Tag Archives: Hiking

Skywatch Friday – Fall is Falling

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My wife’s cousin’s wife, Cheri Lou took this photo at the ranch in western Oklahoma. I love the rolling hills, grassy rangelands, and the big skies out there. The people are great also.

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Where we live in northeastern Oklahoma is more forest land and a lot wetter. Son Logan and I went on a little jaunt at Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center. Lots of wildlife in Oxley. Lots of water also and it is right underneath the main approaches to our local airport and is right next to the police gun range so it can get kind of noisy but I love it.

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There are several sizeable lakes and ponds and it is known as a good birding site. I love birds but I don’t have the patience to put in the work.

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Here you go, any photoblogger worth his salt has the obligatory first red leaf of Autumn. I think this might be my first red leaf ever.

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This gave me a start! Don’t worry, it is a rubber snake placed near a geocache. At least I think it was near a geocache. I looked for it and didn’t find it. I lifted a rock and found me a real snake. Just a tiny little garter snake but I decided, enough is enough.

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Saturday I had some time so I went looking for some urban caches in Tulsa. Found one near the Saba Grotto. I think it has some relation to the Masons. There were a few instagram pics with Saba Grotto. it looks like a big man cave. They have a pretty active facebook page and they seem to have all sorts of benefits and events. Who would have thought? Stuff like that intrigues me. People don’t seem to join clubs any longer. They belong to “affinity groups” where they do people who have similar interests but is a lot looser. Anyway, one reason I love geocaching is that I find new places and learn new things.

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Another cache I found was on a freeway interchange. Talk about hiding something in plain sight. Lots of cars whizzing by while I figured out where the cache was.

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I am still training for the Tulsa Run 15K the last weekend of this month. Last week I ran 9 miles after work and I actually felt pretty good. Cooler weather and a hydration vest works wonders. I had already signed up for the race and went ahead and signed up for the Route 66 Half Marathon in November. This weekend I am running 11 miles on Sunday morning. At least that is my plan. Check back later. Plans change.

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A side benefit is running is the opportunity to take photographs. A great deal of my running (and a great deal of my photos) are along the Arkansas River. Tulsa really is a beautiful town. Of course I love the gritty west side of Tulsa where all the industry and refineries are.

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In the Fall the skies get a lot more interesting. This is a sunset photo looking east with my back to the sun.

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I’ll finish up with a selfie with a combuster at a waste treatment plant on the river. I was halfway on my nine mile run and I was really happy with how good I felt. Cooler weather, a hydration vest, and Metallica on the earbuds works wonders. That is about as big a smile as you will ever get out of me.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – A Family Walk at Oxley Nature Center

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Last Friday the family decided to go for walk at Tulsa’s Mary K. Oxley Nature Center. One of the best kept secrets in Tulsa. Acres and acres of trails, woods, marsh, lakes, and meadows and hardly anybody ever visits it.

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Well somebody had been visiting. We saw a few of these in the park but they didn’t look like they had been used.

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I love the big and small ponds, lakes, and streams on the property.

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It looked like some beavers had been hard at work.

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A sign needs either replacing or fetched.

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A nice surprise were some pelicans. They were cruising about. The geese seemed a little put off their visitors.

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Heather taking in the view near the photo blind.

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Yep, I’m a lucky guy is what I think.

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Heather and our gentle giant of a son, Logan checking out some storm damage from last year.

And here is our route. About 3 miles and a good mix of woods, open land, and water. We saw nobody else during our three miles.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday this week.

Shadow Shot Sunday – New Years Eve Walk at Ray Harral Nature Park

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Logan and I went for a little hike on New Years Eve. He had his wisdom teeth taken out a few days ago and he was supposed to be quiet but by NYE both he and I were pretty owly and needed some fresh air and walking time. I have a hard to shake sinus infection and so I haven’t been doing much either.

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So off he went!! He isn’t into running much but he was pretty restless. We went to Ray Harral Nature Park in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa. I kind of like it. It has lots of trails and not very many people. By planning your route you can get a couple miles in by varying the loops available.

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The woods were grey but I did find a cardinal hiding from me in the shadows for a bit of red.

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I finally catching up with the kid. There is something about pedestrian bridges that I love. I alos feel compelled to tilt the camera. For some reason it seems more interesting.

How about you? What do you tilt the camera for?

I’m linking with Shadow Shot Sunday today.

I wish everybody a Happy and Prosperous New Year!!

Our World Tuesday – Oxley North Woods Loop Trek

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Saturday I went for a walk at Oxley Nature Center‘s North Woods. I love it there because it is remote, off the beaten path, and I rarely see anybody.

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I especially like it when it is windy because there is enough trees and brush to block the wind. It is near still at the ground and I love the sound of the wind in the tops of the trees.

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The trails are well kept. This time of year there is a thick matt of dried leaves that announces your presence as you walk along and sends the big and small critters scurrying.

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I started in late afternoon and the low sun made all the leaves radiant with color.

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There is something about a bench on a trail overlooking a creek that is restful without even sitting on it.

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The woods loom over parts of the trails. I call these tree tunnels.

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I love the color of some of the oak leaves.

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Another tree tunnel.

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The sun is getting low. Heading across my favorite boardwalk. There is a geocache here that took me three years to find. And one day I saw it without looking for it.

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Headed back to the car and saw these two critters. We watched each other for a while. I would move up twenty paces and wait twenty seconds, and then move up another twenty paces and so on. They got tired of my game and scampered off.

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A little bit further I found this single deer. She played my game and let me get a little closer before she turned on her heel and left.

I didn’t set any speed records but I had a good time. Didn’t see anybody else. I wasn’t looking for anybody either.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday 

Twenty Four Hours in Osage County

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Those of you who know me, know that I’m a Geocacher. The Tulsa Area Geocachers have an annual event in the Fall that they have at various State Parks in Oklahoma and this year they went to one of my favorite spots in Oklahoma, Osage Hills State Park up in Osage County. It is a beautiful wooded, hilly location with lots of camping spots and a friendly accommodating staff.

Heather and Logan stayed home. They hate geocaching. Hate might be too mild a word for their feelings about it. So I went by myself.

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So it was fun finding the various temporary caches placed by the participants. Some of the people are diabolically clever.

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Osage Hills is known for having the remnants of a Civilian Conservation Commission camp built back in the 1930’s to house young men who helped build the facilities still used at the park.

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Here is a link to an interesting short blog post about the history of the CCC at Osage Hills. I learned that the camp was active from 1935 to 1941. Its amazing that so much remains 75 years after the camp ceased operation.

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Mainly I wandered the trails. I didn’t encounter many other geocachers as I started with the furthest removed caches and worked back and was more interested in taking pictures anyway.

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I found the camp dynamite hut. It looks solid enough still, except for the roof.

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I loved Lookout Lake. No geocachers here, just fishermen.

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Found me a little critter. He told me he wasn’t a geocache.

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The next day I got up early and went out to Sand Creek to take some photos. One of the prettist places in the state as far as I am concerned.

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And then I drove out to the nearby Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. I always love the wide open spaces with rolling hills and the bison.

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I’ve never been able to photograph the feeling of exapanse of this place. It is almost 40,000 acres.

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It is huge and goes on forever.

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And then I drove down to Woolaroc, Frank Phillips’ (of Phillips Petroleum) country place. Woolaroc is an acronym for “Woods, Lakes,and Rocks”. He has a first class western art museum, a buffalo herd, and all sorts of other stuff that an oil gazillionaire needs.

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And a barn for the the critters.  I love the barn.

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And the landscaping (rockscaping).

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And the Native American design motif. I know its cultural misappropriation but I still like it.

And then I went home.  But I had a great time.

Labor Day Weekend

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Well I didn’t get any labor done this weekend. The yard needs mowed, the bills need paid, and a few other things need attending but we took it easy. We spent a lot of time at Nana’s house with relatives both in town and out of town. We all got a little sunburned but we had a good time. It’s great to reconnect with people and see what is happening with them. Plus I get to take lots of photos and use my bag of special effects on them if they irritate me.

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Me and the kid went on a little hike in the north Woods section of Oxley Nature Center. A beautiful area and I have only seen two other people on those trails in all the years I’ve been hiking them.

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The view from the back of the pack

Monday morning I ran a fairly small 5K put on a by a local church, the Run to the Son 5K. A great event that I loved more because I finished 3rd in my age group and got a medal (out of six if you must know).

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It was a Baptist Church that put it on and I violated my oath to never run in anything but beer runs. I’ve amended the rule to include great pancakes instead of beer. Flexibility is my middle name.

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New Beginnings – Logan Starts College Today

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We were trying to figure out what to do Sunday when Logan announced that he would like to go hiking on Turkey Mountain.  It only took a few microseconds for the words to hit my ear and my response didn’t even go to my brain “Lets go!” I said.

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It was a change for Logan. He has a couple of other big changes coming up. For one he is starting college today at a local community college. He is starting part time. So we are not photographing decorated dorm rooms and new room mates and all that. We are starting kind of slow to see how it goes and get him used to it and he’ll live at home.

Not everybody of course goes “off” to college. I graduated from high school in Albuquerque and went to the University of New Mexico and stayed at home. Suited me!! I went off to the Permian Basin of west Texas to work as a roustabout in the oilfields during the summer. I loved the work but I loved getting home also. I think Logan is a home body also. Eventually he want to get a job and get a place of his own. Hopefully not too far away.

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We found someone camping illegally on the Mountain

The other change for Logan is that he is starting a work skills class at Goodwill Inc sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitative Services (“DRS”). Its going to be several hours a day and they are going to learn about all the various things a person has to know in order to have a job. We have been very impressed with both Goodwill and DRS. They are very nice people and we think this will be great for Logan. It will be in a small group type environment and they will all learn together. 

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Anyways say a small prayer if you would for our son as he starts this new things in his life. He is very nervous about it.

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go…”

Joshua 1:9

Our World Tuesday – Checking Out Chandler Park

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Sunday I decided to explore a new area with Logan. It is the land west west of Chandler Park is far northwest Tulsa. I was inspired by the facebook posts of TrailZombie Ken who is my guide pretty much for anything having to do with trails and trailrunning in Oklahoma. 

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We start out at the very southwest end of Chandler Park and cross the gate and head down the road. The first thing you run into is this sign. This is the Compass Industries Landfill EPA Superfund Site. A gazillion dollars was spent cleaning up “…620,000 cubic yards of solid, liquid and sludge wastes, including acids, caustics, solvents and potentially carcinogenic materials” in a former limestone quarry.  The cleanup was paid for by the polluters themselves but all that stopped in 1995 and now we taxpayers get to pay for cleanups. I guess because it is unfair to ask the polluters to pay the expenses. It might cut into their campaign contributions budget or something.

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We go a little further and we find the that the fence has been breached in a major way. I wonder what kind of morons trespass out there on a regular basis?

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Shortly thereafter the trail gets away from the site and continues on west. We only saw one other person during our outing. Turkey Mountain is great but on nice weekends some of the main trails get crowded and Logan doesn’t like the constant bikers coming up behind us. No traffic problems at Chandler Park, yet.

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And then it got a little rocky and I spent 40 fruitless minutes looking for a geocache and we continued our trek until the trail looped around to Avery drive.

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We took a little break and then decided to head back on a different route.

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If it looks steep, it is.

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Just ask Logan, he’ll tell you.

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We got into some of rock formations that make Chandler popular with the local bouldering and climbing enthusiasts. We are not into any of that.

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Logan took a picture of the old man in full nerd regalia standing on a rock.

So it was a nice easy out and back introduction. I can see when daylight savings time returns that I’ll be coming out here some to do my Wednesday night runs. The area is lots bigger than Turkey Mountain but literally about 1% as many people. I’ll be learning the trails and looking forward to it.

Timely column today in the Tulsa World: Do we even need Chandler Park? I say yes!!

Have you been anywhere new lately?

Linking with Our World Tuesday

Oxley Nature Center – A Great Alternative to Turkey Mountain

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Heather and I wanted to go hiking on a warm sunny Winter afternoon and we decided to on the north side of Tulsa to Oxley Nature Center to avoid the crowds that show up at Turkey Mountain on nice days. The successful fight to save Turkey Mountain from developers really aroused the public’s interest in the park and I’m happy that so many people love it but there are other parks in Tulsa to go and hike, run, bike, and whatever you want outside with a lot less people. Where you can get a little elbow room and hunt for a parking space.

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Oxley, adjacent to the also hikeable Mohawk Park is a little more structured and has a interpretive center with staff to help you with planning your hike. And it has hours of operation and such but if you just want to show up and hike or run, just park and do what you want. Check the link for hours of operation, maps, and such.

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So on a day where Turkey Mountain was a little crowded (only at the parking lot, you get a quarter mile from the parking lot and the crowd are diminished considerably) Heather and I found a hiking spot and took off on a circuitous route. Sure we saw other people but just every now and then.

So don’t let crowded parking lots deter you from spending time outside.

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We say several deer right close to the parking lot. I haven’t seen a deer on Turkey Mountain in years.

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So we were just moseying along at a leisurely pace. Our son is on a school trip to Breckenridge and of course we stopped every time he texted us.

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And we had a great time. Over four miles all in all.

As far as what was going on in Breckenridge, here is a selection of some of the pics Logan sent Heather.

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This was from the bus ride as they were getting close to town.

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The condo they are staying in and reportedly doing lots of “hanging out” and “relaxing” when we ask him what he is doing.

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And it sounds like there is an ice sculpting contest or exhibition going on so this is one of the sculptures.

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And this has something to do with dragons. Anyways we miss the boy and are glad to be able to hear from him.

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Hiking the Twin Falls Trail on Maui

On our recent vacation to Hawaii one of our stops was the island of Maui. Maui was kind of frustrating. We signed up for a couple of excursions and neither one of them turned out the way we planned. We signed up for a snorkeling excursion that was scrubbed because of fuel pump problems with the boat that was supposed to take us but that may have been a good thing the locals told us because swells were kind of high and it would not have been a pleasant boat ride. So, okay plus we booked the excursion through the ship so they refunded everything 100%. I think we may have dodged a bullet, more to come on that in a later post.

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Brave smiles in the rain waiting for the hike to start.

The other excursion, we didn’t go through the ship, we signed up online through “Hike Maui” a local Maui outfit that does excursions independent of the ship but that coordinates the timing of some of their excursions with the schedule of the ship’s coming and goings. Well we signed up way ahead of time and the way it is that there are no refunds. The trouble was that after we signed up, Logan badly sprained his ankle and had to wear a big ole “boot.” A medieval torture contraption updated with hard plastic and numerous velcro straps.

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Pineapple growing wild. I thought indeed that was wild.

So anyway we thought we would go to the pickup spot at the designated time and talk to the guide. He looked pretty hesitant and talked about how muddy it would be and the rocks, boulders, and roots we would encounter and that we would have to walk through water a lot and climb and that we need to think of this as more of an adventure hike because it definitely a walk through a city park. Of course the more he talked about how tough it is the more I wanted to go. He capped it off by saying that if it were him, he would not go. Oh. So Heather said, Alan you go, we’ll stay here. I was reluctant but I got on the van.

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I forget what kind of berries these are but loved the color.

And then the guide went and talked to Heather and Logan some more then next thing I knew they got on the van also. The plan was that the guide thought there would be a couple of waterfalls that they could go to without going the rest of the trip. So off we went

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Heather and Logan going through the gate. The last I saw of them for hours and hours.

It seemed it was about a half hour drive or so to the parking lot through a lot of interesting landscape. Lots of cane sugar fields and other things to see. Our guide a very engaging young man gave us a running commentary of everything we saw. He talked about the heavy environmental cost of cane sugar growing and a lot of the natural history of area and good restaurants and bars to try. He was definitely environmentally minded and had a lot of insights.

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Did I mention that it was raining. Raining a lot.

We got to the parking lot and it started raining. Not too hard but pretty steady, the kind of steady that tells you that is not going to quit any time soon. We got out of the van and he passed out the lunches for later and off we went. He stopped quite often to point out a tree a tree, bush, or plant and explain what it was, whether it was indigenous to the island or where it came from.  He was a walking encyclopedia of plants. Many of them were edible and we’d try them. After a short while he pointed Heather and Logan to a gate and said that where they needed to go was that way.

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Old guys don’t bend down very well. This was a head bumper for me.

Right after Heather and Logan split off we entered the above kind of obstacle. There is no way that Logan could have done that with his bum ankle. I started worrying right away about them two because we were going to be gone for about three more hours and that is a long time to wait in the rain.

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But as we pressed on ahead we rain into a canal. Maui’s extensive canal system was installed starting in the 1870’s by the sugar can growers of the central valley to move water from the windward side of Maui where there is lots of rain to the valley where it is arid. It is an engineering marvel but very controversial locally. It was basically built by hand. It is known as the “East Maui Irrigation System.” I thought the whole thing is fascinating. The sugar industry dominated Hawaii for over a 100 years but no longer with the rise of international business and corn syrup sugar cane is a dying industry.

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See those rocks? They are pretty darn slick.

Anyways we journeyed on sometimes walking on two track roads or single track paths and often up streams like this. Those dang rocks were often pretty slippery and again I was glad Logan was along because that would not have worked out.  Our hike took us to five waterfalls and they were all beautiful. In some the water was deep enough for people to dive in. The scene was all very exotic for this guy from Oklahoma.

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We walked right up the stream for some of the way. It was not a sandy bottom either. It was those darned slick rocks.

The owners of the land leave the trails open to public which is exceedingly generous. There are no signs though and the trails are maze. I wouldn’t attempt to hike this without a guide unless I knew where I was going because it would be easy to get lost. Besides our guide kept up a walking commentary on everything we saw.

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Fallen trees and roots. I liked them better than the rocks.

More of the trails. It was a lot of hard work. Somewhere along here, or actually before this I lost my eyeglasses. That’s right I suddenly noticed they were gone and even though I backtracked a ways I couldn’t find them. Oh well.

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Hiking along the canal system. The sporting people got in the canal and went through the tunnel walking in the canal. I took the path the left around the tunnel.

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Another one of the waterfalls and pools. These are such a treasure and again very generous of the landowners to allow people to see them. No admission charge or anything.

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Another waterfall. I don’t think that it was this one but at one of them, a girl in another group showed up with one of those thong or g-string bikinis with her butt just out there for everybody to see, women, men, children everybody got a view whether they wanted to or not. I guess she was proud of it or something. Generally at these pools there was a lot of talking going on but everybody stopped talking while she paraded around. Our guide had a look of “seriously girl” on his face. I generally feel free to take a picture of everything I see in a public place but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m not a prude but “seriously girl?” is my attitude also. Of course maybe I am a prude. Later on in the trip on the island of Kauai I saw mothers of young children wearing the same type suit. Or lack of suit.

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And this was the next to last pool of the day, Twin Falls right by the road. By this time I was really concerned about Heather and Logan because the rain was still falling and there wasn’t any shelter. Still no bars on the cell phone, and no sign of them and this was where they were supposed to be hanging out.

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So I walked around and around and talked to people. Suddenly my cell phone found a bar up popped a some text’s. They were already back at the ship. With the rocks and stuff Logan could’t get down to the pond he supposed to go to so they went back to the parking lot and got a ride home from the same guide service but a different guide. I should have known that Heather was resourceful.

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Again, no idea what it is except that it is colorful.

So I was able to relax a little bit.

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The last pool of the day. The guide was talking about how almost everybody misses it even though it is right by the parking lot. Like I said, one can hike these trails by themselves but you will miss a lot. The trails are a maze and it is easy to get turned around. While I was looking for my crew some lady stopped me in the parking lot and told me should couldn’t find any of the falls even though she could hear the river. I pointed her down the trail to this pool. I hope that she made it.

All in all it was quite an adventure we had a great guide that paced things to make sure that everybody was keeping up, pointed out a lot of the local natural history to us and made things very interesting. I would recommend Hike Maui to anybody except I would say that this particular hike is a lot more strenuous than what they put on their web site. If I were to do it over again I would bring along some sturdy hiking sandals or something that could get soaked and muddy and cleaned off as well along with some tech clothes to wear in the rain because cotton is not what is needed.

Or if you want to go hike it yourself here is a map. Just look for the Twin Falls fruit stand on the road to Hana about thirty minutes or so east of Kahului, the major town in Maui.