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Adventure at 6000′ Elevation: Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

October 16, 2010

US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 10-16: National Wildlife Refuges are dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats. The nation’s 552 national wildlife refuges and 37 wetland management districts also offer a wide range of wildlife-dependent recreation — from fishing, boating, hunting and hiking to wildlife observation and photography, nature interpretation and environmental education.

The Flickr slide show at the end of the post will tell most of the story of our trek to the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Reserve for the 17th annual Open House and the Reserve’s 25th anniversary, but, for those who may go visit in the future, here are two things you might want to know before you go:

Keanakolu Rd 2

Keanakolu Road (aka Mana Road)

The Road to Pua Akala Barn

The road to the Pua Akala Barn really is pretty bumpy. It’s an approximately 1o.5 mile drive from the Mauna Kea Summit Road. We drove in at about 12:30 pm and had a nice break in the weather (we weren’t so lucky on Saddle Road–it rained most of the way from Hilo and back home).

On the way up, we were driving about 25-30 mph. On the way down later in the day, however, it was a different story. The mist, dust and caravan of cars leaving the Refuge at 3 pm made the descent a touch nerve-wracking. Otherwise, getting there and back wasn’t the ordeal I was expecting. As a matter of fact, I loved the drive there–no one else on the road (except for a few early-risers leaving the Reserve) so I had a chance to have a little fun in my Jeep!

Bird Hikes sign

Starting to the cabin to meet the guides

Downhill Becomes Uphill

After checking in with the staff at the Pua Akala Barn, we headed off on a short hike to see if we could catch up with one of the guides. Because we arrived a little late in the day, we did pass a few groups heading back toward the small cabin where the guides were beginning their talks, but we opted to wander down the road a bit on our own (we’ll go back again for the official tour).

It’s important to remember that, at 6,000 ft elevation, walking downhill is easy. Going back up can be a bit of a challenge. After we turned around and started back, we passed a few people who were stopping to sit and catch their breath. One gentleman was complaining of being dizzy. So, be sure to pace yourself for the walk back–the initial downhill walk may be a bit deceiving.

Hakalau NWR Slide Show on Flickr

This slide show has 29 photos that I took with my Droid camera. Nothing fancy, but it will give you a good sense of what our afternoon was like. We were lucky to get a break in the rain on the way up. Most of the photos were taken in mist or, later in the day, a light shower. In spite of the rain, it was a beautiful afternoon. We’ll go back again when we have a chance. There’s a lot more to learn!

(Be sure to take a look at the old Koa cabin in the photos–the guide who showed us around mentioned that it was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in August 2008, but she wasn’t sure of the progress. If anyone knows, please update us in the comments!)

Almost forgot… one of the photographers we met recommended checking out Jack Jeffrey (the “Bird Man of Hakalau”)’s website for photos of Hakalau birds!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Julie Ziemelis permalink
    October 16, 2010 9:56 pm

    This is soooo needed right now! We are looking for new places to explore and this looks perfect! Thanks for posting!


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