Day 4? – A shoreline hike

Rowan and his dad, with a Monk seal ignoring us sleeping on the beach

At breakfast we had an intriguing conversation with five year old Rowan (from Whitehorse) which went something like this:

Rowan: ‘Did you know that when walking your feet hit the ground but don’t really touch the ground?’

Us: ‘You mean in mid-stride?’

Rowan: ‘No’

Us: ‘When we jump?’

Rowan ‘No, I mean when your feet touch the ground but they don’t really touch the ground.’

Us: ‘Aah, you are talking at the atomic level.’

Rowan: ‘What is atomic level?’

Us: ‘when you are talking about atoms which are the smallest particle (almost) to make up anything.’

Rowan: ‘Yes! There is always space between!’

Rowan will start school in the fall.

While hiking in Kōke’e State Park, we met a man who highly recommended the hike in Po’ipū so we headed there and parked at the beach access next to the Hyatt. We entered under some pine trees growing in the deep golden/rust sand and crashing surf. Only a hundred feet in we talked a small cliff, not difficult but tricky with a large risk for Ian’s new knee so he turned back.

Volunteer whale watchers atop of the cliff

On top of the cliff the view was spectacular looking out onto crashing waves, wind blown foam from the top of waves, sun glittering off the water….and…spouts! Humpbacks according to the volunteers sitting in comfy beach chairs binoculars pushed up to their eyeballs, clipboards on their laps. Without taking the binoculars off, the woman told us what they were doing, interrupting every now and then to report a whale activity, ‘We’re recording what they are doing and …’one dive, one op’. Her partner scribbles numbers on a form while she continues ‘how many, ‘another blow’…’no two blows’…’possible mother and calf’. They are there for a three hour shift. A pretty nice volunteer job!

Trudy and I continue on the sandy trail between the pines. There are multiple trails and we take the more scenic one along the cliff edge. There are a few spots which are rather thin and require a downhill step, gripping the sand with your fingers, silently praying while stepping over…nothing…then an uphill scramble in the sand while thinking about the hundred foot drop at your behind.

We come across a heiaua, a Hawaiian sacred site. There are a few on Kauai easily recognized by the large rock walls. Some are temples, others aquaculture ponds, others sites of refuge. This one has the crashing waves on one side, the path going through it and a deluxe golf course on the other side. It is probably a good reflection of troubled island life.

Trudy exiting the cave entrance

Further down the trail we see a small sign marked ‘cave’ with an arrow pointing inland. We decide to follow it and find ourselves on a rim looking down into what appears to be a large round sink hole. It must have sunk long ago as palm trees and grass were well established on the bottom and a few people are down there being given a tour so we decide to join in. We follow a small trail down until we come to a small cave opening with a shag carpet. Someone appeared on their hands and knees, got up, dusted themselves off and left, so we got down and shuffled through.

Jerry, a volunteer showing us the cave

Jerry, a volunteer explained the origin of the site. Originally a cave, the main roof had long ago collapsed. An archaeological dig had found a few treasures, and a biological look had found a unique species of a blind spider which eats a blind anthropoid-this is a case of the blind eating the blind. The now exposed floor had been planted with native plants and giant land tortoises from Africa had been imported to take the place of large exterminated herbivore land birds in the landscape. Outside of the cave acres of native forest had been planted and the giant turtles roamed underneath the canopy while red cardinals flew through them.

Trudy checking out the birds in the native forest

We continued on until we found a shady viewpoint to have our lunch, then turned around and headed back.

We have been here long enough that I was starting to lose track of what day it is.

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