made excellent time heading down to Lewis Lake. I had started the day late due to fishing and bathing so I hadn’t met the rangers until about noon. I got to the DogsHead Trailhead and went east until the road, where I walked down to Lewis Lake Campground.

I got to the ranger station and they had several reserved, but unused, campgrounds. I guess there are some reserved for hikers and bikers there, but she sent me to a regular campground that can house up to 6 people. But there was no store! And no way of getting more food for that matter. I was pissed! Both at myself for listening to the rangers and at the campground for not having at least granola or chocolate bars to sell. It just seemed so silly to me to have a remote campground that didn’t sell food.

I was down to two back country meals, Mushroom Stroganoff (which is delicious, highly recommend) and Green Curry. Sleep that night came easily, but with the stress of knowing that the time had come to leave the park. I had exhausted my resources and my mental energy and I was ready to head back out to Cody. And I knew that getting out of the park, I would need as much luck as I could get.

Day 10 – Lewis Campground and Exiting Yellowstone Park

In the morning I woke up rather early, I was planning on fishing again to see if I couldn’t catch something awesome to keep me fed for another day. I packed up my stuff and headed to the restroom where I met a guy named John, who was traveling through the area with a supped up Jeep. We chatted for a minute (I let him use the bathroom first because I was in no rush) and I learned that he was from Sacramento! I told him about my situation, how I had arrived at the campground to find no store and no way of buying more food and he took me back to his camp site and fed me!

John and his wife (whose name I do not remember) was literally one of the nicest people I have ever met. They made me hash browns, eggs, and bacon and we enjoyed stories about their own backpacking trips through Desolation Wilderness, an area just outside of Lake Tahoe that I also love to spend time in. They also got me some backpacker meals and snacks to take with me, for which I will always be grateful. What an amazing twist of events from the night before! I asked John if he wouldn’t mind giving me a drive to West Thumb and he happily took me to the gas station there, which was only open for gas.

I went to the ranger station in West thumb to see about additional campsites, but they were all at the southern end of Yellowstone Lake, pretty far into the back country. However I still reserved a campsite for that night, just in case I couldn’t find a ride out of the park to Cody, I might as well have a decent place to sleep that wasn’t off the trail.

I got out of West Thumb after checking out the geysers, which in my opinion weren’t even close to as interested as the Norris Geyser Basin or the area north of Old Faithful and managed to hitch a ride to fishing bridge with a Mexican dude that lives in San Francisco. He was super nice and gave me a Blue Moon on the road, and we chatted about how great the wilderness was.

I continued down the road from fishing bridge and kept my thumb up, hoping that someone heading to Cody, WY wouldn’t mind picking me up. About 20 minutes later, Allen (same name as my dad, different spelling though) who is a Scottish man living in New Zealand and Perth, Australia picked me up. We drove about 10 minutes just talking when we saw a commotion on the side of the road.

There were two bears up on the side of a mountain foraging for food with a huge crowd of people watching them and taking pictures of their every move. The bears seemed not to care at all and rangers were watching the people very closely to make sure they didn’t do anything stupid.

I had a good chat with two of the rangers about the bears and how they manage them and apparently there is a little less than one bear attack a year, which in my opinion is really good. I guess there were 3 bison attacks earlier this year from people getting too close. Anyways, Allen and I got some great photos of the bears and then continued on our way back to Cody, where we had a couple of drinks. Then Allan took me to the end of the South Fork Road where the water ice forms that I came to Cody to watch and we marveled at the beautiful, but barren mountains. I really hope I get to see some of those infamous south fork pillars form this year, but I won’t see them on this trip due to the unusually hot October weather. Allan will always have my gratitude for taking me about 100 miles out of the park, he was a really fun and nice guy to hang out with for a day.

In Conlusion

This concludes my journey through Yellowstone. Huge shouts out to the people that helped me to get from place to place, I definitely would have suffered a lot more without them! John, Allan, Tommy, Dermot, Crissy, Terri, Isabelle, and Alex, and of course Josh, I really really appreciate your kindness and it will not go forgotten.

The Gear Reviews

10 Days and 9 Nights Journeying through Yellowstone National Park’s Back Country Read More »

istockphotoyogastockphoto

Teaching Yoga as an Outlet for Creativity

Teaching with Passion

Over the past few months I have fallen into a new depth of relationship with teaching yoga. It is kind of parallel to my production of music in that I feel that my ability to express myself becomes more and more robust. All of the mediums I have at my disposal, including this website, are going to help me to connect in the world in a way that is so cool! I really enjoy being able to share all this stuff.

I’ve settled into 8 classes a week as a slight downgrade from the 9 I was teaching a couple months ago. A pace that I am glad to slow into because I need to continue my own yoga practice! It is a continual endeavor and honestly, I still like practicing my own yoga more than teaching. But that gaps gets smaller and smaller with time. I love the way that people take their time at the end of my class and the things that people say to me are so incredible sometimes. One of my students was telling my that he’s had tons of firsts in my class and that makes me stoked! It’s easy to get in your head about yoga and I try to involve the inner dialogue as little as possible. Feel that shit yo.

Evolution within communities

Anyways, I can’t believe how East Wind continues to create waves in the community and there are tons of people starting to sign up for classes and you can feel the community growing. The newer teachers are a big part of that and I’m super excited to teach alongside them. Obviously Scott, Tess, and Julie  hold down the fort, but its really nice to have some additional support to truly believe in and practice with. Ben and I have been friends for a while and I’m really supportive of him teaching yoga because the dude is a natural guru. Same with Francesca (also new to EW), I’m actually a little bit jealous about how well she connects with her squad. Anyways, both of them are going to be great teachers for me, once I get back into practicing in a studio. I just don’t want to practice anything but different ways to get into handstands right now, for some reason. Obviously that means that normal studio yoga classes aren’t quite “doin’ it” for me. It’s just me being an introvert.

Moving onto new things

Oh yeah, and Buck opened a new studio! Buck has always been a great teacher to me and I’m super excited to see how he evolves while doing his own thing. MomentOM is the name lol. I actually think that exact name was already taken by a studio in Pennsylvania ha. But shit man, he had like 60 people in that room in his Instagram post doing bicycles, it was nuts!!

Right now, I just want to be in my cave of yoga. practicing by myself, observing how the cogs of my mind reel and churn and do what they do. I need to spend the time alone, simply to post-process the amount of stuff that I am dealing with while creating all of this art. I want to stay as balanced as possible for this teaching yoga thing. Also, all that EDM music! Album on the way! (It might be called Galactic, or something like that..)

Also also, I am working on the free downloads of yoga classes. Hang in there. I might buy some software tonight to help, I want it to be working tomorrow.

Also also also, Yoga Tuesday nights at East Wind in Roseville are about to be off the chain! I’ve really tuned in my playlists lately #DJ

Well, of too spend my day off making music, first I’m gona run with a homie. Here’s to livin’ the dream!! <3

 

Teaching Yoga as an Outlet for Creativity Read More »

photo by Caitlin Telford

Plitvice National Parks

I feel like I’ve visited heaven. Millions of waterfalls, lakes everywhere, water so clear you could drink it, fish the size of your leg and so many trees, bushes so thick that you can barely see the water flowing down and out of them, and a wooden stair path floating above it all like you are in the Wookie jungle of Endor IV from the final episode of Star Wars.

The national park was epic in proportions that I am still just beginning to understand. 1.1 million tourists visit the park each year, but it is pristine; there are people walking around after tour groups to pick up litter, very few amenities in the park, and it is specifically designed to move tourists through the park.

The park was founded in 1949 in the heart of Croatia, near large mountains, endless nature, and is near the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All of the lakes are arranged in cascading waterfalls that flow down from the highest mountains into the lower basins and the park surrounds an 80m waterfall which is the biggest I have ever seen. The entire park is completely breathtaking; upon entering you feel that you have been taken into a different alien world, one which is natural and completely untouched, even by you and the hundreds if not thousands of tourists that accompany you.

There were probably close to 10 or 20 thousand waterfalls in the park; they littered the entire area and created somewhat of a fantasy world where after an hour they were completely commonplace. Each tier brought with it new wonder and beauty; as we got lower and lower, the waterfalls became more plentiful, bigger, and more powerful until our final arrival at the monstrous 80m waterfall at the bottom of the national park.

We didn’t see any animals at the park, most likely because of the massive tourist groups moving throughout the area in what must have been a daily occurrence. There were no shortage of tourists at the park, but insects and fish were everywhere; the water seemed clear enough to drink from, though it was all strictly regulated and controlled.

The Park reminded me a lot of Yosemite, though the water was far more prominent in the park. There was a massive underground cave system with some unique biological species and plenty of caves and pathways that I could have gotten lost in for a couple of weeks if I had the time. It was labyrinth of beauty and undefinable beauty; I can only imagine how awe-inspiring the park must be during the winter months. It beckons a return journey, as does the rest of the beautiful country of Croatia.

Tomorrow I will be spending another day in Split, after a very enjoyable two days in Zadar; though there seems to be quite a lot of hostility towards tourists in the town of Zadar, I haven’t experienced any discrimination in Split despite the increase in tourism here. We will be visiting a couple of islands on a booze cruise and I am immensely looking forward to spending the time with my family.

Stay tuned for more of the adventure in Croatia, until we move on to Italy, Switzerland, and I finally return to the gorgeous city of Paris as my final destination on the 5 month+ trip around the world.

 

Plitvice National Parks Read More »

Subscribe

ElliotTelford.com

We promise we’ll never spam! Take a look at our Privacy Policy for more info.

Scroll to Top