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Hiking with kids: Olivine Tide Pools, Maui


The Olivine Tide Pools offer great (if remote) little hike with beautiful tide pools embedded in a craggy lava shelf. The pools were named after a semiprecious gem found lodged throughout the lava and sandstone cliffs. They range in size from serving bowls to swimming pools. The color of several of these has a brilliant green cast in the right light- a beautiful contrast to the turquoise and indigo blues of the nearby waves and surging whitecaps.

Olivene Tide Pools, Maui
A larger tide pool glows green against a bright blue sea.

 

These luminous green Tide Pools come complete with intertidal residents including fish, miniature hermit crabs, periwinkle snails and a crew of cantankerous crabs. A small, but enthusiastic blowhole may be active if you are lucky enough to come at the right time.

Olivene Tide Pools, Maui
Luminous green tide pool warming jn the midday sun…

TEACHING POINTS:

Teaching your little ones (and yourself) to be awake to your environment can bring up all sorts of interesting questions… here are the answers to just a few.

1. Why do the larger pools have more life than the smaller? Because Hawaii has such a warm sunny climate, the smaller pools tend to get overheated and not have as extensive and varied life as the larger ones. Also, the larger pools can store a greater amount of resources to support life. The location and size of the tide pool in the intertidal zone will greatly affect who can and will choose to live there- such a frequently changing environment requires hardy species!

Here’s a link to a pdf of many of the local Hawaiian residents.

2. How does a blowhole work?

How does a Blowhole work?
How does a Blowhole work?

According to Wikipedia:  “In geology, a blowhole is formed as sea caves grow landwards and upwards into vertical shafts and expose themselves towards the surface, which can result in blasts of water from the top of the blowhole[1] if the geometry of the cave and blowhole and state of the weather are appropriate.”

3. How does new (fresh) water get into the pools? What happens when a pool is not refreshed often?

These pools are submerged by the sea at high tides and during big storms, and can even receive spray from larger waves. If a pool is not refreshed as often (due to location further away from the water, it can stagnate, with higher bacteria, lower oxygen in the water and far less renewal of nutrients, any residents of this pool may die or be stunted in their growth.

See what other things you notice about the pools and their natural patterns- can your little ones come up with a hypothesis why or how something occurs?

HIKING TIPS: 

1. Safety First. The ocean waves crashing into the lava cliffs housing the pools are unsafe. Don’t try to swim in the area (other than in the larger calm tide pools) and don’t stand too near the edge. Some of the rock cliffs nearby can be unstable. Keep younger and less sure- footed little ones nearby.

2. Solitude seekers should plan ahead. A generous roadside pullout for parking, a common desire to stretch legs midway along the coastal drive, and the relatively short hike down the steep jagged lava encrusted terrain encourages a larger number of visitors. If you are looking for solitude, either go early in the morning or arrive late.

3. Consider Tidal Timing. Come at the right time (NOT during the peak of high or low tide) to experience a cool (if smaller) blowhole that never fails to fascinate young ones.
4. Bring a swimsuit! On weekends you will likely meet other people there, quite a few choosing to take a cool dip in the largest pool.


Olivene Tide Pools, Maui
Waves crash and churn against a jagged volcanic shelf.

 

5. Snorkel Gear: Although the water can be a bit cloudy, this is a great location for snorkel gear or goggles will allow you to get a better view of the local pool residents.

6. Surefootedness is a plus due to the steep, uneven and sometimes jagged terrain. Good shoes are a plus, although Keen/Teva type shoes are passable with careful foot placement. Flip flops (slippers) not recommended.

7. Get to know the locals: Do your research on intertidal zones and the local Hawaiian residents.  If you have kids (and even if you don’t) taking the time before you head out to get to know the various tide pool species can turn “oh, look, another fish” into an exciting treasure hunt for familiar friends.

8. Guard your stuff! As always at trailheads, please don’t leave visible valuables in the car.

Old Friends in New Places

 

It was a great morning. Fluffy omelets, multiple refills of rich dark coffee, and a chance to reconnect with old friends under tropical skies. I’d been on the road for the last few months before finally landing in Maui. Meeting a couple of other displaced mountain dwellers for breakfast got me thinking about the oddly comforting experience of meeting old friends in new places. I’d been feeling cast adrift lately and it felt good to find an anchor, a familiar connection to the known, in a place of so many unknowns.

Breakfast was over, and I felt sad to leave my friends. But it was time to head out onto the trail… Makawao Forest Reserve on the east face of the volcano. Climbing ever higher on an unvarying slope, a tunnel of indecipherable tropical greenery looms around me… It’s beautiful, but it all seems so hard to connect with, so alien.

Vibrant red mud squooshes out from underneath my soles as I plod ever upward, somewhat unsure if I want to continue. Before I can turn around, the canopy opens up above me, the slope evens out slightly and a meadow appears out of nowhere. At my feet a small plant with serrated bright green leaves catches my eye. Suddenly, I realize that I am looking at an old friend… Blackberries! There’s a whole ripe hedge here!

After a quick flash of warm recognition, (and wolfing down quite a few berries) I start to look around me and realize that a decent percentage of the incomprehensible ‘wall of green’ I had been wandering through are really just old friends…

Fiddlehead ferns, taller than any we have in the high country, dominate the meadow, just unfurling their broad spans from tightly curled bundles on the tops of stalks. Pines tower on the edges of the clearing (planted on Maui to serve as ship’s masts), Blueberry’s close cousin the Nene berry is sprouting up all around, and the sharp sweet smell of eucalyptus leaves rises from the forest floor. With a sudden grin of renewed confidence I have all the energy I need continue my exploration. The recognition of familiar plant friends has somehow made the challenge of connecting with new ones far less daunting.
Looking back, I have to laugh at myself- I realize that I had been given the same lesson in two different ways.

Feeling so adrift, I had forgotten that there is always a seed of the familiar in everything -if we care to look past the obvious differences.

Reaching out and finding a way to connect with your old friends, the knowns, the commonalities, helps you create a bridge to the unknown. Looking for ways to connect with “old friends” (human, plant, or informational, etc) can help you find a foothold in new territory, make things more comprehensible and give you the confidence to explore an entirely new world. This works not only when traveling or on trail, but applies in just about every disorientingly new experience we have in life.

Winter Senses Meditation

It’s so easy to let the winter season bottle you up in your house in an odd mix of hibernation mode and cabin fever. But you don’t have to let winter hem you in.

Take some time to go outdoors and re-expand your world. After all, there are only so many board games you can play. Time outdoors has been shown over and over to be vital to our physical and mental health in ways we can’t yet understand and are only beginng to be able to measure.  

Winter is a great time for natural meditation (or just gathering your thoughts). To get back in touch with the rhythm of the seasons, I like to explore the world, focusing individually on each of my senses.

Each season has a unique set of impressions it leaves lingering on your skin, burned behind your eyelids, a faint trace of scent, a taste on your tongue. Each sense you have is a gift, so take the time to truly appreciate each one of them.

Listen

You say you can’t manage a woodland hike in this cold weather? You can barely make it out the door? Then walk just outside your front step tomorrow morning and take 30 seconds to do nothing but listen.

What do you hear? The crunch of your boots on snow. A bird call oddly muffled by the white blanket covering the landscape. The pattering drip of water melting off the trees? Take a deep breath. Take it all in.

Look

Take a walk through the pines. Leave your camera at home so you can see through your own eyes. What do you see?

The dapple of sunlight dancing its way through the branches? Early morning steam rising off the meadow where sun meets frost? Stillness interwoven with movement as birds dart their way between their refuges? Or maybe the clear bright stars of a winter night? Take a deep breath. Take it all in.

Taste

Every season has its own taste. The fresh young pine needles of the summer inevitably give way to winter’s sharp, dry tannins. Autumn’s fruity rose hips dry into tart little berries, just begging to be made into tea.

The world is there to be experienced — and there’s no experience quite like the crisp, clean taste of a new snowflake melting on your tongue.

Smell

My favorite reward of a hike in the mountains is the moment I take a deep breath and become aware of the fresh scent of pine and wet earth. Slowing down to enjoy the scents of the trail, my lungs seem somehow clearer, my mind brighter.

They say scents have the most direct connection to the emotional center of the brain — I guess that means that if you want to brighten your day, you should take the time to open up your nose first.

Feel

Winter definitely has its own feel. Stepping out into the wild, what will you feel?

The feathery brush of a snowflake against your cheek. The slippery lurch of ice underneath your feet. The crisp, pinching bite on the tip of your nose on a bitter cold night. The warmth of the fire embracing your body as you walk through the door.

Take a deep breath … and take it all in with a smile. Time in nature is time spent healing. 

So when winter comes, instead of complaining about the cold, go out and consciously revel in its crispness, its beauty, its sensations.

“The mountains are calling…” and I am distracted.

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“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~Quote, John Muir

Now, good old John Muir didn’t say “the mountains are calling, but I just have to finish this TV marathon of Frasier first.”

Nope.

He clearly focused his priorities to fulfill his purpose, to do what he needed to follow his joy. He certainly wasn’t going to let any minor distractions clutter up his path!

The Seductive Power of Distraction

I’ve been combating a tendency towards distraction lately, trying to manage my online presence …“Hey people I’m over here!”, while still trying to live a balanced life. A life that lets me walk through the woods, prepare nutritious meals, talk with, hug and snuggle those I love, and get in a bit of work and very important play into every day.

That can be a pretty tall order when confronted with the “terrible twins” of distraction:

1. Mindless Distraction: What about that last half hour you spent obsessively pinning things to Pinterest? Neurotically checking for Facebook notifications? It’s soooo easy to get lost in your devices, to push on past your stopping point for “Just 15 more minutes”... (oh really?)

2. Overcommitted Distraction…  Maybe you’ve said yes (and yes and yes) once again to helping out again with that Charity Function, and taking over that field trip, and oh yeah, laboring at home on that office project. Whatever it is, you are petrified of saying no, of disappointing someone, of being seen as a “bad” person… and so you whip up your compromise “meal in a box” for the kids and rush out the door to make your commitment…

However you used it, that  collection of seconds, minutes and hours was unique- it was yours to spend, and you will never get it back. Did you use it on things important to you?
Will you look back from your deathbed and see that as “time well spent?”

The Power of Clarification

Ask yourself:

-What is important to you?

-What do you need to be healthy and happy? (Family time, love, travel, financial security, your dream job, physical health…?)

-How many of your daily activities help support the things most important to you?

-How many move you closer to achieving your goals, to being a happier person?

You say you’ve been too busy to even set goals? hmmmm….. Sounds like a clear case of distraction.

Make a list… and check it twice!

Sit yourself down. No distractions. No leaping up to wash the dishes. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Really take the time you need. Write up a list of your mindless activities and (over)commitments, from checking your Facebook, to always saying ‘yes’ to every charity function and event that comes your way. How many of these activities contribute to your goals and well-being?

Now that you’re clear on your priorities, which activities need a strict cutoff time? Which should be cut completely? BE RUTHLESS.

If you can, consider removing the distraction completely. Take your apps off of cellular data access- you can’t use them except for on wifi. Get rid of the video games, get rid of your cable subscription and substitute your mindless TV watching for reading a good book or playing outside with your kids.

Moving On

So, next time you find yourself mindlessly hitting the refresh button on that Instagram feed to check how many likes you got this minute, take a deep breath, put down the phone and pick up your list of goals.

Next time someone asks you to commit to something, realize that they are asking you to sacrifice a part of your life to their goal… How important is it to you? Are you willing to pass up chunks of your and your loved ones lives to be a martyr this particular cause?

 

 

Wild Rose Hip Tea

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There is an abundance of amazingly delicious and nutritious wild foods directly outside your back door. One of my favorites is wild (or even domestic) rose hips. You can make jam, jelly, syrup or just a simple tea out of these lovely “rose berries”.

A rose hip forms after a rose has been successfully pollinated. Gradually the bulb underneath the flower swells and turns into a bright red or orange fruit with a thin layer of pulp surrounding the seeds and fine hairs of the core. After the first frosts, the pulp becomes slightly soft, sweet and fruity- and enormously rich in vitamin C. When German submarines interfered with citrus shipments to England during World War II, the British turned instead to Rose Hips as their source of this vital vitamin.

Rose Hip Tea is my favorite form of this lovely wild food. It’s deliciously refreshing and packed with vitamins and minerals. I love it as a wonderful wintertime pick-me-up anddrink it just about daily throughout the colder months.

Making tea from fresh hips:

1. Place your (washed) rose hips into a small pot and cover with water.
2. Bring the water to a boil for 3-5 minutes. (Depending on strength tea desired).
3. Turn off the heat and use the back of a spoon to smash open each rose hip.
4. Let them steep in the water for up to 20 minutes.
5. Turn the burner back on to rewarm your tea. Pour your delectable beverage through a coffee filter into your waiting mug.
6. Enjoy your sweet and fruity delight!

Prepping the Rose Hips for storage, making tea from dried hips:
1. Harvest rose hips sometime after the first frost of the year (it’s wise to use protective gloves, since their thorns can really cut you up!)
2. Dehydrate them either in a dehydrator or the sun.
3. Grind hips in food processor into a rough consistency to help separate the outside skin and pulp from the fine inside hairs. Do not over-grind, as this will make it difficult to sieve out the pulp from the hairs in the next step.
4. Tip your rose hips into a metal sieve, and gently shake back and forth to remove the hairs. They should all easily fall through, leaving you with just the skin/dried pulp. You don’t need to remove the seeds as well- unless you have more time than you know what to do with! NOTE: these hairs used to be used to make itching powder, so this is a necessary step!
5. Store for use as tea (or for making jelly or syrup!) in an airtight container. Use a tea ball or small cheesecloth bag to brew your tea. Let it boil for 5-7 minutes depending on strength desired. Let them steep in water for 20 minutes.

Yum!