Cook Islands trip completed

We just returned from spending two weeks in the Cook Islands.  It was our first trip to the South Pacific and we ended up choosing an outstanding destination.  We spent one week on Rarotonga and one week on Aitutaki.  The local people were very friendly, the mountains and beaches of Rarotonga were spectacular, and the colorful fish and lagoon of Aitutaki were stunning to behold in person.  I carried out four hikes while on this trip and will write up detailed trip reports on at least two of them.  At the end of the reports, I will try to include a few of my favorite non-hiking pictures from our time in the Cook Islands.  Death Valley hiking will resume in the near future in January of 2016, but until then I will work on my Cook Islands hiking reports.  For now, here are a few teaser images of a couple of hikes that we carried out.  The first two pictures were taken on Rarotonga during the Cross-Island Track and the last two pictures were taken near the summit of Maunga Pu on Aitutaki (which is Aitutaki’s highest point).

Gary heading up toward The Needle on Rarotonga's Cross-Island Track
Gary heading up toward The Needle on Rarotonga’s Cross-Island Track
Gary at the base of The Needle with the mountains of Rarotonga behind him
Gary at the base of The Needle with the mountains of Rarotonga behind him
Steve standing near the summit of Maunga Pu on Aitutaki with the lagoon in the background
Steve standing near the summit of Maunga Pu on Aitutaki with the lagoon in the background
Steve standing just past Piraki Lookout with Maunga Pu in the background
Steve standing just past Piraki Lookout with Maunga Pu in the background