Part 6: Helicopter Flight Over Kauai (Part 1)


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The Trip

We heard from a number of people that getting a helicopter tour of Kauai was "the thing to do".  And, we also heard that you could get a flight with the doors removed from the bird to allow unobstructed photos.  Kathleen worked the situation and found a vendor that would give us an extended trip (at an extra cost, of course) on the day and time we wanted.  The bulk of these photos were shot with my Sony A7RMII with Sony 24-70GM lens.  The balance of the photos were shot with my Leica M8 and Voightlander 35mm manual focus lens.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The screen grab above is our route as logged by the "Trails" application running on my phone.  Our path took us over the highest areas on the island as well as the rugged Na Pali Coast

This is the Lava Lava Beach Club at our hotel in Kapa'a.  A nice enough place, but Kathleen wanted a bigger room so we left here and went further south from Kapa'a on the east coast.

We had a bit of time on our hands between check-out time and check-in time, so we decided to head to the south coast.  This structure is called "Spouting Horn" on the south coast near Poipu.  It is a blow hole that spouts spume when the waves hit it just right.

And when the wave timing is correct, it shoots a huge amount of water up the blow hole.  The hole "breathes" and you can hear the sucking sound as the waves retreat.

We we had "sushi" in Poipu but they had only rolls and we wanted sashimi.  So we rolled on and came to the Beach House Restaurant right on the water.

Kathleen is a lizard fan and spotted this fellow inflating his neck sac as part of their mating process.

Our new hotel was much nicer, albeit more pricey.  Multiple pools and hot tubs FWIW.

Kathleen reserved this Robinson R44 "Raven" for us.  The pilot was nice enough to take a photo of us prior to departure.  Because of the duration of the flight (and we paid extra) we were the only passengers.

A view of the 'copter's control yoke.

We got our safety briefing and headed out.  Above is a view of the Lihue airport that few except pilots get to see.

Our flight path took us over the Lihue marina area.  The large complex is the Marriott Hotel.

From the air, the patterns of the tree canopy looked fractal.

The dirt track is for rented quads.

We came to our first waterfall (of hundreds) very soon.  If this falls has a name, I do not recall it.

Note the pools at the bottom of each cascade.

The terrain was very steep and rugged.  Many of the waterfalls that we saw were not accessible even by foot.  Note the basalt columns at the top of the falls: yet another testament to the volcanic history of the island.

Many of the water courses converged into a single stream closer to the bottom of the mountain.

The upper reaches of Kauai are some of the wettest on the planet and produce large volumes of runoff every day.

Plenty of flow and a huge drop.

The pilot flew into every interesting side canyon which was a bit scary.  The winds were quite strong and it was blowing us around quite a bit.

Again, many courses converge into one.

A tight canyon and super-steep.

Many of the falls came directly from the upper plateau to nearly sea level.

As we worked our way through some of the side canyons it was amazing to see how steep the terrain had become due to the erosion.  The bottom of every canyon had a significant river.

This waterfall was so big it exceeded the field of view of my 24mm lens!

Some of the alcoves we passed were beyond description.

The upper reaches of the island were shrouded in fog and it was lightly raining.

The wind gusts were bouncing us around pretty good making taking photos a challenge.  This stream has cut through the canyon walls like a saw creating a semi-circular amphitheater at the bottom.  Many of the streams were creating sufficient spray to cause rainbows when the sunlight came through the fog.

The fog was creating light rain on the upper mesa.

As we neared the ocean on the Na Pali Coast we could see some of the electronics for the Pacific Missile Range Facility high on the cliffs overlooking the water.

Many of the canyons resulted in knife-edged ridges between the various watershed areas below.

The sun came out briefly producing a shadow of our 'copter on the steep cliff walls.

We came over the top of the mesa and down into Wiamea Canyon.

The volcanic rocks in Wiamea Canyon produced intense colors in the intermittent sunshine.

Even though Wiamea is in the rain shadow, it still benefits from the mesa runoff.

Wiamea Falls is the canyon's namesake.  We visited here our very first day on the island.

Wiamea Falls is truly magnificent.

I took over 500 photos on this trip and despite aggressive pruning of the set, it was not possible to tell the story in a single web page.  This segment of the trip is continued in the next section.

Next: Na Pali Coast and return to Lihue.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2016, all rights reserved.
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