Nowadays.. an adventure is never complete without a little proof [with the exception of super epic adventures you don't want people to know about.. hehe.] I don't usually shoot a lot of video [mostly because I never get around to editing anything] but thought it would be kind of fun to put together a little sumthin' sumthin'.
And I've actually never shot video/photos of myself surfing with a camera attached to the nose of my board before. It's been done a million times.. but now that I have the FLIR FX camera it was easy for me to try it out. Kind of weird to see yourself from that perspective. I really gotta work on my stiff arms. Haha.
I still trip out on this company and the camera's they produce. I mean, my little project with them is peanuts compared to the kinds of badass things other people are doing with their cameras. Firefighters use them for goodness sakes! You should check out all the FLIR camera systems. No joke. They didn't pay me to say that. I only recently checked it out.. and dang! They've got all these crazy thermal and infrared cameras for gnarly activities. Not your average day at the beach. Hah. But I'm happy to break into surfing [because you can use it in the water with the new sports water case!]
Chasing Waves.. in motion.
When my man and I planned a trip back to the Big Island it was centered around going to one of the valleys on the North Kohala Coast. We original planned to hike/kayak into the valley, camp all weekend, and test out our new FLIR FX camera. Little did we know a tropical storm was on its way. So rather than trek into the valley with the potential of being rained on all weekend, we decided to search for waves instead.
Not the same as planned out trek but definitely just as adventurous [and much more spontaneous!]
I don't typically surf big waves [I prefer small, glassy days that are suited for trimming and nose-riding.] But the boys do. So whenever there is swell I like to tag along for the adventure. We hit up three different surf zones on three different parts of the island on three different days. All on a quest to find the best waves. I would tell you where we went but you're going to have to guess for yourself. If you know, you know. That's what makes the Big Island so special.
Personally, I love the process of getting there and documenting each journey from my perspective. It doesn't really matter how good the waves are, just as long as I get to capture the story behind the journey.
And in that photographic process, I've been trying out this new action camera [also used as a security camera.. score! Two for one!] with the waterproof casing.It has a crazy good battery life and the images have been turning out pretty dang good for being a small camera! I usually shoot with my regular DSLR and water housing but decided to take this little camera out for a spin too. Unlike other cameras, it can take long, continuous video without shutting down or dying. The buggah has a 4-hour battery life! I mounted the little housing on my longboard and recorded an entire surf session without any problems [and I swear having a camera mounted on the nose of your board motivates you to surf better.. and get to the nose a lot better too!]
I think having a small, packable action camera like the FLIR FX is pretty necessary nowadays. For adventures, hiking, camping trips, traveling, and anything else that requires a lot of moving, its the perfect little gadget. It's an easy and efficient way to document a trip without dealing with bulky camera gear. And having waterproof capabilities is pretty key. The fact that I can take it in the water when the waves are big and only have to worry about getting pounded.
By the end of our "surf" trip, I was fried. I am not lying when I say I had sunburn on my sunburn. But it was all worth it. We surfed everyday, went on a couple hiking/surf missions, went down to the valley for the day, and all had our fair share of waves. It has probably been one of the most adventurous trips I've been on the Big Island in a very long time. And thanks to my new gadget, I have the photos and video to prove it!
Chasing Waves. Big or Small.
*[There are few features on the FLIR FX that I didn't get to try out while we were out adventuring but cannot wait to use at home. The FLIR FX was originally designed as a security camera, has night vision [Yes, night vision. How cool is that??], continuous shooting, and Wifi capabilities. You can access the footage on your camera, from your phone, miles and miles away. I cannot wait to mount it in our living room and spy on our dog while we're gone. Hehe.]
Photos by Tyler Rock + Jensen Young Sik + Me
I finally had a chance to go through my photos and relive one of the best girls trips. Ever. After Shadi and I got back from South America we met up with our other girlfriends in California, packed up the van, and headed to Arizona. It took us 9+ hours to get to Northern Arizona from Los Angeles [thanks rush hour!!] It was brutal but worth it.
So, here is the lowdown on the hike.
GETTING THERE: The trailhead starts at Hualapai Hilltop. It is situated at the end of Indian Road 18 and 65 miles north of Route 66. It takes approximately 3-4 hours from Flagstaff, Arizona and 5-6 hours from Phoenix, Arizona.
HIKING DISTANCE [Hualapai to campground]: 20 miles/round-trip
HIKING TIME: Approximately 3-4 hours
SUGGESTED STAY: 3 days/2 nights
Water [for length of stay], Food [for length of stay], hiking boots, swim suit, Backpacking tent and/or hammock, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, headlamp, backpacking stove, cup, bowl, utensils, etc., sense of humor.
inflatable sting-ray, red wine
Before we even went on our trip, Shadi and I both agreed that we were most excited about our Havasupai adventure. The idea of 6 girls packed in a van, driving on the open desert, and experiencing the wonder of Supai seemed thrilling.
And it was.
We arrived at Hualapai Hilltop parking lot at 3am, took a short nap in our over-packed van, and started our hike into Supai around 8am on a Saturday morning. 4 hours later we were at the tourist office paying our $81.40/each permit fee. By the time we got to our campsite at 1pm we were beat. I had blisters on my toes and the weight from my pack was killing my shoulders. After a short rest, setting up our tents, and getting fresh water from the Fern Spring, we headed out to explore the falls. When we first caught sight of the lime-rich waters on our hike in we dubbed it “Avatar Heaven.”
Rightfully so. I could have stayed behind and lived in Supai forever. It was something out of a fairy tale and everything about it was gorgeous. There are four main falls to explore: Little Navajo, Havasu, Mooney, and Beaver Falls. We spent most of our time the Havasu and Mooney falls [we didn't get a chance to check out Beaver Falls.] We had the bright idea to bring an inflatable stingray and spent a good amount of the time bombing little falls on it. We got good use out of it at Havasu and was totally worth packing in [it also doubled as a bed when my sister found out how hard the ground really was.]
It took a little more guts to get down to Mooney Falls. It's a combination of short, dark caves, steep inclines, and a series of wet, slippery wooden ladders. I had to pack my camera away and take off my shoes just to make the descent. The short but dangerous hike was worth it. It was a challenge in itself. And well worth the risk.
And that got me thinking. There is something special about a girls trip with your closet friends. Especially on a trip like this. We didn't go on a weekend getaway to sip on margaritas and lounge by the pool. We hiked 20+ into a desert canyon in the hot sun, spent 3 days/2 nights in tents together, and challenged each other to do things some of us have never done before. I read a book once that talked about the bond between people who struggle together [and trust me.. when you hike 20+ miles in the hot sun.. there is struggle] and become more connected to one another. People who work and pain together have a deeper understanding of the human experience. I'm not trying to say struggle and pain is good. I'm trying to say that there is something profound about an experience that forces people to examine the fundamentals of life.
I felt like I did that with this trip. So much so, we were all a little sad to part ways afterwards.
How to Havasupai with the girls.
Seems like this trek was forever ago and I am only looking through the photos now! I wish I could have shared all of these photos and stories sooner! It would have been a lot easier for me to remember everything! Haha.. but alas. Life at home is full of surprises [like getting engaged!] and real-life, adult responsibility. But I promise once I've finally sorted through all of my photos I will be more on it and my blog won't go neglected for too long! (;
When Shadi and I were deciding how to get to Machu Picchu we really wanted an authentic experience. Although the Inka Trek takes you on the original Inka trail used to get to Machu Picchu, our friends and locals highly recommended the Salkantay Trek. They all agreed that it was less touristy than the latter, with a less populated trail and diversity of landscape. Plus, it was a lot more affordable and we weren't going to complain about that!
Exchange rate: 3 SOLES for every 1 USD
Time zone: UTC-05:00, Peru Time Zone
Booking Company: Andean Spiritual Pathways
Tour Guide: Puma Salkantay
Length: 5 days/4 nights
Total Hiking Distance: 76+ kilometers
Included In Cost: Machu Picchu entrance fees, 1 night hostel accommodations in Aguas Calientes, meals, 2-man tent, sleeping pad, mule to carry 5 kilos (*for first 3 days only)
Not Included In Cost: accommodations in Cuzco, water, sleeping bag, snacks, optional bus ride fee to Machu Picchu, optional Huayna Picchu Trek (*highly recommended), 10-30 soles for hot springs.
WHAT TO BRING:
- comfortable, backpacking backpack
- change of clothes [including warm and cool weather items!]
- socks, really good socks
- approx. 2 liters of water per day [there is opportunity to purchase water through the trip]
- rain gear [rain jacket, poncho]
- walking sticks [I thought I wouldn't need them but they are incredibly useful and will save your knees]
- sleeping bag
- toilet paper [you'll using the bathroom outdoors a lot!]
- first aid kit [including moleskins. I found them to be quite useful on the trip and a couple of my trek partners were very thankful for them as well!]
- wet wipes [there are several nights with no showers. It's a Godsend to wipe yourself down after a full day of hiking.]
- bug spray [when you get to the base of Machu Picchu it is very tropical and mosquitoes are on the prowl]
- extra soles for snacks and amenity upgrades
- passport [NEED at Machu Picchu entrance]
- dry bags [waterproof bags]
- swimsuit [if you decide to go in the hot springs]
THE NITTY GRITTY:
Hiking the Salkantay Trek was probably one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I have ever done. Before this trip, I don't think I have ever hiked more than 10 miles in one day let alone 5 days straight! I mean, everything hurt. All the time. My back was constantly killing me from carrying 35+ lbs. of water and camera gear. On day two my knee gave way and I had a limp for the rest of the trip. And some days we were constantly soggy from the rain. So soggy that I had to wear plastic bags on my feet so my socks wouldn't soak up all the water harvested by my shoes! Sometimes on those rainy days it was so cold I couldn't feel my fingers.
But it was all worth it [if you can believe it.] There is something about the struggle that makes the end of a journey so rewarding. And it made Machu Picchu shine like gold.
Parts of the hike were pretty intense. I will have to say the first day was hardest for me. I don't think my body or mind was quite prepared for the trek ahead, and even though it was not the most intensive part of the hike, it was definitely the most challenging for me. By the second day I was more mentally and physically prepared. We still hiked halfway between Salkantay and Humantay mountains at altitudes of 4650m and an exhausting 22km. Luckily, no one got altitude sickness. But halfway down the hill my knee started to hurt and it hasn't been the same since. Getting old ain't so great sometimes.
It rained a lot on our trek. But that was to be expected since it was still wet season. I wish I could have taken more photos but the rain kept my camera packed away a lot of the time. Plus, I was pretty exhausted most of the time and the last thing I wanted to do was take a photo.
[Which got me thinking. I am a traveler first and a photographer second. Exhaustion and weather aside, it is so much more important for me to be in the moment and feel what I am feeling and doing what I am doing instead of getting "the shot." Photography is just a byproduct of my experiences. The adventure comes first. The photo comes second.]
The third day was very tropical and warm. We passed through a number of waterfalls going through the road and even broke a sweat. Actually, a lot of a sweat. The diversity of climates on this trek were pretty tremendous. We went from thermal layers and ponchos to peeling away our clothes to nearly nothing. By the time we got to Santa Theresa we were ready to jump into the natural hot springs. I am pretty sure it helped ease all of our pains because I was surprisingly not sore the following day.
I have to say that the fourth day was pretty lackluster. Besides crossing a sketchy bridge where there was once a commercial road, there was nothing special about Hydroelectric. We were just merely passing through to get to the destination. Getting to Aguas Calientes was pretty cool though. It is a town below Machu Picchu, nestled between two mountains, and lined by Willkanuta river. There was something dreamy about this town. Although most of the industry is geared towards trekkers and people on their way to Machu Picchu, I can imagine that it was once a very dreamy town.
At 3:45am on the fifth day we were ready for the finale. Four previous days of trekking to get us here. At this point, you can either opt for the bus or take the original Inka path up to the top. Unfortunately, my knee was in pretty bad shape and I had to take the bus. We entered the gates to Machu Picchu minutes after 6am. Shadi surprised me with a cupcake and got our trekking partners to sing me happy birthday just before we got in. It was the perfect way to celebrate my 28th birthday.. at the top of a mountain, in the middle of Peru, at one of the seven world wonders, in one of the most famous ruins, going to one of the places I have always dreamed of going to. It was a pretty unique experience to say the least.
The trip was topped off by an extra couple miles [and a whole lot of stairs] to Huayna Picchu, the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu. I highly suggest adding this to your trip. I couldn't stop thinking about how it was built and how impossible it was to go up and down those steps without falling off the side. But the Inka did it. And they did it good. The way they built these cities seems like a miracle when you actually get to experience it in person.
In the end, I can only marvel at the experiences and pat myself on the back for getting through it all. If I could do it all again I would.. in a heart beat. But hope for a little less blisters.
Salkantay Trek. Worth every ache, blisters, cold fingers, and sore knees.
*To get all more details on the Salkantay trek you can visit Puma Salkantay and check out a day by day itinerary of the excursion.
Tyler and I got to work on a fun little project this past weekend.. testing out some of the rad [and want I like to call] adventure sandals from Teva. It rained the entire weekend but we made an adventure out of it anyway.
Ah Yes, Teva. I know, I know. You haven't worn Teva sandals since you were 6 years old. Whatever. They are cool again [as in Opening Ceremony did a collaboration with them.. cool. That's big time!) and have been cool for a while now. If you don't know that, well, you really gotta questions your ability to stay on trend. Fashion is fast. You gotta stay on it! Oh, and did I mention they're comfortable as hell?!
I'm pretty conventional when it comes to outdoor gear [okay okay.. I used to wear my running shoes on hikes!] and I haven't invested a lot of time or money in to it all that much. I had a nice little awakening though. Not only are my feet covered [pun intended I guess] but I have also been getting decked out in gear for an upcoming trip [more on that later!] But seriously, it's like my feet traded in weeny stock tires for those big, rugged tires you see on monster trucks. Alright, maybe that's a little extreme. More like a lifted Toyota Tacomas you see around town. I went from stock to custom with my outdoor footwear. Boom. You wanna something even better? Teva isn't just reserved for outdoor wear. It's fashion.. and I really believe that. I think that a lot of people are trading out that high-fashion feeling and looking for a more adventurous side.
It's trendy to be outdoorsy now.
So in that fashion, Tyler and I went on a fun little excursions doing some things we don't typically do on an average weekend. But I don't want to spoil the whole story here! Think rain, weather, ocean, and paradise. I love me a good photo story so if you want the full story [narration included] you can check out it out here and find out what we did on our little weekend adventure!
Field Notes: When it rains in paradise!
There is no doubt that Waipi'o Valley is my favorite place on earth. And my last trip home confirmed it. Over a three week period I went down to Waipi'o four times. Now this may not seem like much to your average bystander but getting down the valley [from the Hilo side] can be a mission. A mission that includes 4am wakeup calls. And if you know me.. I don't do early mornings [unless it entails this beautiful, black sand valley at the end of the snooze button.]
The water was incredibly clear and the waves maintained a good size every time we went down. I didn't bring my long board or surf at all [I'm getting old and don't want to get helicoptered out on a stretcher] but got to shoot a bunch from the water [and do a little bodysurfing too!]. It was paradise. That place really is magical. I probably say that every time I talk about it. Hah. But I absolutely love being disconnected from the rest of the world and completely connected to the earth while I'm down there. No cell phone reception, no technological distractions, you cannot even find out the score of the game until you are well out of the valley. That is freedom.
And if you cannot already tell from the photos.. Annie came to the Big Island for the holidays too! I think she took a major liking to this gem [minus the numerous river crossings.] Her favorite part? All the other friendly, ball-fetching dogs and plethora of crab holes to dig up. I think she felt right at home.
But this last trip confirmed it for me. I am ready to move back. I never felt so torn about coming back to the O'ahu. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the Gathering Place. There are a lot of benefits to living on this island. I just feel so much more.. myself.. on the Big Island. I might be biased.. but there is no other place like it. I recently met a girl who was living on North Shore of O'ahu for a long stint before settling back on the Big Island. She said she misses the beaches. And I don't know.. I think I would take black over white sand beaches any day. But that might just be me.
I'm ready to buy a Kalo farm just so I can be there all the time.. suspended in pure bliss.. forever.
Take me back.
We have been spending a lot of time on the other side of the island. It's almost like a mini escape. I know it may sound crazy but going to the same beach, on the same side of the island all the time can get a little old. It's funny how we go through cycles of change. Even though the water comes from the same place and the sand is the same shade of tan on every side of the island.. there is something special about finding solace in another place.
I think I know where we are going to spend most of our summers!
The other side.
I have always been a lover of photography and visual arts. When I was younger it became a huge part of how I communicated and expressed myself. I loved the act of capturing a moment in time and wasn't really concerned with the result. It was almost like the very act of releasing the shutter was enough for me. So over the years I've accumulated quite a few rolls of undeveloped film.
And that's how I came up with this project; THE FORGOTTEN FILM.
Over the course of the next several months I will be sharing these rolls of undeveloped film.. one roll at a time. They are completely random and every roll I develop will be a surprise. And that's what I find so exciting about it. All the rolls are mixed up so I might find myself looking at photos from 3 months or 10 years ago. All these special memories that were collecting dust are now being revisited.
And so, PART I, FILM ROLL I:
This particular roll was taken in the Summer of 2009 at South Point on the Big Island. I had just graduated from college and was spending my last summer as a what I felt like was my "youth." A friend came to visit and a couple of us decided to go on a little road trip. We always went on these epic adventures during the summer [I really miss that.] I remember stopping on the side of the road to look at this vacant building and, as my friend Nick approached, a horse suddenly appeared. He [Nick] definitely got a little freaked. But it was such a beautiful juxtaposition and unique moment. The horse remained curious and placid. There were actually several horses in the building [probably trying to escape the sun.] The building and old windmills got torn down since then and don't exist anymore. But it's these sort of images that remind me of my youth and the kind of freedom I felt.
SOUTH POINT, Summer 2009.
A friend of mine has a rad little dingy that can jet to all sorts of watery places. Like Ahu'olaka Island, also known as the Sandbar in Kane'ohe.
We dubbed it Sandbar Sunday.
So, if you don't already know, there is this massive sand pile in the middle of Kane'ohe bay [only accessible via water vehicle] and was notorious for some pretty rowdy parties during holidays. But after a series of unfortunate events the party problem has been eradicated. That's not really the way to enjoy it anyway, in my opinion. I prefer it quiet, serene, and with as little congestion as possible. The sandbar is a place of beauty, meant for enjoying the views, water, and peacefulness of being out in the middle of the bay. The tide wasn't quite as low as we would have liked but still just as enjoyable. It was a dream.
We spent the better half of the day lounging, drinking a couple brews, trolling through the water, and attempting to fish. Apparently you aren't supposed to bring bananas onto a fishing vessel. It's bad luck, fish don't like it. And guess who decided to bring a few apple bananas on the excursion? Oops. We thought we could break the curse. Failed. No fish for dinner. Just a note to all you non-savvy fishermen: no bananas on board.
Besides the whole banana bit, it was such a good day. I hope it becomes a tradition.
A delightful day at the Sandbar.