Tag Archives: EpicSummerRoadTrip2015

Backpacking to Emerald Lake – Sequoia National Park

We set up our base camp at Dorst Creek and then hiked out all over the park.  As a group, we got in over 30 miles in the four days we were in Sequoia National Park.

One of our most favorite trails was our backpacking trip to Emerald Lake on the Lakes Trail.

Emerald Lake - Sequoia National Park
Emerald Lake – Sequoia National Park

Step one, we went to Lodgepole Visitor Center and put in for a Wilderness Permit.  Step two, we packed our packs and headed out on the trail.
The Lakes Trail is about 15-17 miles depending how much wandering you do.  We wandered all over and got in about 15 miles.
Elevation change for Emerald lake is about 5000 feet.  You start at 6800 and go up to 9200 or so.  It is a tough hike to the lakes.  The trail gets very steep at times and it is quite challenging.
Our group consisted of one old man [our dad], our mom, and us – 13, 11, and 5 years of age.
Yes, a 5-year-old did backpack the entire trail with a pack.

Loaded packs
Loaded packs


Starting off was pretty easy.   The Wilverine had to stop for gummy bears quite a few times.


We stopped for lunch on the way up at the watchtower.  Take the watchtower trail; do not take the hump trail.  The views on the watchtower trail were spectacular and the elevation was not nearly as extreme.



After the watchtower, the trail gets very rocky and narrow.  If you look over the edge of the trail, the valley bottom is a long way down.



The first lake you encounter is Heather Lake.  Next up is Aster Lake and then Emerald.  The last lake is Pear Lake.

Heather Lake
Heather Lake


Getting water from the stream
Getting water from the stream

We camped at Emerald Lake and were the only people in the camp.   We saw only a few people the entire time on the mountain and it was awesome.

IMG_7202 IMG_7203 IMG_7233

If you are in the area and have a chance to hike or backpack the Lakes Trail, we encourage you to do it.  It was a really cool trip.

Sunset over Aster Lake
Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake

What a cool lake with spectacular views.


Hiking the Big Tree Trails – Sequoia National Park

We love us some big trees and there is simply no better place to see big trees than Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest.
We hiked all over the Giant Forest and spent time with General Sherman, the Congress, the Senate, and the President. We also saw many other giant trees like Chief Sequoya. Although the Wilverine complained about hiking the whole time we still had fun. What a cool place!

Giant Forest here we come.
Giant Forest here we come.

General Sherman is a huge tree.  Sherman is the largest tree in the world. The Wilverine says “it is the fattest, reddest tree I have ever seen and it got struck by lightning, which is why the top quit growing. If you go here, you are going to see a big fat red tree that does not grow at the top. It is a really cool tree and you should go see it.” My mom says it’s like a human because it has quit growing up, but is still growing out.

General Sherman
General Sherman

On the Congress trail, you can see the Senate, the House, and the President. The Wilverine says “the President was huge. That is it.”

The Senate
The Senate
The House
The House
The House
The House

Giants are everywhere in the Sequoias. Chief Sequoyah and the McKinley tree were massive.

Big fat red tree
Big fat red tree

We are running our base camp from Dorst Creek Campground, site number 65. It is a walk-in tent only site and it is the best site ever. We have access to the river and can run free without bothering anyone.

Sequoia Base Camp
Sequoia NP Base Camp
Sequoia NP Base Camp

We are backpacking as well and will post about our trip to Emerald Lake later. It is a 15-mile round trip backpacking trip with almost 5000 feet of elevation change.  Hard core!

The Polynesian Cultural Center Luau in Oahu

We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center for the Alii Luau and had a great time at some of the island stations.

Do note that if you book a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center and plan to go the islands before the luau that you need to arrive at noon if you intend to visit every island and see each island show.  Samoa and Tonga are great, but take nearly an hour each if you want to see all of the fun shows at each island.

The first island we visited was Samoa. We got to attempt to make fire with two sticks and watch a show where they made all sorts of stuff with coconuts, climbed a palm tree, and twirled a fire staff.  Samoa was super fun and the best island in our opinion.  The Samoan dudes were great and very entertaining.

Samoa fire making
Samoa fire-making
Samoa fire dancers
Samoan fire dancers
Samoa tree climbers
Samoan tree climbers

The other station that we went to was Tonga where my dad entertained everyone by wearing a grass skirt while dancing and playing the drums.

Tonga show
Tonga show
My dad getting his hula on
My dad getting his hula on

After the shows we went to the luau and saw another fire twirler. We also had a feast of pig, steak, chicken, fish, sweet potatoes, and purple poi bread.  The buffet was well worth the money.  The Kalua pig was the best we tasted at any time while on the island.

Luaua fire dancer
Luau fire dancer

Lastly, we saw the Hau – Breath of Life.  It was incredible!  For sure, you have to see it if you are at the Polynesian Cultural Center for a luau.

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Makapu’u lighthouse hike in Oahu

This hike was a paved hike that was short, fast, and somewhat flat. We did it with our friends and had a lot of fun hiking along the coast and seeing the amazing views of Hawaii like this view of the koko head crater.


The trail has a low cement border to keep you from falling off.
It is well marked and very clean.  Some folks were riding bikes on the trail when we were there.


From the first viewpoint, you get a nice view of the koko head crater.
We will put a whooping on koko head before we head out.

koko head crater

The trail goes on for about 2 miles.



From the last few viewpoints, you get great views of the pacific ocean.


The top lookout has a great view of a small island.



We didn’t get to go to the lighthouse because it was government property but we got a pretty good view of the lighthouse from the trail.  There is a trail that leads to the lighthouse, but that trail is private property.


The hike is very easy and only takes about 1 and 1/2 hours if you move briskly and do not stop a ton.  If you have little kids and stop quite a bit, the hike will take more around 2 hours.  It is well worth the time.

Hiking the Diamond Head Crater Trail in Oahu

We hiked the Diamond Head Crater trail a couple days ago.  It was  a really fun hike.  It only takes about 2 hours total and the hike is barely 2 miles.  The total elevation change going up and back down is 1520 feet.  760 feet up and 760 down.  Lots of people were on the trail of all ages so make sure you do not miss out if you’re in Oahu.

Getting ready to hike
Getting ready to hike

We posed for a group pic before filling up water bottles and heading to the trail.

On the trail
On the trail

The trail starts off paved and then turns to rocks and some boulders.  It is a clear trail that is well marked with rails.  It is very safe even for little people.

Nice trail
Nice trail
A little people
A little people

There is one section where you go through a cave, up a couple hundred stairs, and around a spiral staircase.  We liked this so much we did it twice and ran up the stairs.  Macho!

View from the cave
View from the cave
Fun stairs
Fun stairs
Spiral staircase
Spiral staircase

The views from the top were spectacular.  You get a stamp if you make it to the top.  You must bring a receipt or a map along with you.  You can also buy a certificate at the top for five dollars.

Me and my stamp
Me and my stamp
View from the top
View  of Honolulu from the top

What an awesome hike.  We ran down to get in an extra workout.


Off to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail for more hiking.

Surfing with Hawaiian Oceans Waikiki

Today we decided to go surfing with Hawaiian Oceans Waikiki.


JP was our coach and he did an outstanding job. He told me to go straight, then turn left, then turn right, then move up 3 feet, go back 4 feet, jump 3 times, all while looking super cool. I did it all with style.


Ben is hanging ten or attempting to hang ten. Ben has style, but not as much as me.


We both had a blast riding the waves all the way to the beach. Don’t we look macho!


Here we go.


I had a ton of fun learning to wipeout!!!!!


The Wilverine is not pictured, as he had a melt down and did not get to surf.  He is going to try another day.

Waikiki is a great place to surf and Hawaiian Oceans Waikiki will get you coached up.

Best Beach in Oahu, Hawaii – A-team road trip 2015

We have been here in Oahu for 6 days and have checked out a ton of beaches.
So far, we feel the Kailua Beach / Lanikai is the best beach.

It has very clear water, lots of soft sand, and lots of shade trees in case you need them.
The mountains are right behind you and you feel like you are on the beach in Jurassic park without the dinosaurs, of course.

Kailua Beach, Oahu
Kailua Beach, Oahu

The water is pretty calm and super clear.  Snorkeling was great here.  Not a ton of sea life, but very clear water.

Kailua Beach, Oahu
Kailua Beach, Oahu

Enjoying the soft sand and clear water.

Kailua Beach Pano
Kailua Beach Pano

The water really is that blue / green.

Kailua Beach view from the water
Kailua Beach view from the water

From the water, you can see a forest right on the beach with beautiful mountains right behind the trees.
You have lots of shade if you get tired of the sun.Lots of restrooms on site with showers to wash off.

We felt it was a beach just for kids.  The three of us were surrounded by lots of other kids.
Football and bbqs were going on all over the beach. We will definitely visit this one again before we have to leave Oahu.

Waimano Falls Hike in Oahu

We got up and my parents went for a run and brought us back some Portugese style donuts called malasadas from a bakery called Leonard’s


Then, to work off all those donuts’ we went on one of the scariest hikes we have ever done, just to get to a waterfall.
We hiked down to Waimano Falls which is a spur trail off of the Manana Trail.
You get to the Manana Trail from Pearl City by taking Kaahele Street from H1.
From Kaahele street, you take Komo Mai Drive straight to the trail head.
There is little parking so be aware of that.  You will have to park on the street.
Map of the Manana trail in Pearl City –  link

Many websites list the hike as super easy, but that is not the case.
It is well worth the time and effort, but it is a tough hike for sure.


But it was worth it and we went rope swinging and cliff-jumping into a deep pool.


The hike out was very tough and steep but was not quite as scary as the hike in.

once we finished the hike’ we needed to wash off the mud so we went to the beach to relax and build a pyramid

After the beach, everyone was hungry so we stopped at a place called the rainbow drive-in
#1 food stop so far on our trip –  Rainbow Drive-In!
You must go here if you are in Oahu!

Then after we went to the rainbow drive-in we stopped at a souvenir shop to get Hawaiian shirts and a hat for me.
We will post a group pic of us with our shirts and Wilverine in his matching shorty shorts that he loves.


We are out the door for more fun in the sun.
Peace out yo.

A-team roadtrip 2015 Hawaii day-2

We woke up in our condo to the sound of jackhammers and left immediately to go to the beach, find some shoes for me, and go try out a place called Mike’s Huli chicken. While we were in target we noticed it started raining and decided we would go to the beach later. So we went to mikes Huli chicken for the best chicken i have ever eaten.


After a bite to eat at the Huli chicken truck we went to a deserted beach on the north shore so the Wilverine could wear his shorts granpa or pawpaw style.


On our way home we decided we were in a mood for shaved ice and stopped at a food truck gathering to try it Hawaiian style.  It was a blend of ice cream and shaved ice.  Not bad at all.

Huli huli means turn turn.  Huli chicken is really good rotisserie chicken cooked over an open fire on sticks that are turned over and over again = huli huli.   Local Hawaiian wood is used for cooking the chicken.  It is usually lightly salted with sea salt and flavored by the smoke from the wood.