OHE July 30, 1998 (b)

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 21:13:50 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Speaking of pau hana hikes...

Art asked about pau hana hikes, and Pat and I did a short one this afternoon which I probably wouldn't have written about save for an unusual ending.

Paka and I are heading for the Big Island to hike Mauna Loa on Sunday, and Pat wanted to log some time with a heavy pack before we go. We agreed to meet after work at Castle Junction on the windward side where we'd begin our hike. After parking our vehicles on the side road by the large memorial stone, we shoved off at 4:45

As we began hiking up Pali Highway bound for the hairpin turn and the head of the Maunwili Demo Trail, Pat remarked how conspicuous we looked--he with large, heavy pack and I with cleated football shoes. Just as we were laughing about it, we heard the honk of a car horn from none other than HTMC vet Doug "Dusty" Klein, who was waiting for a green light at the Pali/Kam Hwy intersection. We waved to Dusty and wife Sandy, remarking to ourselves that the Kleins must be wondering where the heck we were headed.

The walk up the highway didn't take long, and Pat and I talked about the upcoming hike of Mauna Loa and what to expect. We also had a nice view of Piliwale ridge in profile, but no plans to climb it were discussed.

Once we reached the start point of the demo trail, we climbed up its initial forest section and continued on the connecting trail toward the Pali Lookout. We hiked up to the lookout on the Old Pali Road, greeting a handful of tourists checking out the view there.

On the way back down, we headed right up a ravine with a small stream where some remnants of a plane wreck lay. Near the beginning on the left is a faint trail heading up a crease in the steep hillside. About half way up the crease is a rope someone has affixed to a tree further upslope. Pat was excited by the sight of the rope but the heavy pack and late hour squelched any inkling to climb it today.

After checking out the waterfall at the end of the ravine (and some Wingo-like ribbons on the slope on the right), we backtracked to the Old Pali Road. Instead of retracing our approach past the Demo Trail and along Pali Highway, we took the trail that passes under the Pali viaduct and reconnects with old road on the makai-facing side of the highway.

We checked out a bunch of colorful graffiti painted on the pillars under the highway, some quite well conceived. Continuing on, we moved down the old road with the roar of cars on Pali Highway high above us now.

In a few minutes we arrived at a junction where we turned left on an unused segment of Auloa Road, which led back to Pali Highway about 100 yards beyond Castle Junction. The walk down Auloa was uneventful until we reached the gate and concrete barriers that blocked off vehicular access.

As we approached the gate, I spotted some movement about 50 yards down the road. I then heard a grunting/whining sound from an animal. "It's a dog," said Paka. "Pua'a," I countered.

Indeed, a pua'a it was, a blackish/grey 50-pound female, as it turned out.

Paka and I stood frozen, watching the pig, waiting to see if it detected us. When I shuffled my foot just slightly, the pua'a stopped and wheeled around to face us. The pig was still 50 yards away, then 30, then 20, then it was practically right on us, approaching the gate. At that moment, we heard a fairly loud rustle in the bamboo grove to the left.

Mama pua'a a-comin to protect her keiki? [gulp]

Well, if it was mama, she didn't come a-chargin' out of the forest to attack. The 50-pound female facing us, however, seemed to have other ideas. When it approached within 10 feet, I figured that was close enough and yelled to scare it off. Normally, a wild pig, unless cornered, will blitz upon hearing/seeing/smelling a human.

But this buggah didn't bolt. To the contrary, it kept coming toward us although Pat was three times its size and I five (approximately). :-) Even with a large size advantage (extra large in my case), Pat and I, deciding valor was not the better part of discretion, dashed past the pig and began running toward Pali Highway.

But the pig wasn't through with us, and, believe it or not, continued its pursuit. "What da hell's wit dat pig?" I huffed, half-jogging, half-running. "I dunno, but it's not very fast," said Paka.

Granted, the pua'a was no speedster, but what it lacked in MPH efficiency it made up in persistence and a-comin' it continued.

When we reached a point less than 100 yards from the highway, Paka stopped, saying that if we continued on and the pig continued following us, it might get rammed by a car on the highway.

Although I could have cared less about the pig's well being, Paka showed his humanitarian bent by trying to lure the pig off the road and into the forest. This worked temporarily but the pig wasn't fooled, returning to the road when Pat did.

Still concerned about the pua'a's safety, Pat backtracked 100 yards up the road to the gate, with the pig following him all the way. After about 10 minutes of trying to coax the pua'a to head into the forest to no avail, Pat escaped by moving quietly down the road to where I was while the pig was grubbing for roots.

We still don't know why the pig followed us as ut did. But it became evident that it wasn't chasing us in attack mode. More likely, it was sick, disoriented, hungry, not used to seeing humans (and thus unafraid), or a combination of all these things. In fact, Pat pointed out that it was wagging its tail like a dog does when its happy and playful.

Whatever the case, it was a strange ending to a pau hana hike.

Mauna Loa will seem dull in comparison.

--DKT


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