A little fun in Hawai'i--exploring's the US's southern most point

A little fun in Hawai’i–exploring’s the US’s southern most point

Aloha and welcome to part four of my journey through analyzing the material flows for biofuels production in Ka’u, Hawaii. Friday wrapped up our formal interviews on the Island although we still have many phone calls to make and many charts to create.

We started Friday as bright and early as we had planned. Lynette aptly navigated the unlit roads – many unpaved – down to the southern-most point of the United States. We parked a few hundred yards north of the Point because we wanted to hike to Green Sands Beach first to catch the sunrise. The hike was on an uneven path that might have once been used for four-wheeling. It was both rocky and sandy, and our hiking boots stained yellow in the fine soils. At first I did not think that we were in the right place. There were no signs posted for the Beach and we were the only hikers – or humans, for that matter – in sight. The gravel and dirt paths were yellow, orange, red, black, but not green. We continued forward, though, hugging the coastline.

At one point Angelo shouted, “whales breaching!” He was right – we saw water spewing from a blowhole and then a massive humpback whale stood straight up. The whale made its movement look effortless, almost lazy. We stopped and watched for a few minutes and the whale continued to breach. It probably breached few dozen times during our hike! I thought that it was a sign for us to keep trekking.

After about an hour of hiking Lynette spotted a jet-black cliff in the distance. It was the landmark for the Green Sands Beach! Our fatigued pace picked up and we hiked toward the cliff as the sun rose through cumulus clouds. The Beach comprised a small bay – it was formed from olivine and is deep green mixed with smaller proportions of black and white and red sands. Even at 7:00 in the morning we had worked up a good sweat from the hike, and Jeff jumped in the water. I followed suit and then tried out a few sun salutations in the green sand. Lynette climbed part of the cliff and Angelo captured our exhilaration with his camera (all pictures in today’s posting are courtesy of Angelo Lan!).

After Green Sands we made a quick stop at South Point. I imagined how French Polynesian canoes stopped down here and first saw this island. The lava flows and the cliffs must have been formidable. Perhaps they, too, took refuge in the olivine sands.

Don’t worry – yesterday was not all play and no work! After our hike we met with a local conservationist from The Nature Conservancy. He told us about another use for the Ka’u land, namely, ecosystem-based services as a service. Homemade dinner featuring organic local produce included discussions with a local environmental lawyer, and with Julia Neal, our host in Ka’u on the Olson Land Trust. It was a great way to wind down the trip.

Stay tuned for more posts as our project takes shape on paper!