Luke Wainiha Ridge, Kauai, Hawaii.jpg

Luke, Wainiha Ridge, Kaua'i, Hawaii

Four thousand feet above the Pacific Ocean on the northwestern side of Kaua'i lies a deeply furrowed plateau, the remains of a caldera rimmed by Wainiha Ridge. Lava flows and accumulations of sediment have eroded since Kaua'i’s volcanic origins millions of years ago. In truth, this ridge is nearly 20,000 feet above the ocean floor. A relic of an ancient seamount — the oldest in the Hawaiian island chain — these highlands are covered by a rainforest dense with unique plant species in one of the wettest places on the planet.

On this afternoon, the view looking down onto the pleated cliffs of the verdant Kalalau Valley became increasingly obscured by rising warm, damp air that condensed into a floor of cloud just below the ridge. The ocean’s rich blue bled through the clouds. The sun, filtered by mist, created a nebulous glow tinted by a “glory,” an atmospheric phenomenon much like a rainbow in which water droplets both focus and reflect a spectrum of colorful light.

- James Baker