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We, the Navigators - Part I

The day before I left Hawaii, Annie and I were browsing the shelves at Barnes & Noble before she headed to work next door. I was perusing the local interest shelves and I bought this book for the plane ride home:

Its author, David Lewis, has had years of experience sailing the world's oceans. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he undertook a study of the fast vanishing art of indigenous navigation across the open expanses of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. He sought out native navigators across the Pacific and learned many of their techniques in the most effective way possible - by actually voyaging with them for many days at a time and essentially becoming apprenticed to them. In 1976, as part of the bicentennial celebrations in Hawaii, he was one of the crew members who sailed the 65-foot voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a (which is the Hawai‘ian name for Arcturus) from Hawaii to Tahiti using only traditional techniques, no instruments, and no Western knowledge.

In the book, he details the essential techniques he learned from these very competent navigators, and tries to convey the completely different worldview that informed their practice. In particular, none of the navigators he worked with were ever really able to understand nautical charts, something we would consider absolutely basic to the task. Nevertheless, it was pretty amazing to find so many correspondences between the navigational techniques of the islanders and the techniques many of us use every time we run an O-course, or do an adventure race.

More detail (much more!) below the fold.

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A Recipe

While I was in Hawaii, I took the opportunity to prepare many of our meals. It was even more important on Moloka‘i, because of the dearth of restaurants. We had a basic kitchen setup in the Bamboo Paradise, so it was natural to cook at home. Here's one of the more interesting concoctions I came up with - a nice, well balanced meal using local ingredients.


The final result, with minimal presentation.

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A‘ole Nā Malihini ‘Āina - ‘Ekolu

After the first few days in Moloka‘i, my attention started to turn to the highlands in the center spine of the island, particularly the Moloka‘i Forest Reserve. I started to hatch a plan, involving a steep hike up from where we were staying on the south shore, up and over the 4,000-foot crest to the Waikolu Valley overlook, where we could get a view of the north slope down to the ocean.


Lelehune over the Waikolu Valley.

So late on Thursday afternoon, I decided to investigate some of the trails leading up from the south shore.

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Southern Stars

On Wednesday night, the sky above Moloka‘i cleared out, and I took some pictures from the lānai.

Sagittarius setting in the southwest, with the Great Star Cloud, the Lagoon Nebula (M8). Corona Australis is on the left.


The center of the galaxy.

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A‘ole Nā Malihini ‘Āina - ‘Elua

On Wednesday we took a tour of the island by car, to get our bearings. We headed back through Kaunakakai town and then north to Pala‘au State Park for the Kalaupapa lookout and Phallic Rock. As we turned off the main road and started heading northeast through Kualapu‘u, the road started to steadily rise out of the dry lowlands into mid-altitude woodland, and finally into a higher-altitude ironwood forest a good 1500 feet above the ocean. The spine of the island is located well north of center, so that the south-facing slopes are relatively gentle scrubland. But the north-facing slopes are steep, forbidding, and completely lush from the ocean moisture driven in by the trade winds.

The road dead-ends at the state park - which isn't the kind we're used to in Minnesota. It's more of a wayside rest. We walked out a couple hundred meters to the Kalaupapa lookout for a gorgeous view of the eponymous peninsula.


The Kalaupapa lookout.

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A‘ole Nā Malihini ‘Āina - ‘Ekahi

Moloka‘i is one of the lesser known Hawaiian islands, almost due east of O‘ahu across a 26-mile wide channel. It's billed in all the travel literature as the "Friendly Isle", although I'm not convinced the residents would refer to themselves with such a marketing term! Tuesday before last, we took a vacation within-a-vacation by packing two backpacks and heading out to the airport to get on an interisland commuter flight.


Sunset over Kaunakakai.

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Diamond Head

Diamond Head, or Lē‘ahi, is one of the most well known natural features in Honolulu. It's the remains of an old cinder cone, with a central crater that's not obvious from the ground but shows up great from the air:


Diamond Head from above, looking approximately south. Taken out the window of our plane to Moloka‘i.

Most of the roads you see in the crater are not public - they're actually access roads for a military installation and an FAA installation, except for the bottom right one, which is the beginning of the hiking trail up to the high point visible on the right side. I took this trail the afternoon before we left for Moloka‘i. More photos below.

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Mānoa Falls

Mānoa Falls is a short skip and a hop from my temporary home, up at the end of one of many steep, lush valleys that rise to the north from Honolulu. At the end of the road there's a small parking lot, and then a rocky, wet, slippery trail up another mile or so, maybe less. This morning we biked up and took the hike. Here's a quick sample.


Relaxing along the stream.

More photos below.

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On a White Sandy Beach

We were playing in the sun
We were having so much fun
On a white, sandy beach of Hawai‘i

Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole (iTunes link)

It's less than two weeks until I get on a nonstop, 8½ hour flight from Minneapolis to Honolulu. I've spent a little time working out an itinerary - nothing too complicated to prevent us from relaxing and enjoying things, but enough to get in some unique experiences.

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A Vacation Preview

It's official - plane ticket is purchased! Annie sent me some photos today from Tantalus Drive in the hills above Honolulu.

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