Trail Maintenance (Part 2)

I went hiking up the Nounou East trail again (see part 1), and this time took my camera to document the trail maintenance and reconstruction that was done recently.

In the lower parts where the erosion wasn’t as bad, they mostly cleared branches away from the trail and piled them in any shortcuts that people had created. In one place, they created a wall of branches almost woven together (there weren’t many shortcuts there, so I wonder if it wasn’t some sort of training or practice):

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As much as I’m glad for all the trail maintenance, they really blocked every single shortcut, even this very safe and secure one that I have been known to take …ahem… occasionally. It had plenty of rocks and no erosion, so it was like a second trail. You can also see the leaves on the cut branches turning from green to brown. In a month, this will be a big pile of branches and not look very natural.

From below:

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From above:

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I think one reason that people create some shortcuts is that the trail is not very consistent. Some areas are steep, and in other places there are long, flat switchbacks that take time and make little uphill progress. In some places the shortcuts were on rocks and didn’t create a problem, in others, they were creating erosion and needed to be fixed and blocked.

Here’s an example of a switchback that needed fixing, and the maintenance crew did a great job. Now it’s nice and regular, not too flat and not too steep, and the repair should last a long time.

Before (from part 1):

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After:

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The next switchback had a badly eroded shortcut right below it. This one was a bit dangerous because people going downhill would see the shortcut and take it before they saw the regular trail, but the shortcut got steep with roots and rocks and water erosion. Before (from above):

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After (from the side), the eroded part to the left is filled with logs and then blocked with branches (out of view to the left), so people stay on the good trail now:

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They also worked on the big rock step to make it a bit easier. You can see the light gray color in the rock where they removed some chunks and added the wooden step. Oddly, the upper part wasn’t too bad because they had already worked on it years before, but they didn’t do any improvements to the lower part (bottom of the picture), which is now the hardest.

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Above the rock step, they also improved the trail in other ways. In one place they built rock wall in a switchback. In several flat places they laid logs across the trail for drainage, and they also removed some water gullies to make the trail nice and flat again.

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Here was the worst spot on the Nounou East trail, a short section where you had to hop over the washed out trail. Before:

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After, all fixed up, from about the same spot:

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Here’s another switchback, right before reaching what would be the “elbow” of the Sleeping Giant. They graded it, blocked the shortcut above and below it, and made it easy to stay on the trail. One small gripe is that they cut down the tree that used to be right next to the trail (see stump below). It was nice to hold on to, and its roots probably help hold the trail against erosion:

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Once again, thank you to the state DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) and/or their contractors who fixed up the trail.

Kauai Curbside Recycling

Recycling is one of those things that mainlanders take for granted, people expect their city to collect recyclables and do the right thing. As with so many other things on Kaua’i, it’s not that easy here. Being a small, rural island, the county government has not yet implemented recycling pickup service. At least we do have recycling dumpsters around the islands, but you have to sort all your recyclables. The extra effort deters a lot of people I’m sure, and tons of recyclables get thrown in the trash (probably with some guilt too).

For years, I have been dutifully saving, sorting, and hauling my recyclables to the Kapa’a or Lihu’e recycling centers. But recycling is so much easier when you can just put it out like the trash. So when I saw this advertisement, I snapped a picture with my phone:

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Kauai Curbside Recycling is a residential recycling service, for a small monthly fee, they’ll come to your house and empty your recycling bins. They provide the bins if you need them. They serve the whole island except the West Side (Hanapepe to Kekaha). You can follow their facebook page or go to their website kcrpickup.com for all the details:

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Source: screenshot from kcrpickup.com

I contacted the service through the website, asked if they served my neighborhood, paid online, and the next week Chris came by to collect my recycling (and every 2 weeks after that). Check out his cool recycling machine:

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We chatted a little, and it turns out he built his own truck bed to fit all his sorting bins. I find that really cool. He posted some of the build photos on instagram (using a tree branch to lift the old bed, that’s Kaua’i style):

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Source: instagram.com/kauai_curbside_recycling

Anyway, back to the recycling. I picked the “all-in-one” unsorted option where I just dump my bag of recylables from the kitchen into the blue bins every few days, then just put the bin on the “curb” every 2 weeks (much of Kaua’i doesn’t have curbs either, but that’s not as easily solved). This service costs a bit more, but it really saves time and space for me, because I don’t have to sort recyclables and store them in my own separate boxes. I still break down and stack the corrugated cardboard separately. I store the bins and cardboard in a garden shed so they’re out the way and stay dry.

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Historical note: there was a similar business back in 2007-2008 called Kauai County Recycling Service (KCRS). I signed up and paid a deposit for the bins, but when they went out of business, they let everybody keep their bins. I’ve been using them around the house ever since.

You can also sort your recyclables inside the bins and pay less. Here’s a picture from the website about how that would look (just use flattened boxes to separate the items):

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Source: kcrpickup.com/how-to.html

But what about the HI-5 deposit on bottles and cans? Like all recycling services, you just throw them in with your regular recylcing, and they sort them out and get the money for them. It helps them offset the cost and earn a fair living. So the service is costing me a bit more (probably $5 per month), but again, I don’t have sort, store, and drive to the redemption center anymore (so it saves me an hour a month, at least). If you have large quantities, you can negociate with Chris.

Here’s a handy recycling chart showing all the recyclables that Kauai Curbside Recycling will accept–it’s all the same as the county bins:

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Adapted from: kcrpickup.com/how-to.html, click to enlarge

In the end, I’m very happy that Chris has started this business, and I hope it works out for him. If you’re tired of sorting and hauling your recyclables too, or if you need a custom truck bed, give him a call. He provides a sorely needed service for Kaua’i residents, it costs only a little and saves me lots of time, and it should increase the amount of recyclables diverted from our landfill.

Disclaimer: I am a happy paying customer of Kauai Curbside Recycling, it was my idea to write this post, and I have received no compensation for publishing it. I just want to spread the news about businesses that are good, and good for Kaua’i.

Year of the Lychee

As anybody visiting or living on Kaua’i (or any of the Hawaiian islands, I assume) has noticed, the summer of 2015 has been an incredible year for lychee fruit. Trees all over my neighborhood are covered in lychee, and it has been lasting for over 2 months.

It really is spectacular in that trees that I didn’t even know were lychee are all bearing fruit. The tree is rather medium-sized and non-descript, and since it doesn’t fruit every year, they just look like nice ornamental trees in someone’s front yard. But this year they are full of red fruit and impossible to miss. The mainly-Japanese families who settled my neighborhood in the 1950s knew what they were doing, and their foresight is our delight this year.

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We don’t have a tree ourselves, but I can see at least 5 of them on our street, and several neighbors have been sharing their fruit. One friend has many trees, and I went over several times to pick, first from the ground, then on a ladder, then with a pole on the ladder. As more and more fruit ripen, and people get tired of them, I’ve been able to pick bigger and bigger bags full. In any case, I’m not getting tired of eating them:

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The previous picture is about 30 pounds (13.5 kg) of lychee. We ended up freezing a lot of them.

I assume that the second year of El Niño conditions has triggered the fruiting. 2015 is the first official El Niño year of the cycle, but we had a very similar dry winter followed by a wet spring and early summer as in 2014. In any case, we started picking and eating lychee from neighbors in the middle of May, and many trees are still bearing fruit. Over the months, different trees have ripened in succession, so we were able to taste and compare the flavor of several varieties (bumpy or smooth skin, firm or juicy flesh, more sugary or more tangy).

Oh, and it’s also been a good year for mangos:

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Aloha Hiding in Plain Sight

Aloha is all around us in Hawaii, but sometimes only the birds and the Google “satellites” can see it:

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This is at the Kaua’i Beach Resort, the one on the main road between Lihue and Kapa’a (it used to be the Radisson, then the Hilton, now Aqua). When I walked by recently, the topiary was still there, but maybe not trimmed as neatly. It’s not really a maze, but my daughter had fun pretending it was. She could read it when I told her the bushes where in the shape of letters.

The construction of the hotel and condos was controversial in the 80’s, but the area has lots of Aloha now, because I also found this carved into a tree trunk at the stream nearby:

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Here is the embedded map, with North to the top. If Google updates the imagery it might not be visible anymore:

I’m sure there are a few other examples on Kaua’i, but this is the first one that I’ve found. If you know of other “aerial art” visible in online maps, let me know in the comments.

Trail Maintenance (Part 1)

About a month ago, I saw a helicopter with a dragline over Nounou and I thought it was another rescue. But it wasn’t the county helicopter, which is red, and it kept dropping off something.

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I thought it was a stretcher, but then it turned out to be be logs for trail maintenance. So a few days later, I hiked up the Nounou East trail, and sure enough, they had dropped off bundles of logs in the various shortcut sections that have eroded.

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That last picture is where the helicopter was dropping the logs in the first two pictures, a place I call the “shoulder of the Sleeping Giant.” So it looks like the Nounou East trail is getting some maintenance from the state (I assume).

You shall not pass!

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That last one is the worst one, it’s actually hard to hike through there because the trail is so eroded downslope. So I’m glad they’re fixing it.

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I went back again last week and most of the work was done, but I forgot my camera. Next time I go, I’ll post part 2.

So “Thank you, DLNR” (Department of Land and Natural Resources) for fixing the trails for us.