Hike Through Halawa Valley to Mo’oula Falls

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 1/1100 sec, ISO320
“Mo’oula Falls” Kaunakakai, 2022

Today we did a hike in Halawa Valley to Mo’oula Falls. It’s one of our planned highlights of our vacation and we were really looking forward to it.

But first we needed some breakfast so we headed into town to pick up some goodies and coffee at Kanemitsu’s Bakery and Coffee Shop. The pastries were delicious!

“Kanemitsu’s” Kaunakakai, 2022

The drive to Halawa Valley follows Kamehameha V Highway east for about 26 miles, and is really narrow for the last few miles, with tight turns, so drive slowly and carefully!

We were told to bring some snacks or lunch to eat at Mo’oula Falls so we stopped at Mana’e Goods & Grindz at mile marker 16. They opened at 8am, and we got there right before. Mana’e has a pretty big menu of local food and when we asked the lady taking orders what would be good to take on the hike, she suggested the bento, and wrapped it up securely with plastic wrap so it be okay in our backpack. Thank you Mana’e lady!!!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/3.6, 1/1500 sec, ISO320
“Mana’e Goods n Grindz” Kaunakakai, 2022

We arrived at Halawa Park and met our guide, Greg of Halawa Valley Cultural Tours, who was friendly, funny, informative, and passionate about educating people about Hawaiian culture, and specifically Halawa Valley.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/160 sec, ISO320
“Welcome Gifts” Kaunakakai, 2022

At around 9:30 am, we proceeded on the tour to Greg and his father’s residence where we participated in a welcome ceremony. The whole time, the interesting information kept flowing and we could really feel the value of the tour. It’s well worth the price.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18.8mm, f/2.8, 1/1250 sec, ISO320
“Cultural Hike” Kaunakakai, 2022

The hike up the valley to the falls was not too difficult nor long, but there are a couple of water crossings and your feet will most likely get wet. I suggest some water shoes or hiking sandals. The weather for our hike was perfect, with lots of sun, and a gentle breeze to keep us cool. There were lots of mosquitos, however, which attacked me when we stopped walking for our water breaks, so I recommend bringing mosquito repellant and using it liberally.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 1/850 sec, ISO320
“At the Falls” Kaunakakai, 2022

When we reached the falls, Greg jumped into the 30-foot-deep pool for a swim, and a few of us followed. The water was cold, but not unbearable, and I was able to swim to the base of the waterfall. It was awesome. Make sure to bring a swimsuit!

After that, Mariko and I broke out the bento and had lunch. It was a wonderful experience!

The hike back to Greg’s residence was quick because it was downhill, and there were less breaks and I believe we reached our car at about 3 pm.

I 100% recommend the Halawa Valley Cultural Hike. We expected it to be a highlight of our vacation, and it didn’t disappoint!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park – Day 2

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/10, 1/100 sec, ISO640
“Trailhead” Salt Flat, 2021

Today was the day of the big hike up to the top of Texas. At 8,751 feet (2,667 m), Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in the state, and a popular destination for hiker’s hoping to cross off an item on their bucket list.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/18, 1/480 sec, ISO640
“Mountain Cloud” Salt Flat, 2021

We started on the trail first thing in the morning and reached the peak after about 4.5 hours of leisurely hiking, with plenty of stops for picture-taking and video. It was really nice to take in the incredible views. And the views from the top were stunning. Once again, we were fortunate to have perfect weather, with cool temperatures, light winds, plenty of visibility, and wispy clouds. It was awesome!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 46.3mm, f/22, 1/60 sec, ISO640
“Desert Plant” Salt Flat, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/18, 1/280 sec, ISO640
“Meadow” Salt Flat, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO640
“Bridge” Salt Flat, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO640
“Monument” Salt Flat, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 19.6mm, f/18, 1/1400 sec, ISO640
“Bright Sun” Salt Flat, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 21mm, f/1, 1/200 sec, ISO640
“Cloud” Salt Flat, 2021

After we finished the hike, we enjoyed another nice meal at camp, but unfortunately, the clouds rolled in and the stars weren’t as clearly visible as the previous night. That was fine because we were pretty tired from the hike and climbing into our tents early was just fine. 😀

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/18, 1/100 sec, ISO1600
“Camp Car” Salt Flat, 2021

Here are the Strava tracks in case you are interested!

Milky Way Photos and Hiking Out of the Chisos Mountains

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 25 sec, ISO3200
“Milky Way” Big Bend, 2021

This morning I woke up at 5 am and right outside my tent was the Milky Way. It was awesome! I got out my Fujifilm X-E4 with 18-55 mm lens, put it on the Ultrapod and took a few shots. There were only a few clouds in the sky so the shots looked pretty good, and I even captured a few shooting stars. In fact, with the 30-second exposure, almost every shot had at least one shooting star in it. It was so cool!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/1000 sec, ISO25
“Sunrise” Big Bend, 2021

Soon, the sun made its way into the day, and after a sunrise photo and some coffee, it was time to hit the trail. We hiked Laguna Meadows Trail all the way down to the Chisos Basin, seeing one large bear along the way. It was digging a hole near the trail so we had to scoot past pretty quickly, bear-spray at the ready. Very exciting!

At the end of the hike, I splurged on a Topo Chico and mango ice cream bar before we hit the road. After a couple of hours we arrived at Fort Stockton and had lunch at Pepito’s, where I had a huge burger. It was a good way to satisfy my hiker hunger!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO25
“Refreshments” Big Bend, 2021

Here are a few more photos and the Strava track from the last day of our Big Bend trip. Enjoy!

Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/480 sec, ISO25
“Switchback” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/950 sec, ISO25
“Laguna Meadows Trail” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 1.55mm, f/2.4, 1/5300 sec, ISO25
“Casa Grande” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: Apple iPhone 12 mini, 4.2mm, f/1.6, 1/60 sec, ISO500
“Pepito’s Burger” Fort Stockton, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/2.8, 20 sec, ISO3200
“Triple Shooting Stars” Big Bend, 2021

Hiking the Chisos Mountains

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27.7mm, f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO320
“Hiking to Boot Canyon” Big Bend, 2021

After a strenuous hike yesterday, we were looking forward to an easier day on the trail. But first, we had an early morning visit from some deer as we broke down our campsite and had a quick breakfast. Then we hit the trail and hiked to Boot Springs to see if there was any water flowing from the pipe (there wasn’t).

After a short rest at the cabin, we headed up to the North Rim where we enjoyed the awesome views, eventually making our way to the South Rim 3 campsite, where we’d spend the night. SR3 is an excellent site, with a great view of Mule Ears and Santa Elena Canyon in the distance. It was so cool to watch the changing light on the landscape below.

Here are a few snapshots from today’s hike and campsite, a time-lapse I recorded during our dinner, and also the Strava track:

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 55mm, f/5, 1/30 sec, ISO3200
“Morning Visit” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/200 sec, ISO320
“Fading Light” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/5.6, 1/4000 sec, ISO320
“Sun Through Clouds” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 55mm, f/5.6, 1/1400 sec, ISO320
“Distant Canyon” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/5.6, 1/2700 sec, ISO320
“South Rim View” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO160
“Clouds Over Mexico” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 55mm, f/4, 1/1700 sec, ISO160
“Prickly Pear Bloom” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO320
“South Rim View” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO320
“Shadows Down Below” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/5.6, 1/950 sec, ISO320
“Fire Damage” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/5.6, 1/950 sec, ISO320
“Fire Damage” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 30.2mm, f/6.4, 1/1600 sec, ISO320
“Casa Grande” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/5, 1/30 sec, ISO200
“Morning Sun” Big Bend, 2021

Day One of the Big Bend Backpacking Trip

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/1600 sec, ISO320
“Big Bend” Texas, 2021

Today two friends and I made the trip from Austin out to Big Bend National Park for a few days of camping and backpacking. The drive out was pretty cool, with lots of interesting clouds to take photos of. And when we arrived at the trailhead, the weather was just about perfect. We still had some cloud cover as we made our way from the Chisos Basin up Pinnacles Trail to today’s destination of TM1 (Toll Mountain) campsite.

While on the trail, we came across three black bears. They were looking for food and didn’t mind us taking photos and watching them for a while. It was our first time to see a bear at Big Bend so we were all stoked!

The top of Pinnacles Trail is pretty tough, especially with heavy backpacks, but we made it to the top successfully. It was at the junction of the TM1 campsite, Pinnacles Trail, and Emory Peak Trail that we saw the evidence of the fires that swept through the Chisos. Lots of trees were blackened and burnt, and the smell of burnt wood lingered in the air. Luckily, the campsite was untouched so we were able to set up our tents, cook dinner, and then fall asleep pretty quickly. We were all worn out from the hike, and also the long day of driving.

Here are a few snapshots and Strava data from today. Enjoy!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 28.9mm, f/5.6, 1/680 sec, ISO160
“Distant Rain” Marathon, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/6.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO160
“Circular Cloud” Marathon, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 34.3mm, f/5.6, 1/750 sec, ISO160
“Anvil Cloud” Texas, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 34.3mm, f/5.6, 1/340 sec, ISO320
“Mirror Selfie” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 55mm, f/5, 1/240 sec, ISO160
“Bears” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 55mm, f/4, 1/160 sec, ISO160
“Prickly Pear” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO160
“Burnt” Big Bend, 2021
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 18mm, f/4, 1/30 sec, ISO3200
“Sunset” Big Bend, 2021