OHE December 26, 1998 (Reef Runway)

Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 19:30:55 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Reef Runway hike

After being laid up for awhile, my buddy Bill Melemai wanted to get in a hike (he's in recovery mode after a recent operation), and I suggested the trail around the Reef Runway because there's some distance to it (about 6 miles roundtrip) and it's not overly taxing (not a hill to speak of).

At a little past nine this morning, we met near the end of Lagoon Drive, where we parked our vehicles near the Reef Runway fire station. Also along was Bill's son Willy, a strapping 6-3, 180-pounder, who's a 13-year-old eighth grader at Kamehameha. Willy gave me an autographed program from a basketball tournament he'd just played in and where he earned MVP honors to boot. I told him I'd certainly hold onto this gift because if he ever makes it into the NBA, I'll be able to cash in the program for big bucks!

It was a beautiful day to hike, with not a single cloud anywhere near the crests of the Waianae and Koolau ranges. Plus, a steady trade wind breeze helped us stay relatively cool on this treeless trail.

Except for a couple muddy stretches, the trail is sidewalk-like and without obstacles, making for easy walking, perfect for folks with kids, for older people, or for people who want to jog or even ride bikes. Fisherman regularly use the trail to get to some pretty decent fishing grounds on the open ocean-facing side of the reef runway, and many ride mountain bikes to cut down on the travel time.

When we reached the segment that skirts around the Diamond head end of the runway, we left the trail and walked along a debris-strewn sandy beach. It was interesting to check out the items that had washed up on the shore, including dozens of plastic and glass bottles, driftwood of all types and sizes, a variety of rubber balls, and a miscellany of other cast-off items.

Continuing on, we passed a couple of fisherman hiking back toward Lagoon Drive. In the near offshore waters was a guy in a kayak, a guy with a lookbox poking around for fish, and folks in a couple of small motor boats cruising along just outside the reef. Meanwhile, Bill, Willy, and I continued hiking along while a steady parade of aircraft lifted off a hundred yards or so from us on the runway.

There is a nice stretch of sandy beach along the outer segment of the runway trail, and we passed some places that have been used as campsites by fishermen. Also, we noticed several dead eels hanging from the fence along the trail and wondered why fishermen would string up these creatures like that.

Beyond the sandy beach segment is a quarter mile stretch of large boulders piled up as a breakwater. At the beginning of the breakwater is a low rockwall that serves as a windbreak and campsite and we paused there for a break and to check out the swells rolling to shore and slapping against the boulders.

From that windbreak, the end of the trail is about five minutes away. The terminus is where a fence blocks further progress. At that point, we climbed boulders to the top of the breakwater and spent 20 minutes resting and watching aircraft land and takeoff. I also wondered how quickly a security patrol would be on us if we went beyond the fence, and Bill guessed that it wouldn't take long at all.

But of course we stayed on the legal side of the fence and after our rest stop was complete, we made the long, level hike back to our cars on Lagoon Drive, passing a couple of fisherman on bikes and three other folks headed where we had been.

I should note that someone has done a good job of clearing back the thorny kiawe-like bushes that once lined a good portion of the trail. We also passed an older couple who were picking up trash along the trail. Mahalo to these folks for doing their part to keep the trail clear.

I hope everyone had a pleasant Saturday.


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