OHE April 12, 1999 (Likeke)

Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 23:16:07 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Likeke and other musings

Certainly, Richard Davis is one of the top trailblazers of modern Hawaii, if not the top. A resident of Oahu's windward side, Davis, now in his 80s, is credited with ramrodding routes close to his Kaneohe home like the Maunawili Demonstration Trail and Ulupaina, near Kahaluu. He is credited, of course, with trail pioneering work elsewhere on Oahu and even the neighbor islands. However, it is of his namesake trail, Likeke, and related musings thereof, which I'll write.

I hiked Likeke most recently this past Saturday, joining a small crew of volunteers to clear the trail for a Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club outing that same morning. Over thirty hikers turned out for the trek, which was organized as a five-mile loop that began and ended at Hoomaluhia Gardens.

Though not of the same ilk as legendary ridge routes like Olomana, Kalena, and Ohikilolo, the Likeke Trail, situated at the base of the windward Koolaus between the Pali and Wilson Tunnels, is nevertheless a fine example of a man's hard work and love for the mountains of Hawaii. A few years ago, I happened on Davis as he did pick and shovel work on one of the contour sections of Likeke near the Wilson Tunnel. He was at least 80 then, yet he worked with the energy and enthusiasm of one half that age. And he labored without assistance, content with the company of his digging tools, his chainsaw, his trademark pipe, and the slopes of the verdant Koolaus.

In our conversation, I sensed sadness when he noted that his advancing age might ultimately limit the amount of time he can spend on trails he has worked hard to scout, carve out, and maintain. Fortunately, the Trail and Mountain Club conducts outings on Likeke with steady regularity, and these outings, and the work of the club's trail maintenance crew and assorted volunteers, will help to keep the trail from losing itself to the mud and flora from which it was honed.

Sometimes I try to imagine what Hawaii will be like forty years from now when I'm Davis' age. I must admit the visions aren't always rosy. Perhaps the Koolau and Waianae Ranges as we know them will be crisscrossed with paved sidewalks where people deposit a wad of bucks--or whatever incarnation monetary compensation has evolved--to gain access through entrance gates situated at various trailheads around Oahu.

Perhaps hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, or whatever they'll be called then, will ascend to routes like Pu'u Manamana via something like the Haiku Stairs, but the 2040 version of the stairs will have an escalator option (for the non-exercise-inclined) and be plexi-glass-enclosed (to keep people from picking or tramping upon rare native plant species).

Or perhaps no one will actually hike anymore, with on-the-trail experiences recreated with virtual reality chambers where folks simulate the rigors of hiking by tramping on stairmasters/treadmills while being inundated with sensory input from electrodes attached to their bodies.

Hopefully, this somber milieu will never transpire, and we, our children, our children's children, and on and on, will be hiking Likeke and other Hawaii trails for centuries hence.

And what of the legacy of Davis? A Chinese proverb tells us that when a leopard dies, he leaves his skin, and when a man dies, he leaves his reputation. If the above is true, when Richard Davis leaves this earth, for generations thereafter his reputation as a mountain man and trailblazer extraordinaire will be spoken of with fascination and reverence.


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