Friday, December 26, 2008

View of Hanauma Bay from summit of Koko Crater

From Pu'u Ma'i (1,208 ft), the highest point on the rim of Koko Crater, the view southwest extends over Hanauma Bay where the ocean has filled an ancient volcanic crater.

Volcano Climbing, Hawaii: Koko Crater (Kohelepelepe)

The main "trail" up to the summit of Koko Crater follows the course of an old incline railway that was once used to transport military personnel to lookout posts at the summit of the volcano.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Volcano Climbing, Hawaii: Diamond Head

A switchbacking trail, a series of steep concrete steps, a tunnel blasted through rock, and a metal spiral staircase comprise the trail to the top of Lēʻahi ("brow of the tuna"), a volcanic tuff cone better known as Diamond Head. The view westward from the summit, 760 feet above the waves, extends over Kapiolani Park to the towers along Waikiki Beach.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oregon Hike: Sherrard Point, Larch Mountain

After two days of dreary weather, the sun emerged in full glory beckoning us on a late afternoon excursion to see "the mountain." Though the hike along the quarter-mile-long trail from the Larch Mountain parking lot to the fenced in viewpoint atop Sherrard Peak was short, the icy, howling wind made it a challenge. But the crystal clear views of five snow-clad volcanoes--Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Jefferson--was reward enough!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Munra Point, Columbia Gorge

The sharp, treeless ridge leading south from Munra Point in the Columbia Gorge. The lack of forest cover provides for some spectacular views which on this fine day included Mount Adams as well as the top of Mount Rainier!

The Hike to Munra Point

A sunny weekend in mid-November beckoned us to the knife-edged ridges of Munra Point in the Columbia Gorge! Off the beaten path, this unmaintained footpath led up almost 2,000 feet to this volcanic rock ridge high above Bonneville Dam. The ridge reminded me of the ridges of Oahu's Ko'olau Mountains where I wandered as a kid! A bit of Hawai'i in Oregon!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumn in the Olympic Mountains

Tawny high country meadows on Hurricane Hill ablaze with golden light as the sun sinks beyond the Bailey Range. The air was heavy with the aroma of Alaska yellow cedar, a scent so typical of the alpine areas of the Olympic Mountains. Lots of memories of my days as a backcountry ranger in the Olympics came flooding back! These are truly magnificent mountains!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Triple Falls, Columbia Gorge

Right in our own backyard, the myriad waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge beckon. A short weekend hike from Horsetail Falls led us past charming Pony Tail Falls and finally to this lovely treasure enveloped by the resplendent greenery of the Cascade Mountains.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kunashiri Island

Kunashiri Island, seen from the crest of Japan's Shiretoko Peninsula, floats dream-like on a sea of clouds (photo taken on September 6, 2008, 13:05 during our group's climb of the Rausu-dake volcano). The island, part of the Kuril chain, is claimed by both Japan and Russia and is administered by Russia. The mountain seen in the photo is the volcano Tyatya (Тятя), also known in Japanese as Chacha-dake (ちゃちゃだけ). For a view of the Kuril Islands dispute, from a Russian perspective, check out the documentary Between Two Shores at YouTube.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shiretoko Sunset

Sunset over the Sea of Okhotsk from Utoro. A serene ending to our Hokkaido adventure!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Shiretoko National Park

The cloud-wreathed peaks of the Shiretoko Peninsula seen from Rausu-dake. The peak in the far distance (with the barely visible, pale-colored blemishes that look like snow) is the active volcano, Io-zan ("Sulfur Mountain"). The blemishes are volcanic deposits.

Comfort on the Sea of Okhostk

Evening glow on the facade of the Kifu Kurabu Hotel overlooking the Sea of Okhostk.


The Oshinkoshin Falls welcomed us to the Shiretoko Peninsula.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mysterious Mashu

A view of Mashu-ko which some say is the most beautiful lake in Japan. In the right background is the peak of Shari-dake. To the right is the peak of Kamuinupuri ("Divine Peak" in Ainu) the high point on a subsidiary volcanic cone of the Mashu caldera.

Ainu Culture at Akan-ko

Canoe of Ainu-inspired design on display at the Hotel Akan-ko Yuku no Sato Tsuruga.

Marimo Cocktail

Green beans disguised as marimo encased in gelatin presented in an ice house.

Akan National Park

View of the Ao-numa and the peak of Akan Fuji from Meakandake.

Dinner at Akan-ko

Dinner fit for a shogun!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hokkaido Microbrew

A Hokkaido microbrew called "Okhotsk Blue" made by the Abashiri Brewery in northern Hokkaido. They say it's made with water from sea ice! The beer is actually dyed blue which makes it a little strange. Best to drink it from the bottle so you don't see the color!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sushi Time

Kaitensushi at the Big Sun in Abashiri. Sushi on a conveyor belt.

Northern Latitudes

Pre-lunch stop at The Museum of the Northern Peoples outside Abashiri where Ainu culture is presented alongside that of other northern peoples.

Midori-numa, Daisetsu Kougen

Midori-numa (Green Pond) is one of several ponds and small lakes scattered through the Daisetsu Kougen (Daisetsu plateau). The "Takane-ga-hara" escarpment rises beyond.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Daisetsuzan National Park

View across the roof of Hokkaido from near the peak of Mamiya-dake. The hike across the Daisetsuzan from Sugatami Ponds to Kuro-dake has got to be one of the finest day treks in the world.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Asahidake Venting

Steam vents on the south face of Asahidake, the tallest peak on Hokkaido. Seen from the trail to the summit.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

View from Niseko Anupuri

Looking toward the peak of Chisenupuri from the summit of Niseko Annupuri.

Jazzy Hiking

Ascending the slopes of Niseko Annupuri through bamboo thickets listening to jazz being piped through loudspeakers on the ski lift towers.


Look at this! Melon dessert. I can't eat any more, but I'll try!

Izakaya Hirafu Fleur

Sashimi platter extraordinaire in Hirafu.

Yotei-zan Emerges

After a soak in the onsen I peered out my room window to see Ezo Fuji (Hokkaido Fuji) rising, wreathed with cloud, above Hirafu village.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Onuma de bento tabeta

A sun break at Onuma where we enjoyed our bento lunches. The peak of Iwaonupuri rises in the background.

Niseko Hiking

Buying our trail lunches at the Niseko Seicomart. Now it's off to Goshiki Onsen to begin our hike on the Niseko Circuit.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shikotsu-ko from Tarumae-san

A view of mist-shrouded Shikotsu Lake (Shikotsu-ko) from the slopes of the Tarumae volcano.

Rolling and splashing

Off we go to Tarumae-san with our driver Jimbo-san at the helm of our Toyota Coaster. Rainy day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hokkaido no Kani

Crab on ice in Sapporo airport. Hokkaido is a paradise for seafood lovers!

Gateway to Hokkaido

The main hall at Sapporo's Chitose airport reflects the bustle of modern Japan. But outside only forty minutes away the mountains of Shikotsu-Toya National Park beckon!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Home Again!

Hiked up to Marmot Pass in the Buckhorn Wilderness of Olympic National Forest on a family backpacking trip last weekend. The last time I had been at Marmot Pass was about 27 years ago when I was a seasonal backcountry ranger for Olympic National Park. Since then, I've hiked in beautiful mountains all over the world, but I realized standing on the high ridge of Marmot Pass that the Olympics are still a favorite. Over the past quarter century, many things have changed, but the beauty of the Olympic Mountains endures! Breathing the yellow cedar scented air of the Olympic high country, it felt good to be "home" again!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thar she...flips

After leaving Isla Chapera, we circled Isla Mogo Mogo, then headed off to Isla Chitre for a quick swim. Shortly after leaving Isla Chitre heading back to Contadora, a whale's flipper broke the surface. Wow! She was swimming with her calf.

Isla Chapera

On our last day on Isla Contadora, we hired a local boatman who took us out to Isla Chapera for a swim off this lovely beach.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Playa Ejecutiva

Another lovely Contadora Island beach, this time Playa Ejecutiva!

"Hawaii Beach," Isla Contadora

The white sands of Playa Cacique ("Hawaii Beach") were our favorite on Contadora. When the tide was out, the waters were as calm as a pool, but when the tide came in, it looked more like Oahu's North Shore!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The perfect end to a perfect day on the beach. Watching the day draw to a close with a Panamanian beer on the silky sands of Playa Cacique.

Playa Galeon, Isla Contadora

The high tide created pounding surf at Playa Cacique so we moved to the other side of the island where we found the calm waters of Playa Galeon. Ahh!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Playa Cacique at the Villa Romantica

On our first evening on Isla Contadora, we walked to the Playa Cacique as the sun was going down. Dinner was at the Villa Romantica which you can see under the palm trees.

Aeroperlas Twin Otter at Contadora Airport

Here's the little airplane that ferried us to Isla Contadora. Its registration number is HP-747APP but a 747 it's not!

Casco Viejo de Panama

A street in Panama City's "Casco Viejo" (aka San Felipe). The Casco Viejo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We had a fabulous, multi-course lunch at Manolo Caracol in the Casco Viejo. Something not to be missed if you're in Panama City.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rain, rain and more rain!

This lovely waterfall on the way to the Finca Lerida was a gift of the weather. It rained like crazy during our stay in Boquete! Surprisingly, the summit of nearby Volcan Baru was frequently clearly visible despite the drenching.

Cafe de Boquete

Cappuccino at the Bistro Boquete made with famous Boquete coffee!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"To the Pacific in a jiffy"

The Iver Expert enters the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal! Seeing the Panama Canal was a bigger thrill than any of us expected. To finally see it after knowing about it for all these felt like reaching a goal that you never knew you had. We had a wonderful lunch in the lockside restaurant and ended up spending half the day here. The words from the Animaniacs "Panama Canal" song kept running through our heads, "You can sail a cargo ship from sea to shining sea through the Panama Canal for a nominal fee." The "nominal fee" averages about $80,000, cash only, no credit cards!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From a distance

A view of Panama's highest mountain, Volcán Barú, as seen from Isla Carenero (42 miles distant as the crow flies)! When you look at this picture, it's hard to believe that Barú rises to 11,400 feet making it taller than our own "backyard volcano," Mount Hood in Oregon!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The best beach in Bocas!

A view from Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro. We hired a local boatman to do a private transfer for us from Isla Carenero to Red Frog Beach at $20 per person. We zipped through mangrove-lined waterways to a small dock, paid a $1.00 entrance fee (you have to cross private land to access Red Frog Beach) and walked for 10 minutes through the jungle to the beach. Wow! What a beach! When we got hungry it was red beans and rice plus a cold Balboa beer at the beachside Flip Flop cafe. A spectacular day in Bocas (except we never saw the red frogs)!