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2016 Blog

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June 1, 2016

HPA’s Summer Outdoor Program is less than 2 weeks away! We are excited for the 2016 cohort to arrive! Our blog is a great way for friends and family to follow along as our participants adventure across the island and participate in meaningful community service. You’ll also be able to find updates on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hpaoutdoor. In the future students will be writing the blog, but until June 11th, expect a few updates from the trip leaders! Today’s a big day because we are busting out the tents and making sure everything is in working order! Student leader Savannah Cochran is volunteering her time to make sure no tent pole is amiss! It was an epic school year, with many overnights to backcountry and frontcountry spots, so we want to make sure everything is in working order. We also are getting our travel kitchen ready-- cheese graters, cutting boards, pasta strainers... It’s incredible how many things we use in a home kitchen, yet how compact we can make our outdoor travel kitchen! We hope we have some culinary artists in our midst; if not, we are sure some will emerge! Next week we welcome David and Xuan for the first time to Hawaii, and we are so glad Elizabeth will be returning to lead the trip again! Stay tuned for more info!

A hui hou,

Jaime (Program Coordinator) and John (Trip Leader)



June 10, 2016

The trip leaders are finally all together, and already the fun has begun. After meeting up in the airport Wednesday night and heading to John's Condo in Kona, it's been non-stop since then. John demonstrated his culinary skills by making an amazing breakfast of crepes Thursday morning. This bodes well for our teen adventurers! We also enjoyed some of Kona's best spots, taking a short bonding trip to Magic Sands beach before the go-go-go of trip prep began. And of course, we couldn't resist a friendly competition of Apples to Apples before hitting the sack. Today was an excellent and busy day of work for the team leaders, but we still managed to have a blast.

We spent most of the day shopping for amazing food, camping gear, and bikes. We managed to grab a spike ball set to go with bocce ball, so we've got our lawn games covered! The "Travel Library" was also restocked with some new book donations from HPA students. And of course, we made sure our "Game Box" had the latest popular games to add with some old classics--Clue, Pictionary, Exploding Kittens, and so many more! In case anyone was worried, the nights will certainly never be dull. Looks like we are all set to meet our intrepid fellow adventurers tomorrow afternoon! We can't wait to finally get this party started! See you all soon!






June 11, 2016

The 2016 HPA Summer Outdoor Program is off to a great start! Everyone came from their own corner of the world to the HPA campus in Waimea.We kicked off the afternoon by getting to know random interesting facts about each other - here are some fun things we learned:

One of us has never read Harry Potter; another has a photographic memory; someone's favorite geographical feature is a plateau; one loves drawing with Ticonderoga pencils, another goes by "Fig"; someone swims competitively; one is a dog person but only owns cats; someone is great at Apples to Apples (Skills already shown); one is a sprinter; another brought 7 toothbrushes...

We have quite the diverse crew!

We practiced our first Leave No Trace principle "Plan Ahead and Be Prepared" with Xuan by packing the essentials for our upcoming backcountry adventure! Later in the afternoon, we loaded up our trusty yellow bus and headed to Hapuna Beach where the students enjoyed swimming in the ocean and playing frisbee on the beach.Back on campus we continued the fun with lasagna, cookies, and games!Everyone hit the sack early-ish to be ready to explore tomorrow!

For the next two days we will learn hawaiian history and cultural values through kalo farming in the sacred Waipio Valley. On Tuesday, we'll head out on our first big hike past waterfalls and through lush forests to camp for two nights in the remote Waimanu Valley where we will swim under waterfalls, hang out on the beach, and explore Hawaii's natural beauty. We will share tales of our adventure later in the week.

A Hui Hou,

Elizabeth



June 14, 2016

Wow, what an enthusiastic, pleasant, and punctual group we are. Thank you to Sunday's breakfast crew Elizabeth, Lucy, and Ethan for putting out a beautiful spread of cereal and fruit. Sunday morning everyone got up right at 6:30am, had breakfast, and was all packed and ready to go right by 7:30! After a quick drop off of spare gear at the Village Campus, we headed on to meet Auntie Ka'iulani and Uncle Tom at Waipio Valley. Auntie Ka'iulani is a program coordinator with Kanu o ka 'Äina Learning 'Ohana (KALO). The Hālau o Waipiʻo program is a cultural immersion that promotes the teachings of Hawaiian culture past and present, demonstrating traditional lifestyle grounded in mālama and aloha ‘āina. We met at the top of the valley and then needed to hike down into the valley, accessible only by 4 wheel drive. The downhill is brutal on the thighs, but it means fewer visitors in this remote area of the island. Highlights of our stay included setting prawn traps and making spears for a night prawn hunt. We discovered that Annika is definitely our most successful prawn catcher. However, Marisol grabbed them with her hands! Ethan, Steele, Marisol and Matt wrestled the monster “Crawdad”, but it eluded them. Meanwhile, Jackson and Annika went deep into the swamp with Uncle Tom.

We also worked in the taro patch, which is a common crop in Waipio valley. We removed invasive apple snails from the patch in addition to harvesting taro for our feast on Monday night. We had a blast making a huge bonfire in the evening. We had to gather the firewood, which took some effort, but was totally worth it. Matt serenaded us around the bonfire while we roasted marshmallows over the fire. Hayley remarkably knew the words to just about every song. Jackson made some awesome guacamole for our burrito dinner, and Andrew and Steele made some most excellent french toast for breakfast before we commenced our hike into Waimanu. Waipio is a magical spot, but the next valley over--Waimanu--is our next destination.



June 17, 2016

What an amazing first trip to the backcountry! The trek to Waimanu on the Muliwai trail was a grueling one, but we all made it! Despite aching legs, we all enjoyed hiking through the jungle, taking in the beautiful views, helping each other with obstacles on the trail, and even a stopping to swim at a waterfall along the way. The trail is 9 miles long, ascends 1,200 feet initially, then traverses up and down 11 gulches, crosses 13 streams and 2 rivers, and then descends via steep switchbacks into the remote black sand beaches of Waimanu Valley. Everyone was excited when we finally made it to the valley. The campsite was beautiful, nestled between the river and the ocean. Students spent our three days there exploring, swimming in the waves, splashing in the river and even hiking to Wai’ilikahi Falls (1,080 feet). One night, students showed off their humor and talents with performances around the fire. After sharing these experiences, we have definitely started to become one ‘Ohana. While we experienced a bit of rain, spirits were high for our hike out yesterday. Everyone was excited for a warm shower and a bed for the night at the HPA campus. This morning we rewarded our hard work with a delicious breakfast at Hawaiian Style in Waimea. We are excited to head to the beach at Kiholo Bay. Some highlights from our time in Waimanu:

- Prawn breakfast compliments of Drew and his newly made spear - Matt, Annika, and Hayley braving the cascading Wai’ilikahi Falls. - Ethan experiencing the elements through outdoor hammock sleeping - Jackson’s boots self-destructed on the trail and he hiked most of the way soleless - Josh helped relieve Xuan of extra weight in her backpack by taking on the burden of eating her extra snacks - Marisol couldn’t pass up an opportunity to climb any tree with low enough branches to reach – she also spent time enjoying the views from our hammock - Steele sustained himself on Country Time Lemonade and singing Katy Perry - Lucy’s excited about all of the new things she’s tried so far on this trip, and carried almost the whole tent for her group out of Waimanu, not a small task

Overall, it’s been an amazing trip so far. We are now packing our bags to head to Kiholo Bay for a few days on the beach, service projects with The Nature Conservancy, snorkeling with Manta Rays, and then up to Mauna Kea for an epic mountain bike ride and reforestation project. More blogs to come soon!




June 18, 2016

After our backcountry adventure, it was awesome to get to sleep in beds on the HPA campus for one night before we headed to the sandy campsites of Kiholo Bay. Friday morning we even slept in until 8:30. Crazy! We walked over to Hawaiian Style in Waimea and thoroughly gorged ourselves. But the eating didn’t stop there. Ethan’s family invited us over for a light lunch at their home adjacent to the state campsites. It was wonderful to get to spend time in a home! Kiholo is famous for it’s brackish and anchialine ponds, and Ethan’s home has it’s very own pond to swim in. This was definitely a treat for the crew.

Those new to the Big Island were excited to visit the Queen’s Bath for the first time, and those who have been were eager to lead the way. The Queen’s Bath is a lava tube that has filled with water from a spring. The water is freezing, and it gets dark quickly, but braving your way to the very back of the pool is definitely worth it. We walked the coast along the preserve until we hit the ancient fish ponds and a very large lagoon. This is a hot spot for turtles, and we saw tons! After our long hike, Ethan’s family hosted us again, this time for some gourmet lasagna. Ethan’s little sister Olivia is quite the baker. She made these incredible macarons with white chocolates shaped like pineapples on top. And that’s not all. She also made homemade ice cream sandwiches! We are completely stuffed! The crew is happy to be on the Kona coast where it rarely rains and you always are met with spectacular sunsets.



June 19, 2016

Today was a super busy day at Kiholo Bay. We slept in again--this time until 7:00ish-- and then headed over to the fishponds at the north end of Kiholo to work with The Nature Conservancy and other community members. In 2011 the land was donated to The Nature Conservancy because of its ecological and historical significance. TNC is working on restoring Kiholo’s estuary fishponds and the overall health of the ecosystem. Once we arrived at the fishponds, we broke up into a number of groups, as there was lots to be done. Xuan, David, Andrew, and Hayley were quick to pick the job that required some serious muscles. They were removing rocks that had been brought in from the last tsunami and were building a wall around the fish pond. Some rocks were so big they took more than 4 people to move! Matt, Steele, Lucy, Jackson, Josh, Ethan, and Annika had perhaps the least glamorous and hottest job of all--they were removing invasive plants around the pond’s edge. These involved gathering up prickly palms, coconuts inhabited by centipedes and scorpions, and tons of logs and sticks. They then had to carefully haul them via a tarp to a large dumpster to be taken to a recycling center for green waste, or load a "green-waste" raft. Savannah had the awesome job of moving the waste across the lagoon on the large raft. It was tricky, but she was a pro at steering the float. Marisol and Ethan's little sister Olivia looked after the keiki who had come with other community members. They were great with the little kids and kept them busy looking for native hapawai (mollusk) and ʻopae (shrimp), using their nets to catch critters, and carefully watching (and respecting) the slew of sea turtles that hangout in the ponds. The workday ended with an amazing potluck for the 40 volunteers who came out! After lunch Ben Heloca, a master artisan and makaloa weaver, shared some of his work and knowledge of the craft. Makaloa is a native sedge found at Kīholo, which was a prized weaving material used for the ali`i.

If that wasn’t a busy enough day, we heading to Honokohau Harbor where we loaded our vessel for manta ray snorkeling! It was a 20 minute boat ride as the sun set, and it was surprisingly chilly out on the water. The manta rays were pretty unbelievable to see! We saw about 10, and many were almost the size of a car! They came right up to our lights, which attracted the plankton they wanted to eat. It’s amazing that they don’t crash into the snorkelers. It was a cold ride back to the harbor, but luckily we were able to take hot showers at John’s place in Kona, where we also crashed for the night.





June 20, 2016


Today was unpredictable, but still awesome. We arrived at our surf destination of Kahalu’u Bay to meet with Kona Mike’s Surf Adventures, but the ocean was as smooth as a bathtub! There wasn’t a wave in sight! Kona Mike has been awesome and will give us a makeup class early July 2, our departure day! We have such a busy schedule there was no other time to cram it in, but we are glad they are willing to meet us at 7:00am! The down side of a calm day on the ocean is there are no waves to play in, the plus side is that it is a wonderful time to visit End of the World. This is a cliff jumping spot in Kona and is loads of fun, but definitely SHOULD NOT be attempted when there is surf. Given the water was smooth, calm, and clear, it was a great alternative activity for this brave group of kids. After cooling off in the waters, and getting our adrenaline going with epic jumps, the crew hung out a bit in Kona before heading back to Kiholo. We are so lucky the Roses have been so welcoming to the group, as they once again invited us over, this time to watch some basketball--game 7 of the NBA finals! Most of the group was cheering for GSW, but Josh, despite his Californian roots, was bravely cheering for the CAVS (much to Jaime’s--die hard CAVS fan--delight). Ethan was royally bummed, but he's since recovered. Monday is a full day of biking, so it was off to bed early. Nice to enjoy the warm weathers of the Kona Coast before heading up 7,000 feet on Mauna Kea, where just last week there was a dusting of snow at the summit.


June 23, 2016

The first day of our biking trip was filled with tons of excitement and motivation as we familiarize ourselves with our new mode of transportation. The trail had breathless views and thrilling obstacles with steep hills both up and down. We all paid tribute to the mountain with sweat, some of us with blood, but we charged on. After 20 miles of treacherous inclines, life changing declines, and valiant efforts from all, we made it to our bunkhouse. While some of us got settled and patched up our wounds, David, Matt, and Marisol were in the "kitchen" whipping up David's unique pasta with dank sauce. It was just what we all needed after a long day.

A new day dawned as we packed up our gear, again, and mounted our bikes for a 7 mile ride to meet Kala and the rest of the MKFRP (Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project) crew. We carefully navigated the uneven terrain by truck and bike. After setting up camp and some lunch, we set out with HYCC-KUPU crew to plant 250 trees! The clouds formed a divide separating us from life 7,000 feet below. We had a great sunset, and then were quick to bed.

We woke with the sun, ready to work on lowering the fence line to help MKFRP manage wild goat movement. It was a long day of physical work in the field. We worked our bodies to the limit but with positive attitude and enthusiasm. Dinner of stir fry and brownies rejuvenated us though many of us were ready for bed by 9pm. Before we turned in, we did our last pow wow with MKFRP and KUPU-HYCC sharing laughs from the day and exchanging contact information.

Koma and Aaron led us to significant places on the unit and spoke about the importance of their work and the history of the area. We took in the beautiful views of the landscape below us and gulch of the mountain carved many years ago by glacier. Arron then gave us a ride to our bikes and we were on our way once again.

We had 13 miles ahead of us. John kept telling us it's down hill but we were skeptical by the third hill. Many of us gained significant confidence with a few tips and we really embraced our new skill set! Some hills later with passing cows and clouds, we reached our trusty Victoria before we knew it. We headed back to HPA Village Campus for showers, laundry, and gear repacking.

Because we are flexible and things took longer than we anticipated, make your own pizza dinner was done at John's apartment and we had a slumber party with games and singing.




June 25, 2016

Time to visit the wetside! On the way to Hilo we stopped to explore a forest area where we discovered a plant that curls into itself when you touch it, FASCINATING! Before we engaged in a big and intense game of ninja in a local park of Hilo and sampling a variety of mochi, we made a stop at “6 ton bridge” for somme cooling off thrills! We all enjoyed the refreshing water as we sought thrills, swam, and crossed the river to a spectacular waterfall with the ocean backdrop. A few of us braved a slippery traverse through the waterfall tunnel to the other side for a beautiful Ferngully feel.

Friday night we camped oceanside under a bridge in Kolekole. It was peaceful sleeping to the sound of waves and rain on our tents. We dried out our tents the best we could in the morning before packing up and heading back into Hilo for our next challenge and adventure. Our small groups, The Cray Daddies, The Turtles, and The Triple B’s, were tasked to seeking out treats for the family at the farmer’s market with just $20. Each group worked diligently together to find the best treat and the most for their buck. They all returned with scrumptious things to share from spring rolls and lychee, pudding and goat cheese, starfruit and sweet potato mochi, salsa and chips, and other amazing tastes! Just the ticket to send us off on our next community service project: trash pick up at Kaumana Caves. Once again, we split into our small teams and challenged each other to the most amount of trash. Elizabeth and our honorary member, Alohi took the prize title with 3 garbage bags and an old paint bucket full! However, John grabbed the title of most interesting trash with forest green window blinds, medication containers, and an old 8 track!

Victoria Bantam, the newly evolved name for our bus, brought us all safely to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park backcountry office for our permits to hike and camp in Halape. Before we called it a night, we packed our necessary gear for our upcoming adventure and then drove out to see the lava flow. It was like seeing Middle Earth! The activity was spectacular, vibrant and explosive! Truly a sight to see and never forget.



June 28, 2016


Sunday morning we did our last minute things to ensure we were prepared for the next three days, including packing our mostly dried tents that had monopolized the laundry room overnight, and then we were off on our Volcano National Park backpacking trip!! At the trailhead we made our lunches for the hike into Halape while Elizabeth and John shuttle the bus down to the other trailhead where we will be ending. With a revisit in our goals for this trip in how to continue and grow as a positive community and a group photo, the group found the trail on their own and took off like a rocket. Their enthusiasm and excitement was infectious! With a few breaks for bathroom, sunscreen reapplication, snacks and water, and lunch, we reached our majestic destination, Halape, 9 miles and 7 hours later. It has become “second nature” for all the students to go off and find their site and set up their tents. Once that was established, we changed into our suits for a much deserved and refreshing swim in the “pond,” the largest of the many anchialine ponds in the area. Upon returning to camp, some of us napped while some of us did some after hike yoga stretches led by David before dinner, which was the infamous quinoa and veggies with spam. Not quite ready for bed, we played a few rounds of mafia with the voice of humorous reason and creative God aka David before settling for the night.

We woke up with the sun and decorated camp with some birthday splendor for lovely Annika. We then hiked out to Halape iki where we played in the waves, snorkeled, attempted to run under water with a rock, and buried Xuan in the sand. A pit stop at the pond to rinse off the salt and sand was in order as we made our way back to camp for lunch. With a few hours left before needing to hit the trail to Apua Point, some of us packed our gear, some napped, and others read in the shade of the trees. By 2pm we were on the trail headed to our next destination in the blazing sun. We had plenty of sunscreen and enough water to reach our next cistern to refill our water supply for the rest of the 4 mile hike and the next day. We worked together to carry as much water as we could store, 10 gallons in addition to our personal water, across the lava field. It was a great feat that the group achieved triumphantly! Our containers gave us some trouble with some holes and leakage, but it was nothing a little duct tape couldn’t fix.

Again, at Apua Point we set up their tents and found our resting place as the cooks made dinner. Honoring one of Annika’s birthday wishes for a moment of togetherness, before dinner we had a chow circle where we shared our appreciations about the trip and for each other, sang happy birthday to wonderful Annika, and passed the pulse.

Ben and Dan treated us with the research knowledge on Hawksbill Sea turtles! We learned some interesting facts in identifying them: their scoots overlap, they have 4 prefrontal scales and “walk”/waddle with an alternating gait. On our walk back to camp, we were on the lookout for turtle tracks with no luck. Exhausted from the day, we all settled in for the night shortly after the presentation. We also had an early rise in the morning to beat the sun on our 6 mile hike to the bus.

Everyone was on point in the morning. Wake up, pack, eat breakfast, break down camp, fill water, last minute first aid and we were off, once again. We made impeccable time to the trailhead; 3 hours! On our way to Punalu’u to camp for the night, we made a quick stop at the visitor’s center to use the bathrooms (yay flushing toilets!) and had lunch at the pavilion outside of Punalu’u bakery, where we were treated to dessert. This crew has become pros! Once arriving at our campground, we grabbed our gear and set up camp. Some of us swam in the ocean, a few of us went to see the turtles, and some took naps. Many of us took over the pavilion with our hammocks, card games, and Matt’s music. Dinner was delectable quesadillas.



July 1, 2016


A leaf blower and other staff of the grounds cleaning the space deflated our hopes of sleeping in on Wednesday morning. We saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of Green Sands before it became crowded. The hike was choose your own adventure of orange dust. By the time we reached the beach, we looked like we had just walked off the set of Willy Wonka. The waves were unforgiving and we embraced it with smiles and joy as we swam, played in the waves and body surfed. Stomachs started to grumble and we knew it was time for lunch. With a hearty lunch of sandwiches, we chose our own adventure back to Victoria SUPER Bantam for another epic thrill, South Point! This is another site for cliff jumping. This one is particularly fun because we can do it as a group! It was an infinite moment in time with the group support and excitement with and for each other. Feeling refreshed and revived from the hot sun, we were off to Ho’okena to camp for the next two nights. Like pros, we quickly set up camp, for the last time. We settled in, found some snacks, played card games, investigated some tide pools, swam in the ocean, and even showered!

Sleeping in a little more than we did the morning before was much needed and incredibly nice. With a slower but efficient morning, many of us took the opportunity to read, write letters, play games and truly get along like family. A day of adventure awaited us as we prepared for it with long pants and closed-toe shoes for cave exploration/spelunking at Kula Kai Caverns and bathing suits and towels for snorkeling at Honaunau Bay, and of course plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen.

The caverns were truly fascinating as our guides told us the history of their creation. We explored for nearly two hours in two separate groups: a more relaxed walk through group and a group that would need to crawl more. We are very proud of a member of our group who pushed and conquered his fear of caves and being in confined spaces for those two hours.

Sandwiches was on the menu for lunch and after we had our fill we hopped onto Victoria SUPER Bantam to cool off at Honaunau Bay with some snorkeling to see some amazing, vibrant and beautiful fish and corals! But first... Shaved ice! At a little green shack on the way and we nearly cleaned them out of ice. Snorkeling left us craving David’s infamous dank sauce and we headed back to camp for exactly that. We spent our last night roasting marshmallows and making smores over our camp stove before turning in for the night. We had an early morning for kayaking at Kealakekua Bay (Captain Cook’s landing spot) It was an early rise in order to pack up camp and be on the road to meet Rufus for our kayaks. Embracing our sea legs and pirate side, we formed alliances as we paddled out to our snorkeling spot. There was also a sweet rock to jump from. It was truly a relaxing and fun adventure. We drove to John’s place to organize our gear with some Backstreet Boys before getting ready for the house blessing at the Roses, an awesome last night activity for the crew.

We can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks, but it has! Thanks so much for the amazing memories and new Ohana.


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