OHE December 22, 1997

Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 15:20:39 -1000
From: Nathan Yuen (nyuen@lava.net>
Subject: Overgrown Halawa Summit Trail
(a slightly revised version of this has been posted to "soc.culture.hawaii")

The trail-clearing crew of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club (HTMC) was orginally scheduled to clear the Kuaokala trail yesterday which starts above Keawaula Bay in the Waianae Mountains and skirts the ridge along Makua Valley. But alas... the guard refused to let us in since the person who obtained the permit was not with us. As a result, our fearless leader Naomi Nasu (Mabel could not attend due to a previous commitment) decided that we should meet in Halawa Valley to assist the Siera Club in their efforts to clear the Halawa Summit Trail. So off we went to rendezvous in Halawa Valley.

When we reach the entrance to Halawa Valley, which is guarded by the Sheriff's Office, we were pleased that they let us in--all we had to do was sign-in. I had heard that since H-3 is completely operational, access to the trails and heiaus in Halawa are being permitted once again. Apparently these rumors are correct. Anyway... with Naomi leading the way, we began the walk along the road to reach the trail to the top of the ridge. In attendance were Grant Oka (and his daughter Georgiana), Ken Suzuki, Ralph Valentino, Carole Moon, Bill Gorst, Jay Feldman, June Miyasato, myself, and that famous woman hiker that Dayle idolizes who does not want mentioned on the net. Methinks if I know what's good for me, I ought not to utter her name here either. ;-) And alas... Dayle had been invited to an all-you-can-eat graduation party at Sam Choy's and had abandoned us in favor of that event. No doubt an extremely difficult decision for him. ;-)

Begining our ascent up the side of the ridge we could hear the loud sound of cars traveling along H-3 below until we reached the dirt road above Halawa Prison. After following the road for quite a ways we reached the marker set up by the U.S. Geological Survey which marks the trailhead. As we began our hike, I was surprised to see how choked the trail had become with vegetation such as 'uluhe, clidemia, strawberry guava, and that gawdawful lantana whose thorns scratch like the dickens! Noting the overgrown condition of the trail, we speculated that since access to Halawa Valley was severely limited for the past few years while H-3 was being constructed, the vegetation had choked the trail. In addition to being overgrown, many large fallen trees blocked the trail forcing us to climb over or crawl under them. The previous two trail-clearing expeditions I had been with this crew were a piece of cake compared to this one!

As we hiked along the contour trail hacking the vegetation all the while, we finally met up with the crew from the Sierra Club. Working together to saw and remove two trees which blocked the trail, we were removed the trees before stopping for the day. Given that we had a late start in the morning and that we devoted much of our time clearing the trail, we alas... were not anywhere even close to the summit. We were, however, treated to the sight of quite a few interesting endemic plants which Ken, our resident plant expert, pointed out along the trail such as pukiawe with their tiny leaves that grow in a whorling pattern around the central stem amidst vibrantly colored crimson berries, kulumoa (Hawaiian mistletoe) which grows as a parasite on the branches of trees which as ohia ha and koa, and kupiko which their unusual spiracles on the underside of their leaves. It's so nice to learn all this neat stuff from these knowledgable people.

Anyway, we'll be going back another time to complete the trail-clearing effort to the summit. What we really need is for someone with a chain-saw to remove all the fallen trees. Now that the Sheriff's Office will be opening-up the valley again, we need to clear the trails so that we hike unimpedided to enjoy what's left of Halawa Valley.

P.S. Given that this was my third time with the trail-clearing crew of the HTMC, I am just exuberant to report that I am now eligible to be a member! And... I even managed to finagle a couple of the more gullible members into signing my application and vouching for my character. ;-)

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