TREK AMERICA, THE BIG ISLAND, HAWAII. DAY FIVE

Monday, 19 September 2016
HILO BAY HOSTEL AND BEARS COFFEE
Having a bed for the night you would have thought after camping with no pillow I would have had the best sleep, well I didn't. Hilo is on the rainy side of the island and with a window left open it is loud and to top it off in the morning several really noisy lorries went past. 
trek america hawaii

In the morning a few of us decided to go get breakfast and opted for Bears Coffee. A little cafe just round the corner from the hostel. The food in Hilo is amazing and bears coffee didn't disappoint. I had homemade waffles with whipped cream, papaya and banana with an iced coffee. It was filling and delicious. 

Once breakfast was over we decided to walk down to a little farmers market, I love the idea of farmers markets buying local produce and supporting the community. This one didn't quite meet my expectations but there was lots of fruits and vegetables on sale that I have never heard of before. Along with the typical touristy souvenirs you find. I would have loved to have stayed a little longer in Hilo to have a look around some of the shops but we had to get going before most of them opened. 

When we were packing the van, there was a homeless man with the most adorable pup. It makes me sad but also makes me question where homeless people find dogs? But the guy was nice and I also really wanted to steal the pup. 

AKAKA FALLS LOOKOUT and HONOMU TOWN
There is a legend behind Akaka falls although I am told there are several different versions of the legend, the one I heard involves a warrior called Akaka who cherished both his wife and dog, however he was unfaithful and had two lovers who were said to be goddess' Lehua and Maile, when his wife would go to visit her family he would visit one of his lovers. One time his wife returned unexpectedly and calls out for him, he hears and feeling bad he begins to walk back to their home. On the way Akaka falls into a pool at the bottom of the waterfall and is transformed into a stone. His dog torn between fear and loyalty hesitates to jump in, the dog is then transformed into a stone at the top of the waterfall. His wife seeing all this tries to save Akaka but can't and is transformed into a stone near the edge of the falls. The two lovers wept so hard they turned into two small waterfalls along the gulch. I have no idea where these legends come from but I find them fascinating. 
trek america hawaii

trek america hawaii
The falls follow a short hike around the waterfalls, the first fall you will see if you turn right at the start of the trail is the Kahuna Falls which is 100ft, continuing on you come to Akaka Falls which plummets at 442 feet into a gorge. The falls and the hike are beautiful, there was such a lush rainforest and the most spectacular plants and flowers seeing these plants instantly made me think of Jurassic Park, this is how I originally envisioned most of Hawaii to look.

As most of you know may know I did the Southern Sun tour with trek america last year, that tour in comparison felt more action packed to this one even though you spent a lot of time in the van, the van was fun because it helped the group bond. However since we didn't spend a lot of time in the van on this one it also meant instead of services stations we got to visit small towns and see how the locals live. Today we visited Honomu town, a quaint little town full of rustic looking shops, full of trinkets and other wonders. There was this great antique glass shop filled to the brim with knick-knacks, retro clothing and other treasures to be discovered. 

trek america hawaii
For lunch we stop of at this really great beach park, our tour guide had also picked up some new fruit from the farmers market to try which were described as custard apples with a sticky sweet centre. What I loved about this beach park is that there was the family there, having a BBQ with their kids playing in the water and I can only imagine how fun that would be, to have this as your weekend all the time. Growing up in England I feel that is something I really didn't have. It was beautiful place with a stream leading down into the ocean. 

We was meant to be doing an optional activity today of some water activities but due to the rain and the water levels rising it got cancelled. It was slightly disappointing but also not the end of the world. Instead our guide took us on to the Onomea trail. The trail took us to this secluded beach where I took of my shoes and went paddling in a little pool, it was here that I somewhat started to feel like an explorer. We climbed up this hill and whilst most of the group went to sit by the sea I decided to go venturing into the rainforest behind me and I did all of that with my shoes still of, thankfully my feet weren't ripped about. I love the ocean but my heart belongs to forests; I could have spent hours getting lost in there the only thing missing animals to discover. 


WORLD BOTANICAL GARDENS and LAUPAHOEHOE BEACH PARK


The tour included a trip to the botanical gardens which began with (you guessed it) another waterfall; I can't complain though, waterfalls are so beautiful! Next up we did a maze and our tour guide turned it into a little competition; whoever got out first wins a prize! So me and this guy are ready to run into this maze, which was pretty small and you can see people standing up in it, and I was thinking to myself 'yeah I've got this, I know the maze trick' (placing my hand against the wall.) We were both running around like crazy whilst others took it slow, a few hedge jumped but everyone made it out apart from me and two other people, the three of us united to try and get out to no avail, we ended up going back to the beginning feeling like complete failures. It was a lot of fun though. 

The plants were spectacular, my favourite was the eucalyptus tree which honestly looks like someone has painted it, really strange and unusual. I ended up working around by myself for a while and I enjoyed the alone time. I also stumbled across some coconut trees with lots of coconuts on the floor so I ran under these so quickly in fear of one of them falling onto my head. I wish we had more time to look around the whole of the gardens but Hawaii itself is full of so many beautiful plants and trees wherever you look.

Our campsite for the night was the laupahoehoe beach park, the name might sound familiar in 1946 on the 1st April a tsunami hit here. At the time there was a school house which ended up getting swept away killing 24 people, 21 of those being school children, it was so haunting and sad to think about. Hawaii now has alarms that ring out in event of a tsunami. The camp grounds were really nice but again pretty basic with outdoor showers and restrooms with a toilet and sink but you can't really moan when you are camped right next to the ocean. It was my groups turn to cook dinner again tonight and we made a stir fry with tofu for the veggies, afterwards a few of us stayed in making friendship bracelets and chatting away. Starting to feel pretty sleepy I decided to head to bed at around ten pm so I grabbed my wash stuff from the tent and cautiously walked over to the restroom, I had been warned that there was frogs or toads all over the walls; I have a massive fear of them but thankfully I didn't encounter any. Whilst I was brushing my teeth the tsunami alarm went off, it was loud and I was like what the hell. I looked outside to see everyone running, I panicked and grabbed my stuff and ran over to everyone else. By this time the alarms had turned off and even though we could hear the crashing of the waves we had no idea what was going on, we stood around for a couple of minutes watching everybody else leave the campground which made me feel more eager to get out of there. Our guide decided it was best to leave until we knew for sure what was happening so we all hopped into the van to find out. Thankfully it turned out to be a false alarm but honestly I have never been so scared in my life, some nice locals told us it was a malfunction and the had been in contact with the police. It is a scary realisation that the people of Hawaii live with this factor, with the chance of this happening every day. We ventured back to camp, feeling nervous about falling to sleep which wasn't helped by the rain that had begun to fall.

To read about the rest of my Hawaiian adventure click here and if you want like to donate to my fund my travel for Costa Rica to work with animals click here

TREK AMERICA, THE BIG ISLAND, HAWAII. DAY FOUR.

Friday, 16 September 2016
Half way through the tour and in the morning we packed up camp filled with excitement and anticipation since tonight we would be staying in a hostel! Don't get me wrong I love camping but going without showers for two days and being pretty hot and sticky was not attractive, my hair also managed to become filled with sun lotion and morph into a greasy yet frizzy mess. I was so eager to wash it! 

trek america hawaii

Our first stop of the day were hot springs which was completely unexpected it wasn't on the itinerary, but that's one of the great things about these tours, the guides will take you to different places so no tour is ever the same! The springs are located next to the ocean with a small inlet that lets tropical fish swim into the springs. Like I said before I felt dirty, so I was the first to climb into the springs in an attempt to feel clean, and to my surprise the water was nice and warm it felt good. It was like taking a lukewarm bath. I think if I lived near these hot springs I would go down there everyday I felt so relaxed with the sun beating down on us, surrounded by palm trees and the gentle crashing of waves, if only all my mornings started like this. 

It wasn't long until we had to drag ourselves out, the slight feeling of being clean soon vanished as I got changed in a dingy toilet cubicle complete with nice holes so people could easily see in!

I mentioned in a previous post that something I was looking forward to was going inside a lava tube so when I found out that today we would be going down another one I was so excited!! Our tour guide told us to bring a torch and that flip flops would be suitable footwear. We made our way down steep steps then lead to the caves opening, again beautifully overgrown with vines and plants, we was given around half an hour to go into the cave and have a look around. I think the lava tube itself is around 25 miles long and if I had the time I would have loved to have attempted that. 

kaumana caves trek america

Why my tour guide said it was okay to wear flip flops I do not know, I wore dainty sandals and the first thing I realised was that this was a BIG mistake the floor was so rocky and jaggered, as we ventured further in the tube changed in size from being openly large to having to get down on your hands and knees and crawl through spaces, only a few of us ventured in as far as we could before we ran out of time. We stopped to turn our flashlights of to take in the darkness and the eerily silence of this place and imagine how hard it would be to find our way out of here if all of our torches died. It was humid and sticky. We spotted roots of trees that had forced themselves through the ground, into this vast tube and somehow managed to plant it roots onto the rocky ground. What I loved most was seeing how lava had carved its way into the land with the roofs being so smooth in comparison to the floor. I am really quite proud of myself for managing to do this in sandals although I did bang my head a few times and came out with a few cuts and scratches, it was one of my favourite things that we did on this tour. Unfortunately I didn't get too many photos inside the cave but if you want to have a look do a google search, you won't be disappointed! 

Due to being ahead of time those of us who were booked onto the helicopter ride still had time to go to the rainbow falls lookout, it was a beautiful and very picturesque setting although I couldn't see any rainbows. Near the falls is an area covered in Banyan trees, I am not to sure about the history/life of the banyan tree but I do know they aren't native to Hawaii. However they are without a doubt one of the most incredible trees I have ever seen with branches coming of in all directions, they are also insanely big. I am pretty sure they also produce some form of fruit which smells incredibly bad once it has fallen to the ground and begins to rot but it is easy to get past this to admire the beauty of the tree.

Afterwards we did a quick food shop and the four of us who were booked onto the helicopter flight was picked up by a taxi here. We was booked onto the circle of fire tours which covers the most geologically active environment on earth for volcano activity (all so I am told.) 

This was my first helicopter ride ever, I was nervous and excited. I always see helicopters and think they always look so wobbly and unsteady I wonder what it feels like. After a health and safety induction and being weighed we were ready to board. We opted for an eco-star helicopter that gave better viewing. I was also sat in the front in the middle so I had incredible views. The ride felt surreal, if I had to describe it as anything I would say this is how I imagine floating to feel like, I remember looking down at the trees below moving so fast yet thinking to myself surely we aren't moving that fast when will it pick up speed to be told we was moving at 100mph! Our pilot was awesome too, full of information and super friendly, apparently this company was used to film areal views for Jurassic Park which is pretty cool. I don't know how many of you have seen the news over the last couple of months about the lava flow reaching the sea in Hawaii for the first time in a couple of years, this guy was telling us how you can hike up to the flow and get within arm distance of it which is actually pretty scary but something I would have loved to do. 

trek america hawaii lava helicopters

Anyway this was one experience I won' forget for a lifetime and the icing on the cake was getting to see LAVA, it is one of those rare things you think you will never see but we was extremely lucky. The pilot told us he had been out flying half an hour before we got there and this particular flow wasn't there then. The pilot described lava in such a perfect way, it is scary and destructive yet seeing lava is seeing the world being created, the beginning of new life and in years to come when maybe we will all be dead and gone the lava we saw here today will be apart of new land, home to new life. It really is incredible. 

Since we did the helicopter ride and everyone else went straight to the hostel I was feeling slightly eager to get there, have a shower and get ready. I was waiting for a shower for half an hour but when I got in there it felt SO good to not have to shower in a swimming costume and to have a good clean, to dry my hair afterwards and for it to feel clean, smooth and soft! The hostel is really nice as well, so if you happen to be going to Hilo I would recommend this one. 

We ate at a place called pineapples and it was so busy on arrival that our group had to be split up to be seated. Whilst we waited though we ordered cocktails, I can't recall what I ordered but it had gin in it and it was good. After what felt like a long wait we were finally seated, I ordered a tofu red thai curry and it was GOOD, so good I wanted more. I can see why this place is so popular, it was divine. You know when you eat something so good you spend days thinking about it, it was like that. When I came home from Hawaii one of the first meals I made was me trying to replicate this meal. After our meal we all headed back to the hostel and I stayed up taking advantage of being able to charge my phone and gopro. 

Have you been to Hawaii before?

To read about the rest of my Hawaiian adventure click here and if you want like to donate to my fund my travel for Costa Rica to work with animals click here

TREK AMERICA, THE BIG ISLAND, HAWAII. DAY THREE.

Monday, 5 September 2016
Today we woke up slightly early so we could be on the Kilauea Iki trail before 9am and beat some of the heat (compared to the Southern Sun tour I did last year, I love that on this one we get lie ins due to no long drives!!) The Kilauea Iki is a pit crater which is next to the main summit of Kilauea, an eruption occurred here in 1959 when lava burst from a half mile crack in the crater. 
trek america hawaii kilauea iki trail

On arrival we was welcomed to a picture perfect view of a rainbow over the crater, a good sign for the day? The descent to the crater goes through a lush rainforest filled with insects and birds and was slightly muddy due to some rain. Our group ended up splitting into two, with the group I was walking with slightly ahead and one of them acting as a guide to point out places of interest. 
trek america hawaii kilauea iki trail

trek america hawaii kilauea iki trail
trek america hawaii kilauea iki trail
How many of you have seen lord of the rings? (All of you I hope) On arriving on the crater, a solidified yet still steaming, rocky terrain I instantly thought of Sam and Frodos walk across Mordor but at least I could pretend for a while I was in some epic fantasy adventure. The crater was jagged and smooth in places with a sparkly floor, although we were walking from one side to the other marker stones are put in place to follow, we however decide to go a little of course and I am sure if our tour guide was with us he would have stopped us! 
trek america hawaii kilauea iki trail

trek america hawaii kilauea iki trail
trek america hawaii kilauea iki trail
A few of us decided to be more 'adventurous' and climb up a little rocky hill, with stones that tumbled away under your feet, a few of us discarded our bags to make the climb a little bit easier. Once at the top we posed for pictures and absorbed the vastness of the crater around us, thankfully we all made it up and down with no injuries..

The start of the crater is quite jagged but as you move further along the crater it gets smoother and flatter. In total the hike was four miles and fairly easy, with an unexpected breeze in the crater that kept us cool, the hardest part was the descent back up through the rainforest. I am not the fittest (although I have now joined a gym) and a few people were quite shocked to learn that I did no exercise at home but kept up with everyone at front, I was to I think I was trying really hard to suppress my heavy breathing. 

One thing I was so excited about when I booked this tour was going inside a lava tube, when they updated the itinerary they removed anything to do with a lava tubes so I thought we might not get the chance to see one but I was wrong. At the top we waited for everyone else to catch up, me and another was slightly growing impatient waiting for everyone, we were being eager to carry onto the next part and see the Thurston lava tube! 
trek america hawaii thurston lava tube

trek america hawaii thurston lava tube
Almost as if you were stepping into a fairytale portal to another world the cave was shrouded in vines and plants creating a beautiful entrance to an unseen world. Caves are created when a river of lava gradually builds solid walls and a ceiling, with the walls covered in spectacular colourings from minerals found in the lava. It took a couple of minutes to walk through this part of but it was well worth it. 

As I have mentioned in my other Hawaiian posts (and keeping with what I think are interesting things I have learnt) Pele is the goddess of fire, the Hawaiian's observe her activity and give her names to suit her mood/activity, if she erupts inside a crater she is called Kawahineokalua, the woman of the pit, when she flows through forest she is the eater of the land so given the name Kawahine'aihonua and lastly since volcanoes and lava create new land she is given the name Pelehonuamea. 

trek america hawaii chain of craters
Sticking with the volcano theme of the day, after lunch we headed to the chain of craters which is a 19 mile winding path through the East rift and coastal area of Hawaii.The road was originally opened in 1928 and was partly buried in the 1969 flow, the chains of crater road was reopened again in 1979 since 1986 lava has flowed repeatedly over the chain of craters. The lava here has changed the landscape dramatically, looking at the hill you can easily see the two types of lava flow aa (ah-ah) from the 1969-74 Mauna Ulu eruptions and pahoehoe lava from a 2003 flow. 
trek america hawaii chain of craters

trek america hawaii chain of craters
trek america hawaii chain of craters
trek america hawaii chain of craters
trek america hawaii chain of craters
trek america hawaii chain of craters
The lava we walked over was beautiful and shiny, with different colours which comes from minerals found in the lava for example brown shades shows signs of iron, I felt like I was walking on a planet that someone had melted silver over. We walked over the lava until we came to a bit of road that survived this lava flow, it is odd to think this tiny bit of road managed to survive. 

At the end of the chain of craters there was a small trail that led down to the ocean to the Holei sea arch was cut into the cliff around 550 years ago and is slowly crumbling and will one day to seize to exist, it was nice to see the ocean splattered and dance through the little archway. The fruit over here is amazing and I tried a lilikoi juice which was so good!!

We then headed up to the visitor center to look around the gift shops and little museum, it was at this point I fully became away of how burnt my back was! Even though I wore factor 50, my shoulder did not survive snorkeling from the first day and was a nice bright lobster red. I really enjoyed looking around the little museum they had, it explained how life came to Hawaii because as we all know it is in the middle of the pacific ocean with miles of ocean between any other huge land mass. One way animals such as snails migrated was my hitching a ride on the legs of sea birds, which I found fascinating but I am geeky about that kind of stuff! 

VOLCANO WINERY
trek america hawaii volcano winery
On the way back to camp a few of us decided to do a $5 wine tasting, I have never done a wine tasting of any sort and not being a a big drinker I was slightly worried it might go straight to my head. The wine was nice and you could taste the different blends of ingredients, I much preferred the white wines! We also got to try some tea to cleanse the palette which was my favourite part of the tasting. 

Back at camp I was feeling a lot more awake than the night before, we ate under the pavilion playing games and drinking hot chocolate. The sky looked incredible tonight and I really wish I had a camera that could capture it, I have seen some of the most amazing skies in America and I only wish more people could see the sky at night in pristine conditions with no light pollution because it is truly beautiful. 




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