OHE July 22, 1998

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 18:41:01 -1000
From: Grant Oka (goka@ns00.phnsy.navy.mil>
Subject: part 2: 4th of July at Kokee

After a hearty breakfast, we all packed lunches and rain gear and headed for the Pihea Trail, our destination, the Kilohana benchmark across the Alakai Swamp.

The sky was blue at the CCC camp but we were in a cloud and alone at the Pihea Trail head. Soon, the clouds lifted and views of Kalalau Valley and the Pacific Ocean below us were a dazzling display of greens, blues, and earth rocks. One particular ridge looked almost do-able from Kalalau up to Pihea lookout. Then soon after came the mud. the incredible, abundant mud. Then came the boardwalk which allowed us to look around and see the rare native plants that thrive here. I wish I could remember all the names that Ken tried to pound into my old sievelike brain. I could hear birds and could only catch glimpses of them as they flitted between branches and trees.

It seems that the boardwalks are only in place where it is not so muddy. the real muddy sections are still virgin. can't quite understand that logic.

At the 4-way junction with the Alakai Swamp Trail, we went north towards Kilohana. We then crossed the feeder stream (knee deep) to Kawaikoi stream. The day shifted back and forth from sunny skies to swirling misty clouds. Once when I stopped to take a GPS bearing (everyone else kept on trucking), a curious bird (elepaio i think) approached very close to watch me. An undescribable emotion came over me as I stood alone with this one bird in this native forest. Don't understand it but I really enjoy it and feel alive when things like that happen to me.

Portions of the boardwalk are not installed but the planks are laid out such that it is possible to hop from one plank to another. Georgina took a misstep and sank knee deep into thick mud. On the way out, Joyce slipped off and sank to her armpits in watery mud. She grabbed the boards and still could not feel the bottom.

The Kilohana benchmark is roughly 4000 ft and overlooks the Halelea Forest Reserve and the Wainiha river some 3200 ft below. In the distance is the Haena coastline. When we got to Kilohana, the clouds had us socked in so we just ate lunch and talked until lo and behold, the clouds parted and gave us a view. Another curious elepaio perched nearby to observe us. When we returned to the Pihea trailhead, the sky was sunny and the views were spectacular. The place was packed with tourists.

The rest of the day was spent cruising the Kokee area. Arnold hiked the Nualolo trail just to build a good appetite for dinner. I slept good.

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