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TREX 2018 Day 9: Happy to be in Hapuna!

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TREX 2018 Day 9: Happy to be in Hapuna!

By Josh Wilson ‘19

Today was our second moving day of the trip! Everyone woke up around 8:00AM and set about packing everything from personal belongings to pH sensors and all the other equipment strewn across the tables. A little before 11:00AM the place looked immaculate and everything was packed in the mini-vans. Our drive to Hapuna was free to begin.

Along our drive we stopped at a yummy smoothie place, where I discovered that banana and coffee in a smoothie is one of the greatest combinations of my generation. A short while later, we stopped at Waipi’o Valley located at the central northern shore of the big island. The view from the road was breath-taking. The sheer cliffs enclosing a black sanded beach reminded me of photos in travel brochures used to promote tourism.

Waipi’o Valley

We were also given the option to walk down the incredibly long and steep trail to the valley floor, and ultimately the beach. Unsurprisingly, everyone, myself included, wanted to head down. I estimate it took about twenty minutes to get to the beach, and a little over halfway down I started to think about how each step I took meant that I would have to do the same in the other direction up the hill to get back. Nonetheless, I carried on. As soon as we hit the beach, my shoes, socks, and shirt were off and I was in the ocean. The water was crystal clear with a turquoise-like tint. This hue was something I have never seem before. I will most likely google what causes this phenomenon, but for now I like how magical and inexplicable it is when I think of it.

Waipi’o Valley Beach

After about twenty minutes of swimming around in the water, everyone began to head back up and I reluctantly followed. The hike back up to the car was exhausting. I am unsure of what grade the hill was, but I found myself bending all the way over while I walked since it felt easier – essentially forming a right angle at my waist and creating a lovely right triangle with the road, my upper body, and legs. I am writing this blog so yes, I survived! We all made it back to the car and it was finally time to head to Hapuna and check into our new living arrangement.

We are staying at several cabins right by the water in Hapuna, on the north-western coast of the big island. I am looking forward to sleeping outside with the Hawaii breeze blowing through the mesh windows of the cabin David, Joey, and I are sharing. Before eating dinner, David, Chang, James, and I walked down to the beach. It’s safe to say we are going to have a wonderful time over the next week or so.

Chang and James Unknowingly Pose for my Hapuna Beach Panorama.

Post-dinner, everyone came together in the common area and Professor Kocar spoke to us about the course of action we would be taking over the next few days. Tomorrow morning we will be going snorkeling! However, when we get back around 1:00PM, crunch time begins in regard to data analysis and sample measurements. We will be giving our public talk on our research findings on Monday, giving us three days to really lean in on our work, and prepare and create a sound presentation. Professor Kocar mentioned how our work is very important to the people that live on the island and that we may have a large attendance on Monday which I found very exciting.

While today was a bit of a rest day, it was much needed and will refuel us with the energy needed to grind out a clean presentation by Sunday evening. It is currently 9:41PM, and as soon as I email in this blog post I will be hitting the hay and sleeping like a baby. I am eager to see all our hard work come together and hopefully reveal some profound findings.

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.