Sunday, October 16, 2016
The islands of Hawai'i are often described as paradise, but the island ecosystem that existed prior to human colonization offered little to assist in the survival of the human species. The plants and animals were highly evolved in their long isolation, and few of the native species were edible to humans.
It's unknown precisely when humans arrived at Hawai'i (perhaps between 300 AD and 1,000 AD), but it is known that those who arrived were probably well-prepared. They arrived on sea-faring canoes outfitted with plants and animals that they would cultivate and raise in the new land. They brought jungle fowl and pigs, breadfruit, coconut, banana, and sugar cane. And they brought taro, which they called kalo. The starchy root of the taro was a staple in their diet as it has been in many other parts of the world.
Successful farming of taro required large amounts of fresh flowing water, which was a problem on the Hawaiian Islands. There are only a handful of rivers of any size on the islands, and so those few were extensively altered to allow the most extensive production. Which brings us to the northern side of Kaua'i, where the Hanalei River is one of the few rivers with a floodplain large enough for kalo production. The beautiful valley is one of the largest kalo growing areas on the islands
part of my continuing series (off and on) about the Hawaiian Islands based on my recent field studies course on the Big Island and Kaua'i. We've been exploring the Hawai'i that once was, compared to the Hawaiian Islands since humans arrived. We're getting close to the end of the story, so I'll be trying to get the job finished in the next couple of weeks.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Monday, October 10, 2016
The exposure is well-known to geologists who explore the region, but even though I've visited the site numerous times, I was struck by not just the folds themselves, but their setting deep in the gorge. Cliffs soar thousands of feet above, and I'm not sure why I haven't included them in the photographs I've taken in the past. It leaves me wondering how this canyon could have been left out of Kings Canyon National Park, whose boundary lies just a few miles upstream. Just downstream, Kings Canyon reaches its greatest depth below Spanish Peak, some 8,012 feet. This is just 19 feet or so short of being the deepest canyon in North America by most reports (some claim Kings Canyon is the deepest).
|Here are the folds from the conventional angle from across the highway.|
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
|Tule Elk at the San Luis NWR|
|Can you see why I took this picture?|
|Salt Slough in the San Luis NWR|
|Egrets and Sandhill Cranes at the Merced NWR|
|Great Egret at the Merced NWR|
|Sandhill Crane at the Merced NWR|
Friday, September 23, 2016
But it nearly ended for the birds. Settlers in the late 1800s found that streams could be diverted, and that levees and dikes could be constructed, so that vast portions of the lake dried up and disappeared. The nutrient rich sediments of the lakebed became pastures and rich soils for growing alfalfa or potatoes. In 1928, though, a wildlife refuge was established that preserves the remaining lake area for the birds and other animals. The present lake, as big as it seems in the photo above, is but 10% the area it once was.
The lake was the end of the world for a people as well. The Modoc people lived along the shores of the lake for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, but were forcibly removed in the 1870s. Many elements of their culture were lost as their community was shattered. I wrote more extensively on this sad history in a previous post. The story is compelling...check it out!
This is a dispatch from the road, some short descriptions of our ongoing field class on the geology of California's volcanoes.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Thursday, September 15, 2016
|Photo by Mrs. Geotripper|
Nāmolokama Mountain, and there were dozens of waterfalls in view, falling hundreds of feet. The slopes were choked with tropical vegetation, providing a contrast to the rich tan colored sand and the blue water. It's close to the ideal of paradise.
I was surprised by a fierce downpour a couple of years back when I was on the pier, and I took some snapshots of the storm. As I looked at the photos later on, I noticed something strange.