Live, Laugh, Adventure

……and take lots of photos along the way!

The Taro Fields of Kauai

Taro is a traditional form of food sustenance and nutrition in ancient Hawaiian culture.  It is a root vegetable grown in large flooded fields.  The edible tuber is cooked and mashed into a smooth starchy food called Poi.  I’ve never eaten any but reports are it looks like sticky purple pudding and seems a little like eating paste.  I gather its an acquired taste.  My interest in it was limited to photographing the fields where they grow.

The first time we headed up to the North Shore the large taro fields before Hanalei immediately caught my eye.  I quickly made plans to drop my wife at the nearest shopping opportunity so I could head back out with my camera.

Its possible to get down low and close to the Taro and get shots of the field extending out with the mountains as a backdrop.

Throw in a few clouds and you have the potential for some dramatic shots.  Here a farmer walks among his crop.

I spent some time watching that same farmer use a tractor to prepare a field for planting.  It almost looked like the tractor was magically floating on the water.

One of the best views of the Taro fields can be seen at the Hanalei Valley overlook just off the highway on the way to Hanalei Bay.  While I was truly captivated by this view and spent more than a few minutes photographing it other visitors were not so taken.   I watched a car pull off into the overlook, drive slowly past as a woman held a video camera high out the window and then speed off down the highway.  Seriously folks, slow down and smell the Taro.  This ain’t the mainland!

While the overlook is a great place to take it all in, its also a great place to push in and photograph the details.  The well defined grid of fields makes for some great shots based on patterns.

While the North Shore is filled to bursting with spectacular scenery, don’t forget to spend a little time to check out the Taro Fields.  Its worth the effort.

Kauai’s Waimea Canyon vs Arizona’s Grand Canyon

Kauai’s Waimea Canyon has often been called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and having stood on its rim overlooking its beauty I can certainly see why.  But how does it actually compare to the real Grand Canyon in Arizona?  Well, I visited Kauai in 2010 and recently returned from a trip to the Grand Canyon so I thought I would have a go at comparing them.

Waimea Canyon (WC) is 10 miles /16km long while the Grand Canyon (GC) is 277 miles/433 km long.

WC is 3000 feet / 900 m deep compared to 5200 feet / 1600 m for GC.

WC is 1 mile / 1.6 km wide while GC is 18 miles / 28 km at its widest.

Okay, clearly GC is longer, deeper and wider but how do they compare visually?  How about I show you some photos of both canyons and let you judge?

Waimea Canyon

Grand Canyon

Which one is more spectacular?  I’ll leave that up to you.  However, I do know that both are so big and so beautiful that its very tough to make images that do them justice.  Even when I was standing beside them gazing out they somehow didn’t seem ‘real’.

Vancouver Island: Bedwell Trail

Strathcona Provincial Park lies to the South West of Campbell River and dominates central Vancouver Island.   It is the largest park on the island and the oldest in BC.  It spans almost the width of the island extending from Clayoquot Sound on the West Coast to within 13 km of the sea near Comox on the East Coast.  Contained within this rugged wilderness park is the highest peak on Vancouver Island (the Golden Hinde), the highest waterfall in Canada (and one of the top 10 highest falls in the world: Della Falls, 440m), glaciers and a fantastic variety of alpine and subalpine beauty.

One of the ‘easiest’ (relative term) ways to access this backcountry masterpiece is the Bedwell Trail.  The trail to Bedwell Lake is 6 km one way and gains 600 m in elevation making for a fairly strenuous trail ascent.  There is a designated camping area at Baby Bedwell lake and a variety of side trips or longer hikes from there are possible.  I just did the hike as a day trip.

From Campbell River, take Highway 28 West to the bridge over Upper Campbell Lake/Buttle Lake. Do not cross the bridge, but take the road down the East side of Buttle Lake. Follow Buttle Lake road south to Jim Mitchell Lake road which is on the left just after the Thelwood Creek Bridge.  Follow this dirt road about 7 km to the trailhead.  The road doesn’t typically require a 4×4 but it is gravel and somewhat rough so low slung cars might have some problems.

When you turn onto Jim Mitchell Lake road keep an eye to the left for some beautiful scenery.

The trailhead is an obvious parking area with a BC Parks map posted.

The first short section of the hike is relatively flat and crosses a stream using a very well maintained bridge.

Its not long before the trail turns uphill and starts the ascent.  Most of this trail is uphill and will get your heart pumping.  Parks Canada has done a lot of trail engineering, including some metal staircases, to make the trail safe and lessen the impact of hikers on the area.  The lower section of trail is in the forest but it’s not long before the trees thin out and you begin to get views of the surrounding mountains.

As you finish the climb you hit a relatively flat area with boardwalks and wetlands.

Just before Baby Bedwell Lake you encounter a small pond with a tantalizing view.  This is a teaser for what’s to come.


When you reach Baby Bedwell Lake the views are even nicer.

There is a designated camping area here with the most spectacular views from your tent that I’ve ever seen.

From Baby Bedwell the trail continues uphill with some nice views of Mt Tom Taylor and it’s glacier.

Its not long before you come to a viewpoint overlooking Bedwell Lake.  The payoff for all that sweat you left on the tail up is this view of prime Vancouver Island alpine. Big Interior Mountain is on the left and Mt Tom Taylor is on the right.

Trail Notes:

Driving time from Nanaimo to the trailhead: about 2.5 hours

Round trip distance from the trailhead to the Bedwell Lake viewpoint and back: about 12 km

Hiking time: about 3 hours up, 2 hours down but you’ll want to spend some time at the top enjoying the views.

Starting Elevation: 250 m

Max Elevation: 975 m

Trail Difficulty: Moderate.  The route is well marked and all the trail engineering makes walking fairly easy but this trail has a long continuous steep section making it strenuous.  Assess your level of fitness before attempting it.

Suggestions: Bring a camera!  What’s the point of all that pain if you can’t show your friends the beauty you’ve seen?  Hiking poles help a great deal with all the uphill on this trail.

GPS Track:

Trail Map: