For today, let’s go to the spectacular venue of Hawai’i. To grasp what hiking can be on these islands we have to review their geological origins. They are after all, the remains of volcanic eruptions. This means impressive peaks with spewed rocks rolling down to a crashing surf. Of course that is an oversimplified geology lesson, but for our purpose, it paints an adequate picture. To all this lava rock and ocean, you add an array of flora and fauna that is unrivaled in its density and rich diversity. Finally, throw in some weather. In the course of one hike you can encounter tropical rain and mud, desert heat and sun exposure, mountainous chill and vog. Vog, unique to volcanic areas, is a fog/smog combination formed from volcanic gases colliding with moisture and sunlight. This description is not intended to terrify, and I assume if you are still reading that you believe it is exactly all those factors that will make your hike in Hawaii worth the effort. Simply put, hiking in Hawaii is astounding but requires proper preparation. Any hike requires well considered preparation and Hawaii is no exception.
An interesting thing about hiking in Hawaii is that many of their trails are about a very desirable destination. Many of these destinations are only accessible by hiking. There are wonders to behold every step along the way, but the hiker is actually chasing a vista, waterfall or beach not just adding up miles on his boots. The hiking is usually fairly strenuous in Hawaii and the “destination” hopefully makes it worthwhile, but caution and realistic expectations are necessary.
As you read your Hawaii guidebook you will see that there are plenty of beautiful spots that can be visited from your car, or heaven forbid, a tour bus. There are also many places that are a quick and easy 200 yards of paved path. These are also great destinations but they are consistently crowded with said tour buses and their passengers. Thinking of ourselves as savvy travelers we try to hit these spots on a rest day and seek the road less traveled when we are hiking.
Taking all of this into consideration, let’s look at some examples:
The Captain Cook Monument Trail (Kona Coast on The Big Island)