We got up early on Day 3 to meet up with Bill, our Nature Conservancy volunteer guide. Bill would take us on some wild four-wheel-drive roads and into the beautiful Kamakou Preserve, which consists of over 2,700 acres of beautiful rain forest and something I had never even heard of before, a mountain bog. The end of the hike brings you to a valley overlook that is breathtaking. So, let's begin!
On the way up to the trail, we stopped by this pit in the ground. It doesn't look like much, but it had some fascinating history behind it regarding the sandalwood trade. Be sure to ask your guide about it.
Another stop along the way provided us with a beautiful valley view and a sort of preview of what was awaiting us at the end of the trail.
Finally, we made it to the boardwalk that marks the trail through the preserve. Wow! This is much tinier than what I had in mind!
See the metal grid tucked behind this cool plant? Notice how it is almost the width of the foot that is standing cross-wise on it? Yeah, tiny.
We walked through a lot of rain forest and saw many cool plants, like these:
Luckily, the tiny boardwalk did open up in some spots, like when we finally reached the bog area, which was beautiful, but nothing like I thought it would be. It was a spectacularly open view and not at all full of swamp monsters and bog mummies like I was expecting.
(Hikers, not bog mummies)
Our guide, Bill (also not a bog mummy)
There were still some cool plants tucked in to these wide open spaces, like this ohia...
Pretty soon, it was back into the rain forest.
And Dr. Seuss-y.
Finally, we reached the end of the trail and we were blessed with a break in the clouds for a beautiful, sunny view of the many peaks and valleys surrounding us. It's so hard to capture, but this was truly breath-taking.
After a nice break for lunch, it was time to head back into the jungle and prepare to return home.
I'm in there somewhere!
After this experience, I can't say enough good things about The Nature Conservancy or our guide, Bill. He was full of information about the history of Moloka'i, gave us tons of information about the plants that we saw on our hike, and even gave us a reading list in case we wanted to follow-up on our education.
Funding is being cut everywhere these days, and organizations like The Nature Conservancy are going to become more and more reliant on private donations. Please consider supporting them in any way you can. Even if you can't donate, you can volunteer or even visit one of their projects and spread the word about your experience. I would love for everyone to be able to come to Hawai'i and experience the beauty here, but The Nature Conservancy is active in all 50 states and over 30 countries, so even if you can't come to Hawai'i, you can probably find something close to home that will give you a whole new appreciation for the place you live.