Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Hiking to La`au Point, Part 4

As I approached La`au Point, the trail began to narrow. It appeared that no vehicles had passed this way — just animals and people. I had spotted many deer tracks during my hike. I was told that the deer are quite clever and it takes a pretty good hunter (or preferably several) to bag one. However, it is worth the effort since the venison is quite tasty — again, so I was told, since I did not have the privilege of sampling that treat.

Backtracking (in the story timeline), when I had driven down to my starting point at Dixie Maru Beach, a herd of deer crossed the road just in front of me. I tried to grab my camera but it was in a backpack in the back seat and I just was not quick enough — certainly not as quick as the deer. Thus I made a mental note not to repeat that mistake and to keep my camera within easy reach — and I was determined to catch a shot of the deer if I were luckily enough to encounter another herd during my hike. And would you believe that I did have another deer encounter — unfortunately, there were only two of them and by the time I raised my camera, they were gone. Too bad.

If you are ever lucky enough to duplicate my hike, you will begin to understand the passionate feelings of the Hawai`ian people about this area. Here I encountered another heiau, partially overgrown with Keawe. If the owners of the Moloka`i Ranch had been successful in obtaining permits to sell luxury homesites here, sites like this which are sacred to Hawai`ians likely would have been bulldozed over. That part of me that feels like I was Hawai`ian in a previous life shutters and sheds a tear for all that has been lost and for the threat to these few remaining sacred spots.

Keawe, Keawe, Keawe, everywhere. One characteristic of these trees was really starting to annoy me. The branches have thorns — long, hard thorns. Over the years, branches have broken off with whole branches and shorter, broken segments lying everywhere. Even if you are careful where you step, you will eventually step on a branch and drive a thorn into the sole of your shoe. In my case, I was wearing my jogging shoes which have thick but soft soles. The longer thorns penetrated all the way to the soles of my feet — OW!

All I can do was to hobble to a place where I could steady myself and remove the thorn — not a difficult task because the branch segment was generally still attached to the thorn. I experienced at least a dozen such pinpricks on this hike.

Curiously, when I eventually arrived at my condo on Maui a week later, I discovered that there were shorter thorns still embedded in the soles of my shoes. So I got out my traveling Leatherman tool and pulled out some three dozen additional thorns from Moloka`i.

At last, I finally reached the the point of land which seemed to be La`au Point. There was no sign here telling me that I had arrived — so I just had to guess. Unfortunately, the Keawe was so thick, that I decided to forgo getting to a point for a photograph. Maybe next time, I'll have to bring a machete and blaze a trail.

Not far from where I turned back, I encountered a stand of cactus. It made me feel right at home. Notice how skinny and dried out the cactus is. This confirms that this end of the island does not get much precipitation.


It was at this point that I switched lenses on my camera from my normal 24-120mm zoom to my new 70-300mm zoom. I do not like changing lenses more than necessary because dust can get into the camera and settle on the sensor. But this was my plan — wanting to use the longer end of the 70-300mm just to get some photos that I could not easily get with my normal lens.

Shortly thereafter, I spotted another boat wreck, not far from the beach that held the debris that I shared with you earlier. It is interesting how far up on the rocks this boat was pushed — by waves or humans? No way to tell.

Wow! How did I miss this beach on the outbound portion of my hike? My guess is that I was on the trail and did not come to this exact spot. Sure glad that I did on the return trip. Again the smaller version of the photo did not do it justice — I hope you like the bigger version.

Sometimes a photo just does not faithfully represent what you saw in person. This was one of those times when the wind was blowing and the waves were huge. My zoom lens tried but I guess I would need one of those giant lenses that are seen on the sidelines at an NFL game. Of course a 4x6 image will not give the same impression as a larger image.

Although, I have to admit that the waves did make a BIG impression when they hit the rocks — with spray shooting way up into the air. Of course, the photographer has to cover the camera lens immediately after the shot so as not to get spray on the glass. I was carrying a lens cleaning cloth but you hate to have to clean the lens every few minutes.

Continuing on, I found some more interesting lichen.

Notice how there appears to be two different types with completely different coloration and texture. Fascinating!

Finally, the 300mm zoom showed its worth. I spotted a female Cardinal in a tree. This is a real treat — I often see Brazilian Cardinals in Hawai`i — the birds with the crested red head, white body and dark gray wings — but not often do I see a red Northern Cardinal.

And it did not take long for me to spot her mate in a nearby tree on the other side of the trail. They must have had their nest in the area and were keeping their eyes on me.

Wow! What a visual and photographic treat! And what a terrific way to finish my hike to La`au Point.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com