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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Konahuanui to Olympus -- by Dave Webb

On Sunday a group of 4 completed the Koolau summit ridge between Konahuanui and Olympus. Myself, George Privon, Cherly Batangan and Casey Myers were the intrepid adventurers and what a day we had. We dropped off my Honda at Waahila State Park and left for the Kalawahine trailhead in Cheryl's car at about 8:30am. I noted as we pulled out that the gate closed at 6:45pm and we all shared a laugh about getting out on time. Later in the day that memory would not seem quite so funny.
Our group of 4 set off at about 9:15 am heading for the Nuuanu lookout. We ran into a group of 3 hunters with about 8 dogs up there under blustery conditions. The summit of Kona was under dark clouds and we were hit with some sideways rain but the forecast was good so we continued. We actually got off trail initially and climbed up a steep and loose slope. The main trail was discovered after a minute or two and we were off. Made the summit of Kona 1 at about 11:45 am in the clouds. We rested for 15 minutes or so and then started poking around looking for the ridge heading southeast from the summit. The clouds parted momentarily and we were off. Almost immediately after dropping down from the summit the sky cleared and we were treated to a fantastic view of the windward side. The clear skies really boosted my spirits and gave me confidence that we would be able to make it to Olympus. Initially the going was not too bad and we were able to stay to windward in the low vegetation.
My friend Casey is from Oregon so he has not done much hiking in Hawaii. I told him that this was an "intermediate" hike and we had a good laugh. Stopped for lunch in a nice area with low grass and a fantastic view. After awhile the ridge got a lot more brushy and we were repeatedly forced to leeward. Although safer it was a struggle pusing through the bushes and we all were getting beaten up pretty good. I knew that we woud eventually have to negotiate the ironwood tree and "true horror" rock so we continued on. As the day grew longer I realized that our progress had slowed considerably and I started calculating how many daylight hours we had left. It wasn't looking good for awhile. Lots of things start going through your mind like "What about work tomorrow?" and "Are we going to have to spend the night on this ridge?" I know from experience that hurrying is not a good idea since it can often lead to injury which just makes the situation worse. We finally got to the tree which seemed worse than when I had been there before. The wind was howling through there and we tied my 40' length of tubular webbing to a sturdy tree and dropped down just to leeward to get around. Almost immediately we reached "True Horror" rock and again tied the rope off to assist in descending. This rock is a great example of how your mind can play games with you. It is a really easy little downclimb and it would be no big deal until you consider it's location. As you look down you see a huge windward dropoff of thousands of feet and it is a real clincher. Everyone got down and I doubled the rope around the tree keeping a death grip on both live ends. Once down I pulled the rope down in case we needed it again and off we went. From here the going got a little easier and we reached Olympus at about 4:45pm. We got down quickly and reached Waahila right around 6pm.
I don't think anybody has been up there in some time. We spotted a few red ribbons just after leaving Kona ridge and a few more on Wing's contour close to Olympus but nothing in between. If you go plan on at least 4 hours to do the crossover. Take some rope because you will probably need it for the tree and the rock. Start early. Wear long pants and gaiters and a long sleeve shirt. Wear shin guards if you have. Be patient and enjoy the views.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tragedy on Olomana

Ryan Suenaga -- Staradvertiser photo
This past weekend, Ryan Suenaga, 44 of Kaneohe, fell to his death on the approach ridge to Mount Olomana's third peak. A story about his life and his tragic end is in the Honolulu Staradvertiser. We are saddened that his life is ended and reminded how dangerous hiking in Oahu's mountains can be.

In 2004, perhaps at the same spot, Jacqueline Turner, also 44 at that time and also of Kaneohe, fell 150 feet but miraculously survived. Also on that day, another hiker, Mel Yoshioka, also fell while descending the backside of Olomana's second peak. He, too, survived. The details of that event are chronicled.
Mel Yoshioka and Jacqueline Turner, Olomana fall survivors
On the same day that Suenaga fell, another hiker, Giovanni Acosta, also fell. Like Turner and Yoshioka, he survived and filed the following report:

This morning I am fortunate to have awakened from my bed, even though I must say that it’s been an extremely sobering morning. Waking up today, more so than any other day, has made me realize that coming back from being asleep and returning to this shared reality is an immense gift of time and circumstance. Only yesterday, I had found myself in the most dangerous of situations that branched completely from my own fault. A few friends and I had organized a day in Kailua, and the first stop on the agenda was a hike up Olomana’s first peak. This was the first hike I did when I came to the island a year ago, and yesterday, it almost became the final hike of my life.

Giovanni Acosta

The Start of the Hike
The day was gorgeous with an occasional, refreshing breeze and a warm, inviting sun. The group of people I was hiking with consisted of four women and two men, with me being one of the men and my girlfriend being one of the women. Ascending this jutting trail would make it near my 45th hike on the island in the past year. Completing the first peak of Olomana, around 1000 feet in altitude, would be my fifth time.

After nearly two hours, because of frequent stops and slow hike speeds, we made it to the top. Right before the top of the peak, there is a series of rock inclines, which can be bouldered coming directly at them or climbed up using a smooth side wall further towards the center of the peak on the mauka side. As I bouldered up the western side of this portion of the peak, I was all smiles; thinking to myself that I needed the bouldering practice for future hikes planned that would have me at a much higher elevation and in much more precarious situations.

However, my close female friend was having trouble coming up the rock wall which I had avoided unlike most people. Her trouble was mostly from not using the thick rope of about sixty feet in length to come up to where I had bouldered up to. My girlfriend was up there guiding her vocally, encouraging my female friend to take the rope up, but my female friend was still hesitating. So with full confidence I decided to come down the rock wall, using the small juts to work my way down in a matter of seconds to where my friend was having trouble. When I showed her what to do to make use of the rope to get where I had just come from, she started to ascend up the wall, but in doing so, kicked back and knocked my phone clip from my shoulder strap loose without me realizing. A few moments after climbing back up to where now my girlfriend and female friend was, I heard something hit the rock below my feet and looked helplessly as my phone, in its case, tumbled down the rock wall and off into the unknown below us, past the side trail which hugged the rock wall.

At this point, we were right before the summit of the first peak, and hadn’t yet seen the top. I hesitated only a second before deciding I was going to go back down the rock wall to get a closer look to see if I could see my phone to retrieve it. My girlfriend immediately told me that the phone was gone and to not try to recover it. To just let it go. I was confident from prior hikes much more dangerous than what I imagined was just off trail below and said to her that I could easily grab my phone if I only I could see it. I told her that I was going to attempt to grab the phone and could use her help. When she insisted I not go after it, I told her that I was going to try with or without her help and that I would be careful.

My girlfriend then partially acquiesced and recommended that if I try, that I at least use the assistance of our other male friend in the group who was just 25 yards away at the summit. I agreed and decided to enjoy the summit before the attempt. When we made it to the top, everyone was happy and giving each other high fives. We had our snacks up there and enjoyed the beautiful views of Waimanalo, Windward Oahu, and Makapu’u. Even in the distant, views of Molokai, Maui, and Lanai far off over the south-eastern horizon delighted us. A few other groups summited while we were up there, some coming from where we came, others coming back from where the path continued onwards to the second and third peak of the trail.

The Descent and Ill-fated Decision
Finally, it was time to start our descent back. I was focused on seeing if I could reach my phone. Before I continue with the recount of what happened, I’d like to say that I am more prepared in my supplies than many others I have hiked with. In my camelback, I carry first aid, flint to create emergency fire, tourniquets, a whistle and compass, and always a lot of water and food. I also have had rope with me since the day of my first hike. The rope is not climbing rope, but a rope tested up to 150lbs used for camping. In my mind, I carried it for emergencies that I would hope never to come across. Only once before, did I use the rope to secure a handhold for a friend who was in trouble in Ka’au Crater, so the rope had been cut from its original 50 feet length down to 35 feet, and remained in my bag since. Also, I carry two knives; one on the shoulder strap of my backpack, and the other larger knife usually at my waist or in my bag. When my girlfriend had started hiking, I bought her a smaller knife as well to keep on her bag’s shoulder strap.

So as we came back to the base of the rock wall, my girlfriend and female friend, who had struggled with the wall, remained up top; and, the two other females and the male were with me down at the rock wall’s parallel trail. The ladies started looking for the phone from their positions as I asked my male friend to call the phone to see if I could hear it. As it rang audibly, my girlfriend yelled out that she had seen it bounce too far. My male friend said he thought it sounded a ways away as well. One of the two females on the same level as I said she thought she saw it. I itched to have it back.

So I looked down past the trail and noticed a series of ledges that seemed stable and able to be stepped on. The ground looked covered in debris, but there were some trees and plants coming up from the floor that looked like they could be secure. The steeper decline into the unknown wilderness below didn’t appear to start for another 15ft past the ledges that I had decided would be safe enough to stand on. I told everyone I would just get to the part where I thought was still safe before giving up on the phone. I was challenged by the circumstance and wanted to recover the phone to bypass the inconvenience associated with losing it. However, as the events unfolded, I almost paid dearly for that choice. I took off my pack and pulled out the rope and handed it raveled up to the male with me and told him to have it just in case. But I left it raveled up in his hands! This was also his first major Hawaiian hike and the guy is not an outdoorsman. All these were some of the mistakes that were adding up unknowingly at the time.

The Fall and Miracle
I climbed down past the rock-wall’s side trail and then stood on the first ledge below the trail. There were no problems; I felt safe. I thought that this must be how the terrain would be ahead and in front of me to wherever it was my phone was as it sounded ahead in the audible distance. I stepped down to the second ledge and felt the leaves under my feet feel a bit unstable; but, I was propping and holding myself to the trees, the decline being only about 35 degrees at this point. Then I saw the third ledge, the point where I thought the phone might be within reach, and noticed that the black and blue thing that my female had seen just before was actual a lost hiking stick; one that a wiser hiker had decided to declare lost. It was not my phone. I turned my body to face towards the trail above me and went to step over to the third ledge when all of the sudden the ground under my feet slid.

The next second, I was belly down on the ground sliding downwards at high speed with my feet below me, hands above me, and face towards the rock wall. I felt rock and dirt and leaves whishing by my face and my arms were upwards over my head, palms down trying to grab a hold of something. I knew I was sliding some distance, and felt more embarrassment than any danger. Yet, I wasn’t sure. I felt I would stop by a sheer false sense of invincibility. So when I stopped a few seconds after the slip, I wasn’t surprised. But I didn’t stop because I was able to grip something with my hands; I was stopped because I hit something with the side of my left leg and thigh.

At this point, I looked around to see what my situation was and was immediately hit with the gravity of the seriousness of it. I was in fatal jeopardy. My left leg had caught onto a branch or tree of about three broomsticks in width that must have previously been snapped by wind and gone horizontal. The part of it that had fallen was under my left leg and thigh, clinging onto who-knows-what, and the other part at which it snapped, across past my right leg. My hands and chest and stomach stung and hugged earth under me, but my hands had difficulty finding anything to grip onto that didn’t pull free.

The worst was when I looked just over my shoulder behind and below me. Two feet under the branch that had stopped my fall was a sheer drop off. Where it dropped off to, I couldn’t see, but I was on a cliff edge and beyond it and in my vision was no more mountain, just hundreds of green, sun-covered tree tops hundreds of feet below. My life was momentarily saved by this branch which had stopped my fall, but it was unstable and already starting to crack with my weight of 165 lbs.

From shock of the situation to the immediate understanding of the jeopardy, I went into survival mode. Mind you, only 10 seconds or so had passed since I slipped from above, and I knew that the rest of my entire group had just witnessed or heard me slip. I yelled out, “I’m okay! But I’m in a very bad situation and need help.” I could see my male friend’s face staring down at me wide-eyed, about 50 feet above me, the incline of the area I was at now was about 45 degrees.

My other female friend, who had hiked Olomana before and was the one who thought she had seen my phone, looked towards the area which I was in with a puzzled frown and a hint of determination in her eyes. My hands moved around carefully trying to grip anything; but most was dead debris or dirt or leaves. I dared not move my butt or legs in fear that the broken branch under me would give. I dared not look back towards the fall that would end my life. The one thing I was able to grip was found, a nub-of-a-plant growing out of the dead leaves to my left, about long as a palm-of-a-hand and as thick as a golf ball. It was the only thing I could manage to wrap my hand around to secure, and I dared not tug hard on it.

I called out to my male friend to try to unravel the rope and toss it to me. I could see other plants coming out of the ground near me, but too far beyond my reach. I thought, if only I had rope on me, I could lasso one of the plants to help me get off the branch below my legs that was unstably supporting me from dying. My male friend tossed the white rope which I had given him; its thin width and length not able to get to me at all from his position on the trail. I yelled out, “Please, I’m in a very serious spot. I think if this branch gives, I will fall off the cliff. I need a rope immediately!” My friends now yelled back they were trying. My girlfriend, farther above yelled out “Be strong! Hold on! Don’t you let go of anything!” But I couldn’t grip much. Everything I touched with my right hand came away from the earth. I was worried I would pull something out that would cause the earth over my head to shift downwards and in fatal consequence. So I decided to start digging with my free right hand. In honor of Bear Claw, I quickly made a hole in the dirt above and to the right of my head with my right hand. Once I felt it was deep enough, I stuck my free hand into that new slot hoping that it would work as some new way for me to hold onto the mountain face.

I told the male and female friends who were closest to me, both looking down at me from the trail, to try to step on the ledges which I first stepped on so they could then be able to try to toss the rope to me again. I could feel the branch under my leg starting to wiggle. They yelled back they were trying and deciding who could come down on the ledge. While they decided, I tried to stay calm. Thoughts flew through my mind. Would I die today? Is this my end? I thought it was sickly ironic because on this same Easter Sunday, my sister had given birth to her third child just hours before. I found it idiotic that I would die for a cell phone. I thought it stupid that my slip originated from my ill choice and stubbornness. The thoughts crossed my mind and I focused on the desire not to give my new nephew an awful birthday present and not to die with a Darwin award.

I knew any movement would not help me and might be my last. I again wondered if I should accept the fact I was going to die. Immediately, I pushed away the thought, and mentally told myself: survive. So I hugged the earth under my body and breathed in and out calmly, trying to mentally settle down. Oddly, I looked at a stick in front of my face that had a clear, white aphid bug crawling on it. It felt like it looked at me when I noticed it. It’s tiny face appearing to recognize me as I did it. Strangely, this brought me a moment of calm for a few seconds. I had come to this creature’s home, and it was safe… so maybe I could be. I mentally transported myself somewhere else, where I was not about to die.

When I looked up again just seconds later, my female friend was trying to make it down to the ledges I had thought wrongly just moments before that would be safe. It was the only place they could toss the rope from that might better reach me. As she moved, I told her “Please hurry… I’m very much in trouble.” She responded she was trying and didn’t want to cause a landslide of dirt to come down to me. A few steps later from her, and pebbles and rock started falling. She moved a few more feet before deciding that she just couldn’t do it without jeopardizing herself or risking dropping a rock down towards my face. I wasn’t frustrated. I was grateful that she tried. I yelled out “Thank you for trying. Maybe you can get a longer rope! I have a knife in my bag! Cut the thick rope that leads up the rock wall! We could use it to get to me!”

The Final Hero
At this point, my girlfriend who had been yelling out “I love you!” every few minutes and encouraging words throughout the last few moments yelled out “Hang in there! I have called 911!” At that moment, I felt the branch under my left leg and thigh starting to give. If it came away free from whatever it latched onto, or snapped completely from the base it had cracked from, I would be falling to my death. This was the exact and only moment I was given to move, so I moved without knowing what would happen.

My left hand dare not put any further weight on the little nub that it held; my right hand pushes deep into the hole’s ledge I had just dug; my body shifting upwards with the force of my right hand pressing into the hole; my left thigh just coming off the branch as the branch gives away and falls; my left foot swinging upwards to kick into whatever nook the branch had just been latched into; at the same time my right hand pushing away from the hole to allow my right knee to come up and dig into that same hole.

Now, I was up closer, away from the cliff ledge by about half a body. I couldn’t see where my left foot had stepped into but it was secure enough for the moment. My hands and arms pressed against the earth, now unable to grab anything, but were able to provide more stability to my body with their new positions. My right knee felt deep enough into the hole I had just dug to take off the strain from odd muscles which were being used before while I was on the branch that was now nowhere to be seen.

I yelled out “I’m in a safer position but not sure for how long! Please, see if someone can use the larger rope to toss it down!” A response from above was “We are working on that!” My girlfriend continued to yell out to be strong and hold on. I could see people now coming up from the left side of the trail, coming up to ascend to the top of the summit, and one of them, a total stranger, looked down at me and then to my friends and said he could help. “Thank you,” I yelled, “Please hurry, I’m in a safer position but don’t know how long I can hold it!” At this point, I was still about 45 feet away from them and about five feet above the cliff edge.

“They are sending a helicopter,” yelled out my girlfriend, still beyond sight. “Hold on! Be strong! I love you!” I returned the words of love and looked at this stranger now starting to lower himself onto the ledges just under the trail. He moved slowly and cautiously. At this point, I must have been on that ledge for about fifteen minutes, and the self-induced calmness was starting to wear off. Was I going to die just as it looked like I might get the help of rescue? I wasn’t sure. The ledges I had slipped from weren’t far but I didn’t know if it was too far for rope to reach or not. My mind started racing, my heart started speeding up, my knees started to shake. “Please hurry! I’m starting to panic!” I yelled. The stranger, calm and moving cautiously, voiced back “You’re okay! If you are in a secure spot, you can stay there if you don’t move. No need to panic.” I wanted to believe him in his calming assurances, but I knew I was standing with one foot on whatever had caught the fallen branch and dared not move my foot a millimeter. My right knee shook from a fear of death and overwhelming sense of uncertainty in the hole in which I just had made. I wanted to believe the stranger, but somewhere inside, I knew regardless if I moved or not, these holds my foot and knee were in would cave.

“I only need rope. If it can’t reach just throw me it down!” I yelled. I planned for how if I had rope in hand, I would use it to throw around a plant that was growing just up and towards my right above reach. I could lasso myself from one plant to the next until reaching the safer area where the decline wasn’t as steep and further away from the fall. The stranger now was on the ledge and telling me he would get the rope to me. He had my thin, white rope in hand and was now attempting to toss it down towards me from the closer ledge. I hoped its 35feet length would now be enough. The first toss got caught in tree limbs which branched from trees to the left and right of the lane from which I had slipped. He stayed calm, as I flustered at the failed attempt. I didn’t want this to be my last sight ever… a man I didn’t know almost saving me.

He tossed the rope again, but it fell just in front of the ledges, about 25 feet too far away. He pulled it back and someone handed him a rock to which he tied the rope’s end to. He tossed it again and this time it sailed past the branches towards my location. It hit above my position, just five feet or so away. He was about to pull it back, when I yelled out “If you give it some slack it might reach me!” He heard me and let go some of the grip on his end and the rope’s end near me, with its rock attached, thankfully had the weight to slide down the dirt some and into my extended right hand. In its full extension, the end of the rope had just barely reached my hand.

I hike with rubber-palmed gloves and wear them throughout the trails regardless of their elevation. It feels better for me to have my hands touch rock or branch with the gloves on. I was fortunate to have had them on when my white rope reached my hand. The rope was very thin and it helped knowing that the gloves were on my hands. I used the rope to pull myself up with my free hand after the stranger who had saved me said he had tied it off near where he was above. Wrapping the rope around my forearm and wrist, I came up from the edge of the cliff and up the incline that I had slid down, almost to my death. I was able to reach the place where my phone must have fallen because I could hear it beeping near my feet, but I didn’t see it nor did I want to press my luck further by shuffling around for it. Even if I retrieved it, there would be no sense of victory or accomplishment that would be worth the cost of what I had just experienced. I knew the moment was a traumatic experience not only for me but for the people who witnessed it un-fold.

Then, the stranger was able to throw me the thicker, longer rope that was cut from the rock-wall when I came closer to him, about 25 feet away. He tied it to the tree near him and that allowed me to climb up back over dead earth, rock, and garbage to where he was. While I made the last efforts to get back to safety, a yellow helicopter arrived over our heads. I heard it but I refused to look up as I climbed hand over hand on the thicker rope back towards the rock-wall’s trail. That was the place I needed to be. The stranger shuffled up from the ledges to the trail before I did, and I only looked back once to see my white rope tangled and tied around a tree below. It would have to be left. With people all around watching, the stranger offered me his hand and I pulled myself up back onto the trail and back into safety. That’s when the shock of safety hit me. It actually happened: I was rescued.

As the helicopter’s blades and propellers spun loudly above us, the pilot stuck his face and body out from the side of the helicopter to get a better view of us below. Many people and I threw up multiple thumbs up at the helicopter so the pilot could see I was alright and saved. I then turned around and found my girlfriend in front of me tearful-eyed and smiling. “I’m so happy you are alive! I love you so much!”. “I love you, too” I replied as we exchanged the best embrace we’ve ever shared. I felt awful and wonderful. I felt ashamed and thankful. “I’m sorry” I whispered in her ear.

I looked down at my legs and arms and noticed there was blood all over them. For the first time, I felt the scrapping, nicks, and cuts that had rasped me as I had fallen. Thankfully, I wasn’t injured worse in my slip and fall down the edge, for if I had been, I don’t know if I would have been able to have held on by the edge.

My other friends embraced me each in turn. No unkind words were said. People were just happy I was okay. Strangers looked at me from the left of the rock-wall and from the top of it; and as I apologized for the inconvenience of it all, they also said the same: “It’s okay!” “Glad you are alright!” “You were lucky!” Finally, I looked at the stranger who had come to my rescue; a young man with fair skin, curly brown hair, clear eyes, and a calm demeanor. He watched me from the side of the wall and I walked to him and shook his hand. “Thank you. You seriously just saved my life,” I said. He replied, “It was no problem. I’m glad you are alright.”

When we had been climbing up to the top peak, we were passed by another hiker who is a friend of mine and someone that I’ve hiked with a few times before. He likes to take rock climbing classes around the island and is knowledgeable of rope. He was enjoying his Sunday hiking all three peaks by himself. Later, when I was hanging for my life on the edge of the first peak, someone above had called him and asked him if he could come back from the third peak to help me. When someone had yelled down to me that they had called him, I didn’t think he could make it in time. I removed him from my mind as a chance of rescue as my life was in jeopardy.

The friend on the third peak; however, did turn around to try to make it back to offer help. On his way down from the third peak, he saw someone in trouble. Someone else was in danger and our friend with his rope-skills, who had been coming back to help me, ended up being able to rescue this other hiker. Curiously, as we were coming down the trail to the first peak, we noticed the helicopter continuing to circle around all the Three Peaks. We thought the helicopter rescue team was just taking the opportunity to run drills since I had already been saved. However, when we reached the bottom, my friend pointed out to me that the helicopter was flying away with a gurney.

It is with my extreme sadness that I write now that there was a third hiker who slipped and fell. It happened around the same time the other hiker, who my friend saved, and I were rescued. No one saw the third hiker fall, but some said they heard the fall. I only heard about the fatality later in the night; and, unquestionably, my mind has had a difficult time in its comprehension. I can only hope my life, a gift more than ever on this morning following that eventful day, honors both the heroes of the rescued and the fallen that were not rescued.

My heart and prayers go out to the family, friends, and people who knew the man who died yesterday. All I can say from being there just inches from sharing the same fate is that I know the last moments of his life he thought of you and was thankful for your love and friendship. Let’s all honor him by being safer, better aware of our limits, and becoming better prepared for times of emergencies.

Mahalo for reading this and to all those who played a part in allowing me to write it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kohala Ditch -- by Pat Rorie

Twenty-five years later and in the same spirit of exploration/discovery exemplified by HTMC legends John Hall and Fred Dodge during their 1977 Kohala Ditch adventure, Mark Short and I traveled to the Big Island this past July 4th weekend to experience the region for ourselves.
Pat Rorie -- Photo by Nathan Yuen
Of the Kohala Ditch Trip, Stuart Ball writes..."Kohala Ditch is a rugged loop trip in the windward Kohala Mountains of the Big Island. The route initially traverses several massive ridges and deep canyons with fast flowing streams. The return portion is along the coast where black sand beaches alternate with steep sea cliffs. Much of the trail follows an abandoned ditch, once used to channel stream water to a sugar cane plantation near Hawi."*Brief History:17 miles in length, the Kohala Ditch required 18 months and 17 lives to complete, with opening ceremonies occurring on June 11, 1906. Japanese laborers comprised most of the workforce and they lived in ramshackle camps scattered around the mountain valleys in buildings generally constructed with hapu'u fern logs for floors and an 'ohi'a framework covered with tar paper to form walls and roofs.== Wednesday, July 3, 2002Mark and I rendezvoused at Kona airport Wednesday afternoon under mostly cloudy skies, and a downpour drenched the area while we were getting into the rental car."Isn't this the dry side of the island?" I queried Mark."This doesn't bode well for the rest of the trip" I concluded.From Kona airport, the two of us drove to the North Kohala village of Kapaau to pick up a few last minute items (burritoes for Mark and postcards for me). Upon our arrival Keokea Beach Park, the rain subsided, and we immediately commenced tent/hammock set-up. Later, we kicked back under the pavilion, conversing on a variety of subjects as I prepared and consumed dinner (Mark had already eaten his burritoes).
Mark Short
At 12:45 am while sound asleep inside our respective temporary abodes, the police arrived and politely informed us that we had to leave (camping is no longer allowed at Keokea)."Ah, there's nothing like breaking down your tent in the rain, while half asleep, in the wee early morning hours with the uncertainty of where you'll end up camping later that morning" I thought to myself. :-)Fortunately, we found refuge at Kapaa Beach Park, a few miles to the south of Hawi and returned to slumberland at approx. 2 am.== Thursday, July 4, 2002 "Pololu Valley Lookout to a campsite deep inside Honokane Nui Valley"Mark and I arose at 6:15 am and prepared for the opening leg of our backpack,  including a return to Keokea to obtain water and use the Men's room. From Keokea, we motored 1 mile to the Pololu Valley overlook (elev. 486 ft) where I parked the car. The two of us proceeded on foot at approx. 7:30 am heading mauka on a dirt road through pastureland on a cloudy, grey, drizzly morning. En route to the Kohala Ditch Trailhead, we startled a small group of cows but did not start a stampede.The initial 1.5 miles of the graded contour Kohala Ditch Trail (KDT) is wide open and features nice views of Pololu Valley stretching to the ocean, as well as 5 waterfalls along the trail, the first being a magnificent twin gusher, flowing high above and then under a concrete bridge, and the 5th (Kapaloa Falls) dropping 300 feet above the trail and 200 feet below it as the cascade flows over the trail. Hikers actually walk behind the cascade, and I did just that a few times.
Kapaloa Falls
Beyond Kapaloa Falls marks the end of the improved segment, overgrowth and small dirt/rock slides clog the footpath, footing is definately compromised. Well on our way into upper Pololu Valley, Mark and I lost the trail, but after studying a copy of a topo map provided by Stuart Ball and some poking around, we reacquired the KDT, fording coffee colored Pololu Stream in the process. To help future KDT hikers avoid confusion, I recorded the following in my notebook...
"Reach a junction. Continue straight on the wide KDT (the narrow trail on the left marked with a red ribbon descends to the stream via short switchbacks). Farther ahead, switchback once, cross Pololu Stream and then gain elevation via 6 switchbacks (the 5th located at the end of a line of tall swamp-mahogany trees)"Above the switchbacks, the two of us stopped to observe a pair of wild pigs and their young foraging in the woods on the opposite side of a tributary, and on the way out of the valley, we walked past a few junipers and several lobelia 'oha trees. As Mark and I reached the crest of the ridge separating Pololu and Honokane Nui Valleys (elev. 1,800 ft) at approx. 12:15 pm, the weather finally settled to mostly sunny with big patches of blue sky.En route to the floor of Honokane Nui, we marveled at the sheer verdant walls of the gorge, three narrow cascades gently flowing down the pali. The vista reminded Mark of a scene from the motion picture "Jurassic Park".Upon completing the descent to the valley floor, the two of us struggled to ford swollen, rushing Honokane Nui Stream, desiring to keep our packs dry and avoid a mishap in the river. After accomplishing the 9th (and final) stream crossing, Mark and I passed a pair of rustic cabins at a clearing a short distance ahead, then walked above the river via a fairly new suspension bridge.Still deeper in the gorge, the two of us arrived at the Awini Weir (an impressive dam, elev. 1,000 ft) at 4:15 pm, which is a stones throw from a cable once suspended above the stream to ferry a small metal cart back and forth. We dropped our packs, Mark for the purpose of taking a nap while I went up stream a short distance for a dip in an inviting pool (but even then, I could feel the current pulling me toward the dam, so the refreshing plunge didn't last long). I discovered a perfectly shaped sun rock and stretched out on it for some shut eye.Prior to darkness setting in, the two of us established camp near the weir. At 8 pm Mark retired for the evening inside his hammock, but I stayed awake a few more hours to enjoy the star-filled mosquito-free night, the sound of the stream plunging over the dam my constant audio companion.== Friday, July 5, 2002 "Honokane Nui Valley to a cabin nestled high above Honopue Valley"Following a relaxing breakfast near the weir, Mark and I packed for the second leg of our journey. By 8:30 am we were retracing our steps along the KDT in search of the first of a series of switchbacks which would take us high above the valley floor and connect with a long contour section cut into Honokane Nui's east wall.After about half an hour of mucking around a wooded area of mostly guava trees, I discovered the lowest switchback and communicated my finding to Mark. Soon we found ourselves methodically gaining elevation, pausing on at least a couple of occasions to look almost straight down at the dam and stream, both of us also delighting in the superb view of the gorge as it continued mauka toward the base of the Kohala Mountain Range.When we reached the top of the 9th (and final) switchback, Mark and I began contouring high above the valley at the 1,800 ft level, the sheer windward pali just below the summit crest of the Kohala Mountain Range visible in the distance, as well as the abrupt verdant cliffs of Honokane Nui's west wall across the valley, and the cabins we had passed the previous day approx. 1,000 ft beneath. The graded contour footpath was surprisingly wide and open, short segments almost perfectly preserved from the original construction. Thus, we made good time on the way out of Honokane Nui. However, at 10:30 am, a steady drizzle and thick fog engulfed the trail, robbing us of the outstanding sights. Farther ahead, the two of us stopped for a snack break at 11 am at the bend where the trail begins contouring into the prominent gully containing Honokane Iki Stream (west branch).Pressing on half an hour later, Mark and I easily negotiated the first gully, but when we arrived at the top of a broad ridge, we mistakenly headed inland, led by blue ribbons tied periodically to tree limbs. Once the two of us realized that we were no longer on the KDT, we retraced our steps and simply crossed the ridge west to east, which led to the continuation of the graded contour footpath. Meanwhile, the light rain subsided for the most part, and the fog lifted, revealing the dominant topographical features of the region - lush, light green uluhe covered slopes, interspersed with clumps of 'ohi'a trees.The next ravine required slightly more effort to pass. At an old wooden bridge with no rungs, suspended 30 feet above surging Honokane Iki Stream (east branch), Mark opted to crawl over the structure on all fours. I, on the other hand, burdened with a heavy 45 pound pack, chose to backtrack and descend to the bottom of the gully then employ a rope to get to the other side of the bridge. Beyond the ravine, the trail straightened out (relatively speaking) through broad terrain. Mark noticed feral cattle tracks/dung and pointed them out to me.Shortly before 1 pm, we reached the KDT/Awini Trail junction at the top of a eucalyptus forest. We descended briefly to have a closer look at AWINI HALE, a rustic cabin nestled amongst the eucalyptus, then returned to the trail junction.After winding in and out of three ravines and a prominent gully choked with ginger, featuring fast flowing Waipahi Stream, Mark and I arrived at a broad grassy area and the location of a lone, tall norfolk island pine (good spot to camp).As we entered Honokea Valley, Mark and I paused to enjoy a nice vista between 'ohi'a lehua trees of the valley floor far below stretching to the ocean, sea cliffs framing the front of the valley. Continuing on, we walked past a series of small, lovely waterfalls situated above and below the trail, crossed rushing Honokea Stream, and, while exiting Honokea via one switchback, delighted in the sight of a high cascade (fed by the series of waterfalls we had passed earlier) on the opposite side of the valley.Leaving Honokea behind, the two of us contoured in and out of 5 additional gullies.Upon rounding the bend in the KDT that leads to the first awesome overlook of Honopue Valley at 2:55 pm, we stopped dead in our tracks to gawk at the incredible sights. A narrow, 1600-foot cascade existed on the other side of the valley a short distance mauka of another cabin (nestled on the crest of Honopue's east wall), and a second high waterfall could be seen some distance makai of the cabin. When contouring well above the valley floor, I had to halt on several occasions to take in the spectacular view of the stream and verdant valley floor far below as they stretched to the ocean, the valley's origin framed by near vertical sea cliffs.Deeper into the glen, the walls of Honopue closed in, transforming the valley into a gorge, and yet another high cascade plunging hundreds of feet became visible.To get to the east wall, Mark and I took turns carefully tramping across a narrow 30-foot-long bridge suspended two hundred feet above surging Honopue Stream. A sign attached to the trestle which read "Bridge Unsafe" certainly didn't boost our confidence in the elevated structure. However, the catwalk appeared in much better shape than its predecessor - an old, decaying wooden bridge.Ultimately, the two of us arrived at the grassy lawn fronting the cabin (elev. 2,045 ft) at 4:47 pm, which afforded a magnificent vista of Honopue's verdant west wall (two clumps of tall loulu palms and a copious amount of kukui trees clinging to the side), the valley floor stretching to the sea cliff frame, waves breaking into the mouth of Honopue Stream, much of the North Kohala coast, the vast Pacific Ocean off the coast, and, in the distance, the island of Maui from Hana to Haleakala. Both of us stretched out on the lawn in the late afternoon sunshine to relax and enjoy the view before commencing the task of erecting our temporary shelters.Later, Mark and I witnessed a beautiful sunset. As darkness set in and the temperature dropped, I donned a red REI sweater once owned by John Hall to keep warm. Perhaps Professor Hall wore the same item of clothing during his 1977 Kohala Ditch trek.Overcast conditions prevailed, thus greatly limiting star-gazing opportunities, and passing trade showers soaked the region, the beacon of light emanating from the North Kohala lighthouse visible in the distance.== Saturday, July 6, 2002 "A day hike to the end of the KDT (and powerful Waikaloa Falls)"A leisurely morning ensued, Mark lounging on the lawn preparing breakfast while I paid a visit to the spot on the trail where a stream fed the 1600-foot cascade, to fetch water, shave, and experience getting drenched in a small cascade.By 9:45 am we finally had our act together for a day hike and headed east with the goal of reaching the very end of the KDT. It felt so good to travel minus a heavy backpack. A short distance beyond the cabin, the two of us entered the first prominent gully, which contained an old wooden bridge supporting a rusted out ditch and a gentle stream pouring over a dam backed by ginger feeding a small but lovely pool. Next, we traversed a broad area, frightening a black wild boar in the process.Kolealiilii Gulch followed and featured a nicely flowing stream along with a swimming hole just below the stream crossing. As we started penetrating Oniu Gulch, Mark and I certainly noticed the sight and smell of pig dung on the trail. Oniu had two pipes stretching across the stream and included picturesque pools fed by tiny waterfalls surrounded by ginger.While inside Paohia Gulch, Mark recognized a small frog near the stream crossing and brought his finding to my attention. After Paohia came a relatively straight section through broad terrain. A few gardenia trees, complete with pretty white fragrant flowers, were situated along the footpath in this region, and I couldn't help but think of my friend Charlotte Yamane, who loves gardenia flowers.Comprised of steep walls, thick stands of guava and a powerful stream, Ohiahuea Gorge was the location of another skinny suspension brige, the newer version adjacent to the wooden original.From Ohiahuea, Mark and I wound in and out of 6 more gullies then began tramping into Waikaloa Gorge. We skirted a major landslide (the end of the KDT according to the map) and penetrated deep inside the canyon above powerful Waikaloa Stream. The trail narrowed considerably, and, upon descending to the river, we discovered a collapsed suspension bridge similar to the ones we'd already crossed and that the footpath contoured gradually up the east wall. We forded coffee colored Waikaloa Stream, continued along the KDT until it became badly choked with 'uluhe lau nui ferns, then, at 12:45 pm, decided to bail on the idea of going any farther.As a consolation, the two of us backtracked to the river and rock hopped up stream a distance until arriving at the base of pool fed by a powerful 15-foot waterfall. I immediately jumped into the swimming hole and tried to frolic in the water directly below the falls, but it was just too much (I felt the force of the deluge holding me under). Undaunted, I climbed to the right of the falls, crawled behind it and experienced what surfers desire when they attempt the north shore pipeline in the winter months - a wall of water flowing right in front of my face. Way cool! Mark said later that he could not see me behind the falls. I also produced some primal noises and delighted in a soothing massage afforded by the falls prior to joining Mark in front of the pool.At 2 pm Mark and I commenced the return leg down Waikaloa Stream and along the KDT to the cabin above Honopue Valley, gaining pleasure from the beautiful afternoon weather en route. When we reached the grassy lawn fronting the cottage at 4:39 pm, the two of us opted to kick back for the remainder of the day rather than doing another hike.Despite the less than ideal sunset and cooler temperatures than the previous evening, the night sky provided excellent star-gazing. Notwithstanding, clouds eventually moved in bringing passing trade showers, which motivated me to retire to the dry confines of my tent.== Sunday, July 7, 2002 "Out the coast! Honopue Valley to the Pololu Valley Lookout"Morning showers helped expedite the packing process, and at approx. 8:30 am, Mark and I departed the cabin bound for the spot well above Pololu Beach where our pilgrimage had begun a few days earlier.Once again, we carefully negotiated the narrow suspension brige in the back of Honopue, fog engulfing the gorge, giving the region an erie feel. However, as the two of us contoured out of the canyon along the steep west wall, we emerged from the clouds and enjoyed one last view of the 1600-foot cascade and the valley floor far below stretching to the sea cliff frame.By 11:30 am Mark and I had retraced our steps to the KDT/Awini Trail junction at the top of the eucalyptus forest and stopped there for a break. A blister on Mark's right foot had finally burst, requiring immediate medical attention. The weather: no rain but no sunshine either, a nice breeze, high overcast and good views of the ocean in the distance.Pressing on at noon, the two of us gradually descended a broad ridge via the Awini Trail past AWINI HALE, through an open gate between a line of tall eucalyptus, and past an 'ohi'a forest on the right (the sound of native birds clearly audible). While contouring into a gulch, we crossed a wide, wooden bridge suspended over a nicely flowing stream, and, farther makai, I recognized tall juniper trees lining the left side of the footpath. Unfortunately, this pleasant section transitioned to a dark, muddy stretch dominated by thick stands of guava and rose apple, with ample evidence of wild boar habitation.As the Awini Trail neared the ocean, it began paralleling the coast, hala trees growing on both sides of the footpath. Mark and I then descended to Honokane Iki Stream via three long switchbacks, forded the waterway and passed yet another rustic cabin en route to a lovely campsite on a shaded mound above a scant black-sand beach fronting a small but secluded bay at the mouth of Honokane Iki Stream. Quoting a short excerpt from John Hall's write-up of his 1977 Kohala Ditch trip,"Cliffs lined the sides of the little inlet, and coconut palms graced the shore at the head. In all, it would be hard to find a more beautiful and tranquil camping spot."**
This being our final day of the trek, Mark and I did not have the luxury of camping here; instead, we spent over an hour relaxing/napping on the mound, gazing at the powerful surf rolling into the cove and the white wake of waves washing upon the black-sand beach.Leaving Honokane Iki Bay behind, we started climbing out of the valley at 3:30 pm via the first of three switchbacks. A short distance below the crest of the ridge that separates Honokane Iki from Honokane Nui, we encountered our first humans, a young couple on a day hike of the coast.At the top of the ridge, Mark and I enjoyed a superb vista of the rugged, towering sea cliff located on the east wall of Honokane Iki Bay and Paokalani Island behind it a short distance off shore, as well as an excellent view of the rocky sea cliffs along the coast toward Pololu Valley all the way to Akoakoa Point.  After descending to the floor of Honokane Nui Valley, working through a thick bamboo forest and crossing wide Honokane Nui Stream, the two of us stopped for another break. More bamboo followed, replaced by a mixed forest of Christmas berry and java plum. We exited the valley via three switchbacks and at the crest of the ridge were again treated to fine views of an impressive sea cliff, Paokalani Island, waves breaking just off of rocky Honokane Nui Beach, and the copse of tall ironwoods behind the beach.An open, windy, twisting section of trail ensued, then Mark and I descended to the long ironwood grove behind Pololu Beach via several switchbacks. At 5:35 pm the two of us reached the mouth of the Pololu estuary and sat down on the rocks behind the black-sand beach. We observed a couple frolicking in the ocean just beyond the shore break, and a father with his young son walking along the coast toward the ironwoods. When the couple passed me on their way to the lookout, we exchanged greetings and I asked how their swim went. "Great! The water is warm!" the wahine replied, so I decided to go for a brief swim myself.Mark commenced the final ascent of our trip to the Pololu Lookout at 6:15 pm, and I did the same as soon as I had towled off from the invigorating dip.The climb of the State DLNR Pololu Trail switchbacks served as the exclamation point to our trek. At least 2 gushing waterfalls could be seen in the distance pouring down the rocky, sheer sea cliffs into the Pacific Ocean. The islands off the coast, the white wake of waves cruising onto black-sand Pololu Beach almost directly below and a terrific vista of Pololu Valley stretching toward the summit of the Kohala Mountain Range also visible.As I gazed toward the upper reaches of Pololu Valley, I thought to myself, "We were back there a few days ago".Finally, at 6:46 pm I met Mark at the Pololu Valley Lookout adjacent to the rental car (it was right where I parked it and completely undamaged!). We loaded our packs into the vehicle and sped off, bound for a convenience store in Kawaihae to consume dinner, and, later, an overnight stay at nearby Spencer Beach Park.Notes:The windward Kohala Mountains average 150 inches of rain per year, so "Summer (May-October) is the best time of year to take this trip. The weather is usually drier then, and the streams are easier to cross. Whenever you go, be prepared for rain and high water."*The rustic cabins Mark and I discovered along the trail are privately owned, and I've been informed that the owners do not welcome uninvited backpackers. Fortunately for Mark and I, the cottages were unoccupied during our trip. Otherwise, we would most certainly have been told to leave.Hawaii Forest & Trail, an eco-tour company on the Big Island, conducts day hikes to Kapoloa Falls twice daily, the first starting at approx. 8:30 am from the Pololu Valley Lookout. Unless the reader of this literary work desires to mingle with tourists, it is a good idea to get an early start to avoid encountering this group.Mahalo:To Stuart Ball for providing a topo map of the region which contained excellent information (i.e. campsites, important landmarks, water sources, etc.).To Mark Short for being a terrific backpacking parter and an adept map reader. So where shall we go next, Mark? :-)REFERENCES* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.A History of the Kohala Ditch written by Michael Gomes, Waimea Gazette, September 1987, Pages 12-15.** Hall, John B., "Hiking the Kohala Ditch". Along the Trail The Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Club Newsletter, January - February - March 2002. Richard McMahon, Editor.PAU

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kalihi Saddle to Kahuauli

Photo by Jason Sunada

Hawaii hiking legend Dick Davis called the section of the Koolau Range from the Kalihi Saddle (which is above the Likelike Tunnels) to the summit of Pu'u Kahuauli (terminus of the Bowman Trail) as no-man's land. It seems likely, however, that Pete Clines and/or the most recent incarnation of hiking daredevils will give this a go and complete it.

If and when that happens, I look forward to their report.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Traversing the divide between Wailau and Halawa Valleys -- John Hall

One of the earliest outer island trips I took with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club was a short jaunt to Moloka`i sometime in the early 1960`s. We flew to Moloka`i and were driven to Halawa Valley. There we donned our packs and hiked up the jeep road that runs north, parallel to the coast, climbs into the hills above Lamaloa Head and then winds for 4 or 5 miles through the hills above the north shore of the island until it ends in range land at the edge of scrubby native forest near a small peak called Pohakuloa. Here we camped in the cow pasture.

I had some difficulty in finding a place to sling my hammock, since the pasture was essentially treeless, but I finally found a small dry wash with the stumps of long dead trees at appropriate distances apart on either side, and hung my hammock across this. In all, it was not a very exciting overnighter, but what did attract my interest was the fact that this campsite seemed to offer an excellent jumping-off point for some cross-country exploration of one of the most remote, unvisited areas of Moloka`i. This pasture was near the headwaters of the streams that flow through Halawa Valley, and by circling the water-shed, we could hike along the divide between the head of Halawa and the side wall of Wailau Valley.

The high point on this divide is an unnamed peak at 3627 ft. elevation on the wall of Wailau. From here, we would be able to continue along the rim over Pu`u Ohelo and on to where the Wailau trail comes up across the ranchlands below and drops down the sheer back wall of Wailau Valley. Alternatively, it appeared that turning right at the 3627 ft. peak and following the rim of Wailau would bring us down the narrow, steep, but (on the map) passable-looking Kukuinui Ridge between Wailau Valley and the small side valley through which Kahawaiiki Stream flows, and allow us to access the floor of Wailau Valley almost at the valley mouth. Much to my regret, I never got around to exploring this route.

A few years later, in July of 1976, I finally organized a trip to visit this backcountry. I was able to interest two companions in this trip. The first was Bill Scatchard who hiked with HTMC for a few years in the 1960`s and 1970`s, and who, with John Robinson, was to join me on my first trip down the Southwest Rift of Mauna Loa, as well as on some lesser adventures. The other chap was a young graduate student in biochemistry at UH Manoa, whose name, I think, was Rolland, though I am not sure, as he left the Department after a year or less, so I did not know him for long. He claimed to have had a lot of backpacking experience, although when he showed up for the trip with a Boy Scout knapsack instead of a regular backpack, I began to doubt this.

I had been into Wailau at least once in the meantime, so I was familiar with the trail that drops down the back wall of this valley. We flew to Moloka`i, and somehow made our way to Halawa Valley, where we camped for the night. There was a young haole fellow hanging out in the neighborhood who apparently lived near by and seemed to feel he knew the country pretty well. He asked what we were planning, but on being told said, "Oh you can`t do that! That`s impossible. No one`s ever done that." I had been told such things before, but never let it discourage me. He also said that the two husky young Hawaiian fellows who were living in a small trailer at the side of the mouth of Halawa Stream, were caretakers for the ranch that owned the property we would cross, and he thought they probably would tell us we couldn`t go up there if we asked. We hadn`t gone to all the trouble to plan the tripand travel to Moloka`i to be thwarted at this point, however, so to avoid any problems, we decided not to ask. Instead, we got up hours before dawn the next day, ate a hasty breakfast, packed up quietly, and headed up the jeep road, hoping to get off the working ranch property and into the bush before anyone came to tell us we shouldn`t be there.

There were no cattle in sight, but we did not escape entirely unnoticed. A small black and white dog, hardly more than a puppy, had apparently been abandoned at Halawa, and he attached himself to our party. I don`t know if one of my friends fed him the evening before, or if he was just desperate for company, but nothing we could do would discourage him from following us. As usual, in an exploratory backpack of this kind, we were traveling as light as possible, and were not carrying any extra food; certainly not enough extra to feed a dog for a week. But he had no collar and we could hardly tie up an animal in the wilderness, even in Halawa Valley, not knowing if anyone would release him once we were gone.

We hiked up the jeep road in the early dawn light without incident. When we reached the pasturelands, our companion dashed off barking, and chased one of the axis deer that infest the island into the bush. It was still early in the day when we reached the end of the ranch lands and pushed into the native bush. I had laid out a few compass bearings on the map, but as long as we stayed on the divide and avoided dropping down into one of the gulches, we should be on course. We made slow progress through dense, but not very high brush through the day. I don`t recall using a machete, but I am sure we must have been carrying such implements for an exploratory, off-trail trip of this kind. The clouds hung low on the mountains above us, obscuring the view of our objective.

In the late afternoon, I became convinced that we were veering off course for the route up peak 3627, and wanted to cross some of the small gullies to our right to proceed in the right direction. Bill and Roland disagreed, and when I got out my compass, I discovered that my sense of direction was really awry, and I had wanted to go off at an angle of almost 90 degrees to the right of the correct course! It was getting late, so after continuing up the ridge a little farther, we looked about for a campsite. My companions cleared a patch out of the brush for their tent, and I dropped down into the sturdier trees on the side of the ridge to find a spot for my hammock.

The next day we reached the summit of peak 3627 without incident. We were then in the clouds, and it drizzled off and on throughout the day. Most of the route between this peak and Pu`u Ohelo was relatively level plateau country, with the rim of Wailau Valley dropping off steeply to our right. It was boggy and open, but relatively easy walking, if rather wet and sloppy. We had walked for a ways across this terrain, when we heard a great commotion as the young dog began yapping frantically somewhere out of sight in the dense mist. A moment later, with stately tread, a large, majestic sow minced ponderously out of the fog. She was the size of a bathtub, as broad as she was tall, with a regal air and imperturbable presence. She deigned to bestow a haughty glance on our humble persons, but seeing in us nothing of consequence to her scheme of things, continued with her solemn promenade and soon vanished once more into the mist. Meanwhile, the little dog danced in excited circles around her, yelping madly, a performance to which she paid no more attention than a limousine would accord to an importunate gnat. And so ended our brief audience with the Queen of the Moloka`i Bogs!

There were pools of water scattered across this country, some up to 5 or 6 feet across, but only a few inches deep. In one of these I noticed a strange plant that I had never seen before, and have not seen since. It was shaped like a miniature, frilly green umbrella, about an inch or inch and a half high, and looked very like the textbook pictures of Acetabularia, a giant unicellular alga that was very popular with experimental biologists 60 years ago for studies on nuclear-cytoplasmic relationships. Unfortunately, I had no way to preserve it, and so brought no samples home. Since then, I`ve often carried a few vials of alcohol with me on such explorations, but have rarely found anything I wanted to collect.
We hiked on to the summit of Pu`u Ohelo and decided to continue on to the junction with the Wailau trail before camping for the night. We followed what we thought was the rim of Wailau Valley, but it seemed to be bending too far east and turning into a ridge, although in the mist it was hard to be sure. We finally backtracked to the summit of Pu`u Ohelo and camped for the night. I found a sheltered nook among some trees for my hammock, and the other two set up their tent. It continued to drizzle. In the morning we decided that perhaps we had not gone far enough, so we once more tried to skirt the edge of Wailau to trace it around to the back wall of the valley. We descended the slope even further than we had gone the night before, and eventually got below the clouds, to where we could see that we were definitely hiking down an easterly ridge that ran parallel to other ridges and was heading toward the sea on the southeast coast of Moloka`i. Feeling baffled, we retraced our steps, watching closely for any sign of a route off the mountain that would keep us on the rim of Wailau.

Shortly before we reached the site of our camp, I noticed a heavily used pig trail dropping steeply down the cliff. It looked like it was descending the sidewall of Wailau Valley, but I knew of no passable route to the valley floor in this area, and believed that the pigs probably stayed on the rim also, so we decided to follow this path. It was a steep, difficult scramble for a hundred feet or more, but if the pigs could do it, we knew that we could follow, even with our packs. After a bit, the grade began to ease somewhat. As we proceeded, the weather improved and the clouds lifted briefly, enough to show us that we were, in fact, following the rim of the valley. By noon we were at the junction with the trail that dropped steeply into the back of Wailau Valley itself.

At this point, Rolland announced that he was going to leave us. Apparently, his boots did not fit properly and had been giving him a great deal of pain. We were sorry to loose him, and apprehensive about letting someone hike out of the backcountry alone. However, Bill and I had planned to spend the better part of a week in Wailau Valley, and really didn`t want to cut the trip short after only 3 days. In addition, Rolland would be in ranch country within a mile or so, so the risks appeared to be minimal. Fortunately, he got back to town without any problems. After lunch, Bill and I began the scramble down the nearly vertical trail. By midafternoon we reached Waiakeakua Stream at the foot of the wall, and set up camp for the night. I laid out my food bags while preparing supper, and while putting them away afterward, I noticed that a bag of gorp, containing raisons, nuts, and a little cheese, was missing. Apparently, our canine companion, who must havebeen very hungry by now, had made off with it. It didn`t seem like much, but I had planned my menu for this trip so closely that I really missed it. This was one of the few trips I have taken in which I was constantly hungry for most of the last few days. I was very careful with my food stash after this!

In the morning we hiked on down to the valley mouth and set up camp in a pleasant grove of guavas. I have made several trips to Wailau, at least two with Kazuo Yamaguchi, I believe, in addition to this one, and the incidents of different trips tend to mingle in my mind. I recall that one time Yamaguchi and I arrived in the valley just at the end of one of Lorin Gill`s Sierra Club Service Projects. About 30 Sierra Club people had come in, hard on the heels of a group from a school in Waimea on the Big Island, if I recall correctly. Unfortunately, the school group had a member who was harboring a case of Shigella, an intestinal bacterium that causes rather severe dysentery. The rains were heavy and the river over-flowed while both groups were there, which meant that the bacteria were washed out of the poorly-sited latrine area used by the school group and were spread through the water supply. Practically all members of both parties became sick. The school group had been evacuated some days before we arrived, but the Sierra Club people were present and thoroughly miserable. Fortunately, we were able to avoid contracting the disease.

It rained the first night that Bill and I camped at the valley mouth. Bill had bedded down on a lovely patch of soft grass among the trees, and I was awakened during the night by a sudden outburst of profanity and commotion. We were apparently in a low spot and several inches of water were flowing briskly through Bill`s bed. My hammock was well above the water, of course, but I had to get up and make sure that none of my gear was floating away. The next morning we moved to higher ground.
We spent several days in Wailau. One day I climbed the ridge that parallels the beach above the small, relatively level, hala-covered peninsula called Waiehu. A hippie couple had constructed a neat bamboo and tarp hut on the ridge, near its foot, in a lovely location with views of both the ocean and up the valley. Near the top I had a difficult scramble up a steep, grass-covered slope that brought me to the lower corner of the isolated, triangular, Olokui plateau, probably one of the most undisturbed areas in the islands, surrounded as it is by the steep cliffs that form the sides of Pelekunu and Wailau Valleys, and possibly not even inhabited by pigs or goats, though I am not certain ofthis. If so, it should be of great botanical interest, and I believe that Dr. St. John did do some collecting there. I always meant to return to explore it some day. I had approached it rather casually this time, not planning to go to the top at all, and had brought no supplies, perhaps not even a water bottle. Much to my regret, I never did get back to it, however.

There were other people living in the valley also, which is quite large, probably nearly the size of Manoa Valley when all its reaches are considered. One chap, who seemed to be by himself, was quite friendly. He solved one problem for us by agreeing to adopt the young dog that was still following us. I was visiting him alone one morning while waiting for Bill to finish getting ready for a day hike up the Kahawaiiki Stream, which drained the major amphitheater-like side valley at the mouth of Wailau. The hippies had given him a sponge cake, and he offered me a hearty slice. I noticed it had flecks of green in it, and assumed that they had spiced it with some kind of herb. It was quite delicious, and as mentioned previously, this was a hungry trip for me, so when he offered me a second piece, I was happy to accept. I thought he had a rather sly look about him, but could not imagine what it was he found amusing.
I soon began to realize that the green flecks were bits of pakalolo that had been baked into the cake I had received a fairly potent dose! This is the only time I have ever indulged in an illicit drug to the extent that I actually got high from it. Unfortunately, I was not able to relax and enjoy the sensation, since Bill appeared, and I was forced to devote all my attention to my feet as we rock-hopped up the stream and explored Kahawaiiki Valley. By the time we reached aplace where I could relax, the effect had worn off.

At this time, the streams in Wailau were teeming with hihiwai, the freshwater mollusk that is sometimes called fresh-water opihi. There were half a dozen on every rock, and we could have collected a quart very easily from almost any square yard of streambed. The Naki family, who own property in the Valley, I believe, came in every summer to fish, and later they harvested the hihiwai to the point where few were to be seen in the streams when I went in on later trips. In later years, Yamaguchi and Herman Medeiros carried out another trip that I had long planned, but never did do--the hike up Pelekunu Valley to the low point of the saddle on Pohakaunoho Ridge, which connects Pu`u Olokui to the Kamakou summit of Moloka`i, and then down Pulena Stream, a tributary of Wailau. Dick Davis had done this years before, with Joyce Davis and some other people, I believe. He saw the Malahini Cave (as spelled on my map--probably meant to be Malihini) while it was still intact, I think, but it was destroyed in a landslide soon afterward. Yamaguchi said that the descent of Pulena Stream was an extremely arduous one. The brush above the stream was too thick to penetrate and the terrain extremely rough, with sheer-walled side gulches dropping down to the stream making it impossible to hike parallel to it. They had to follow the stream itself, rock-hopping where possible, but often having to bag their packs to float them across deep pools while swimming behind them, and scrambling down treacherous falls. I wish I had been with them, but I think I was overseas on one of my sabbatical trips when they did it.

After 5 or 6 nights in Wailau Valley, Bill and I hiked back up to the rear and over the pali to home.