Monday, October 31, 2016
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
|Source: NWS Sacramento
This would seem like great news in regards to the drought that has afflicted California since 2011, but such thinking would most definitely be premature. As one can see in the flooding advisory above, the most intense part of this storm is centered right over our area, and other areas may not be receiving as much precipitation. In addition, this storm may not reflect a changed pattern. At least some of the additional moisture was captured from the remnants of a tropical storm, and that sort of thing won't be happening as the winter intensifies. Long range forecasts are not particularly promising for Southern California and the Southwest (below).
Still, there has been rain across the state this week, and I'd rather see rain falling rather than continued dry conditions. It's a start when you can have a fifth of a year's normal rainfall in the bank before November arrives.
Monday, October 24, 2016
|The head of the Sleeping Giant (and a tough short climb)
The story involves the destruction of a portion of the original shield volcano that built up the island. Shields are huge volcanoes with gentle slopes, but they are inherently unstable. As has been noted in some previous posts in this series, huge avalanches sometimes cause portions of the volcano to slide into the sea. On Kaua'i, it appears that a large failure caused the eastern side of the island to subside several thousand feet. This formed the low depression, which was later covered by basalt flows of the Koloa Volcanics.
A decade ago, I climbed Nounou Ridge. A delightful trail climbs the flank of the mountain from a neighborhood above Kapa'a, offering some incredible views across the eastern part of the island.
Nounou Ridge is also called the "Sleeping Giant", and the ridge does indeed resemble a reclining big person. The story goes that a friendly giant help islanders with construction of heiaus and other structures. Celebrations followed, and the giant had too much to eat and grew drowsy and laid down for a nap. A very long nap (we've all been there, right?). I've seen stories that note that islanders started fires behind the ridge to highlight the profile in order to scare off potential invaders sailing in from offshore.
The mountain ridge in the distance in the picture above is Anahola Ridge, which like Nounou is composed of the older Na Pali basalts. If that steep pinnacle looks just a little bit familiar, think back to the memorable opening sequence of "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
The trail is mostly an easy climb to a picnic shelter on top of the "chest" of the giant. If you want to get to the high point, the "chin", you've got a bit of a climb ahead. The route (not exactly a trail anymore) is a scramble with a fair amount of exposure on both sides. I did the climb in ignorance (Read a field guide? Nah...), but I was glad to reach the summit. The view was outstanding.
The full extent of Anahola Ridge was visible off to the north, as well as the low country in between. The ridge is exposed to strong winds blowing off the ocean; note how the trees are bent over in the picture below.
The view to the south reveals Haupu Ridge, the memorable ridge that is viewed by most airplane passengers on the approach to Lihue Airport. The lowlands of the Lihue Depression fill the foreground, as well as the canyon of the Wailua River (Wailua Falls are hidden down there somewhere).
I would have included a shot of Waialeale, but as usual, the wettest mountain on Earth was shrouded in clouds.
"The Hawai'i That Was" is a series on the geology and anthropology of the Hawaiian Islands that explores the nature of the islands prior to colonization and the changes that have taken place since. If the rate of blog posting seems...um...slow lately, well yes, it's been a busy time. Have patience, and we'll finish our trip around the island in no time!
Sunday, October 16, 2016
The islands of Hawai'i are often described as paradise, but the island ecosystem that existed prior to human colonization offered little to assist in the survival of the human species. The plants and animals were highly evolved in their long isolation, and few of the native species were edible to humans.
It's unknown precisely when humans arrived at Hawai'i (perhaps between 300 AD and 1,000 AD), but it is known that those who arrived were probably well-prepared. They arrived on sea-faring canoes outfitted with plants and animals that they would cultivate and raise in the new land. They brought jungle fowl and pigs, breadfruit, coconut, banana, and sugar cane. And they brought taro, which they called kalo. The starchy root of the taro was a staple in their diet as it has been in many other parts of the world.
Successful farming of taro required large amounts of fresh flowing water, which was a problem on the Hawaiian Islands. There are only a handful of rivers of any size on the islands, and so those few were extensively altered to allow the most extensive production. Which brings us to the northern side of Kaua'i, where the Hanalei River is one of the few rivers with a floodplain large enough for kalo production. The beautiful valley is one of the largest kalo growing areas on the islands
part of my continuing series (off and on) about the Hawaiian Islands based on my recent field studies course on the Big Island and Kaua'i. We've been exploring the Hawai'i that once was, compared to the Hawaiian Islands since humans arrived. We're getting close to the end of the story, so I'll be trying to get the job finished in the next couple of weeks.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Monday, October 10, 2016
The exposure is well-known to geologists who explore the region, but even though I've visited the site numerous times, I was struck by not just the folds themselves, but their setting deep in the gorge. Cliffs soar thousands of feet above, and I'm not sure why I haven't included them in the photographs I've taken in the past. It leaves me wondering how this canyon could have been left out of Kings Canyon National Park, whose boundary lies just a few miles upstream. Just downstream, Kings Canyon reaches its greatest depth below Spanish Peak, some 8,012 feet. This is just 19 feet or so short of being the deepest canyon in North America by most reports (some claim Kings Canyon is the deepest).
|Here are the folds from the conventional angle from across the highway.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
|Tule Elk at the San Luis NWR
|Can you see why I took this picture?
|Salt Slough in the San Luis NWR
|Egrets and Sandhill Cranes at the Merced NWR
|Great Egret at the Merced NWR
|Sandhill Crane at the Merced NWR