Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Into the Swamp

After several days on the beach the brilliant sunshine was turning the kids from pink to red even with sunscreen, sun shirts, hats. So we set off for Alaka'i Swamp. It is in the backyard of Mount Wai'ale'ale, the wettest place on earth. At 4000 feet it is above Kauai's mosquito line.

We took the Pihea trail from Kalalau lookout.
On our left lay a dizzying vista of the Kalalau Valley, through fog. Greta kept shouting, "You don't have to hold my hand so tight!"
On our right, the high plateau where the swamp lies. Here she was shouting, "Clementine is too close to the edge!"
The Pihea trail is slippery red mud, steep in spots, with root ladders.

After a little over a mile we reach the boardwalks. Now it is easy going. You can even run.
1.8 miles in we stopped at the crossroads of the Pihea and Alaka'i Swamp Trails for lunch.

Judging by our visitor it was a popular lunch spot.
The swamp has many birds, but they stay out of sight. Also many ferns in plain view.

And mossy trees.
This native plant is a relative of the pepper.

The boardwalks turned into steps. 263 of them. We counted.

Back to mud, but now it is gray.
The path descended to a lovely brook where we soaked our toes.

And looked at lichens. Well, I think it is a lichen.
Then we were off again, back up the staircase, through the ferns.
Greta had to pause to unfurl fiddleheads.
Past the ohia blossoms.
Back to the red dirt.

And mud.

Pst the sticklike trees filtering the light.
Which gave way suddenly to the vista of Kalalau Valley, now free of clouds.
Greta stopped for a quick self portrait in the mud.

By the time we made it back to the lookout our shadows were getting long.
And the fast kids were waiting for us.
We hardly saw the big kids on the trail. Each time we caught up to them, they'd close up the pocket knives they were whittling roosters with and be off again.

And when we got home our friends had grilled steak and lobster tails waiting for us. Ah, life in paradise.


patricia said...

Look at that fog! And the ohia blossom! It all looks so far away and out of time from October in California.

Keep posting those photos so we all get a little bit of paradise!

Stefaneener said...

Sounds WONDERFUL -- especially the cooking friends. The fast children is just my life too these days. Like darters, they are.