OHE December 10, 1999 (Kaaawa Valley)

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 02:32:38 -1000
From: Roger Sorrell (alohaboys@attglobal.net>
Subject: Weekly e-letter

Description of Solemates hike, 12-8-99:

Fantasy Valley

New experiences can often amaze us and change our view of reality. Little did Solemates and the Over the Hill Gang realize what was ahead of them when they entered the apparently benign realm of the Kualoa Ranch. All was innocent and easy as we were shepherded in by the competent guidance of our still-bandaged John, and by Barbara, the guide appointed by the Ranch. Barbara began to orient us and discuss what was ahead for us on our eight-mile hike. At that point we found it easy to disregard ugly rumors of "charging cattle", though we did make sure we had our pocketbooks with us. We laughed off stories of Jurassic Park and Godzilla. Hmmm!

We swiftly felt we were entering a new sphere of existence, however, when just a few minutes out of the corrals, we suddenly gained an unexpectedly grand view of the ocean, fishponds, Chinaman's Hat, and were informed that this island was in fact the end of a dragon's tale, with the huge peaks looming over us (topped by Pu'u Kanehoalani above the ranch) being the dragon/lizard. As we began to contemplate whether this was still more evidence for the reptilian memory of humankind (since there were no lizards in Hawai'i when the Hawaiians came), we were jarred out of our reverie by the X-rated story of the sharp pinnacle in the peaks behind us--something about a young Hawaiian hero being smitten by a maiden washed up on the beach below... Then, suddenly we rubbed our eyes in disbelief as we spotted a "palace" down there-one of the stage sets left over from Fantasy Island filming. A wedding spot, apparently. Sure. We see these all the time on our hikes. No problem.

At this point, most of us gave up any pretense that this was going to be a normal hike. We tramped through cow pastures, stylishly avoiding the unfamiliar hazards of manure piles, and attempting to focus on the beautiful views instead. Our usual "summiteers" raced ahead several times, but their efforts came to naught as they at last realized that only Barbara really knew what she was doing in this brave new world. And then, she left us!! (Apparently to escort older hikers back as they became tired.) Dubious about trusting John, even though he kept saying, "I have a map! I have a map!", we flailed around in the bush overlooking Hakipu'u Valley. Still, our childlike trust of him returned as we indeed found our way to a realistic looking, though muddy, saddle and crossed over into the back end of Ka'a'awa Valley. We found this reality just another portal to beguilement, however, as we slipped and slid our way to the lunch "pavilion", with its sweeping views of Pu'u Ohulehule mauka, and makai to the crashing ocean at the front of the valley.

The concrete matters of lunch lured us into the belief that all was back to normal, in spite of the fact that some of us noticed a mysterious horseman appearing, and then disappearing, on the path below. Still, we jauntily started off again, confident that this wide trail through the valley would prove to be a task we could polish off easily. We had reckoned without the effect that this fantastic valley would produce. All too soon we were entranced by the sheer, majestic bulwarks of the multiple peaks, those natural cathedrals, dwarfing us on both sides as we unconsciously slowed our steps. We crossed an innocent stream just before coming upon the full awareness that here, in the middle of the valley, was Jurassic Park Country. As we relived vivid scenes of the movies, we came upon not velociraptors, but the famed charging cattle of Ka'a'awa Valley. Somewhat shaken by their staring curiosity and unpredictable movements, we were even more unnerved by what came next. Several hikers were loudly voicing their disappointment at not seeing the supposed "Godzilla's Footprint"--this, no doubt, to the fact that John Hall's supposed expertise was letting us down here--when, all of a sudden, "Whoa!" we nearly fell into what appeared to be a large pit. Horrified, we realized the "pit" had three huge toes! And then, we saw another "pit", and another! Four huge "footprints" tore across the placid valley grass!

By now quite shaken, we battled fierce wind and some transient rain showers at the front of the valley in an effort to regain the comparative safety of the reality of the ranch. But the sirens would not give up their hold on us so easily. As we rounded the bunkered headland, our curiosity lead us into disbelief again as some of us peeked into one of the locked bunkers and discovered--an art gallery! Totally nonplused, we agreed not to discuss that matter any further. Some began murmuring about what must have been in Brenda's brownies at lunch, only to have their suspicions confirmed as they then proceed to see, they stoutly maintained, an ostrich!

It was with a substantial amount of relief and a distinct silence that we regained the ranch and re-introduced ourselves to the solicitous Barbara. We responded courteously to her questions about our hiking experience, as we realized she was anxious to be sure everything had gone well. Surely, we thought, it wasn't her fault, and we weren't about to chance telling her about all of those things that we really must have just imagined. No, indeed, we agreed. It was Brenda's brownies!

Happy trails! David and Roger

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