Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2000 14:18:39 -1000 From: JFEL873@aol.com (Jay Feldman) Subject: Pu'u Ka'aumakua 3/19/00
There is a theory in physics suggesting that within the cosmos there may coexist an unending number of nearly identical universes, differing from each other in minute but distinguishable ways. Yesterday, during the trail clearing of Pu'u Ka'aumakua, evidence supporting that theory came to light. Let me explain.
As Dayle related in his write-up, due to the large number of clearers that turned out a small but energized group worked on the Waiahole Ditch trail. However, I was not part of that group, rather a member of the larger squad that helped solidify the multiple universe theory. Jumping in the first vehicle, Charlotte, Bill, myself and driver Thomas reprised our last week's trek into Waikane Valley. This time however, we drove in and arrived at the gate as yet un-sweated and un-tired (much later Ken was also to become un-tired, but that is down the road). Charlotte and I, sensing an opportunity to stay ahead of the herd, immediately headed in. I soon found myself in the lead at the turnoff to Pu'u Ka'aumakua as Charlotte, in need of a moment of privacy, waved me on with an accompanying command indicative of her anti-loquacious nature, "You Go!" Actually, she uses it so often to me that I've begun to think it's a nickname she's tagged me with -- "Hugo". Either way I do not argue.
Plunging ahead, I quickly found myself swallowed whole by a sea, nay an ocean of clidemia. Clidemia taking full advantage of a little used, open to the sun, fertile trail. Though I was well armed and still fresh, I was in over my head, literally. Moving on to maintain my lead, I hacked and whacked but barely made a dent. Knowing I could work more effectively with my loppers at higher altitudes (where the aliens were mixed with native plants) I rapidly moved on. I made this decision knowing that even our large crew would be unable to clear this endless labyrinth effectively while going in, so there would be work to do on the way out. A time honored trail clearing dodge.
Pushing my way through I thoroughly enjoyed the unusual views seeing Kahana and Pu'us': Ohulehule, Koiele, Manamana, O Kila, Piei, etc., from a whole new direction. I knew that as Patrick ascended he would be radiant, treated to a coveted yet coy view of the backside of his true love, Ohulehule. A fact, I was later to confirm sitting beside him at the summit enjoying his stunned silence. I noticed his eyes flitting and flirting everywhere at once, dazzled yet omniscient, he seemed free of pain, carefree, joyful, and a little smelly. But I am getting ahead of my story.
Just prior to the split in the trail that leads either to Pu'u Pauao or to Ka'aumakua's summit, I found what might have been a catastrophic impediment to this hike. A huge boulder, and associated mokes, had cascaded down from above, no doubt vying for a better view. Finding a vacant and inviting lip, they ceased their journey and settled squarely on the trail, testing the nerve of any hiker that might come along. They had left just enough room for me to squeeze by, but I wondered how long would this narrow ledge they had left hold up? I reconnoitered the area but could see no alternative route or easier way over, under or around the rockblock. Using my Motorola I warned those behind me of the treachery and moved on, confident that others would also be able to maneuver around this massive obstacle. Nevertheless, I feared that sometime in the future hikers would be stopped by this rude trail intrusion.
Working on some aged and bearded clidemia slowed me down and eventually Arnold, then Thea and Ed, arrived and passed me. Giving up the idea of arriving first at the summit, I redoubled my efforts with the ubiquitous exotic. However, even as my diligence increased I could sense what a relentless foe, what a contentious rival we have for these limited footpaths. To clidemia these trails are long golden furrows for new colonies of seedlings, constantly sending down fresh roots to host new generations of ground cover. We trail clearers serve only as a minor and temporary impediment. Nevertheless, clearing trails does keep us off the streets.
Fortunately, the trail though long and unending, is a well graded contour that feeds you its 26 hundred feet of climb in a civilized and proportionate fashion. However, I knew that there awaited a final scramble to the peak, what I couldn't remember was exactly where it was. Of course when I arrived at the turn off I failed to recognize it, but fortunately Nathan was there and without hesitation sang out and I was saved from the ignominy of walking right by it. Not so for the three that had earlier passed me. Disappearing around a bend they were no longer in sight; probably doomed, I thought, to spend the night in the Poamoho cabin (not for public use of course, except for emergencies).
We hooted and yelped and happily our cries were heard. After they returned, we consolidated forces and charged up to the summit where the wind was waiting; gusting in the 20 to 30 miles per hour range we were forced to take cover behind some solicitous bushes. Charlotte, madly searched her pack for warm layers as we offered up rain jackets, sweaters, polypropylene underwear, and anything else we could muster that might serve her as insulation. I could see her lips bluing and teeth begin to chatter as she concentrated on her endeavor. Suddenly there emerged her parka which she donned in a trice. As we watched, her rosy complexion reappeared accompanied by a big smile. She instantly turned back to her pack and started lunch, as if to feed the internal fires.
As we sat there sheltered, feeding, talking, Patrick arrived ablaze and manic due, no doubt, to the array of beauty he found himself immersed in. Startled, and as I've mentioned, strangely silent, he slowly pirouetted several 360s, viewing his ministry. Completing his feng shui ritual and seemingly at peace, he mimicked John Hall's sitting technique by instantly releasing some internal support and dropping on the spot into a relaxed supine profile. Without hesitation, he reached into his pack and withdrew the requisite Dr. Pepper and began to nurture his caffeine/sugar needs.
Meanwhile we were joined by Helene, Dusty, Mel, Wayne, Kay, and Jason, who all arrived in dis-order or dat. As we ate we talked, all the while accompanied by a continuous electronic chatter from the Motorola as Dayle tried to reach Mabel, Mabel hailed Mike, Mike tried to coerce Helene into to leaving early, and Helene refused by only listening to him with the talk button depressed and responding with it released. All the while Dusty kept muttering to himself, some arcane mantra I believe.
Finally, as the beauty of the moment diminished, people began to depart. I noticed as I left that Patrick had reconfigured his location, perhaps realigning himself due to the intervening rotation of the planet. As I began my journey down, I was surprised to find an entire replacement crew below. Bob, Ralph, Georgina, Ken, Carole, and June moved up rapidly. I hoped, like us, they could recharge and saturate their souls with the closeness to heaven that the summit provided and at the same time avoid soaking their butts from sitting on the wet ground.
Following behind was Mark Short. He had promised earlier in the week to hike in after an overnight on Kipapa, and sure enough here he was. However his plan had been aborted as he had been unable to acquire Kipapa from the Waiawa side. Knowing people would be looking for him to arrive, he very considerately, for an HTMC hiker, came all the way out to Waikane and caught up with us to tell his sad story. A class act.
As I worked my way back down the trail, I came to the area where I had encountered the rock slide. Expecting another difficult encounter I realized a moment of confusion and misdirection. (You may wonder how I was able to distinguish this moment from my normal state of mind, but I will ignore such frivolity.) Nowhere to be seen was the rocky confluence that on the way up had proven an almost impassable barrier. Yet here I stood, at that exact place, now an open and level section of trail. There could be no mistake, for above my head was the fresh scar of breached living rock. Not only was the slide gone, but as I descended further, the trail, so recently impenetrable and overgrown, had been opened and was easily available to the boots of the most novice hiking tyro.
Of course, it was there and then that my eyes were opened, my Eureka moment. I realized that in those brief few moments of summit epiphany I had sidled into a parallel yet almost identical universe. A new universe differing only in the condition of Ka'aumakua trail. In this new world hikers ruled and clidemia hurt. No longer, but for my memory, was that earlier trail extant; either physics or the devil had been at work here, and though any difference between the two may be indistinguishable, I'll take the explanation of the former.
As the others joined me for the rest of the downhill trek, I tried to detect minute changes in their personas or behavior, but to no avail. The only change between the two realities was indeed the trail itself. Casual comments were made that could have explained the changes such as; appreciation for the diligent use of a hedge trimmer by Larry and Kris, the rolling of rocks off the trail by Patrick and Ken, the endless whacking by the crew's weaponry reinforced by Ralph's four foot machete, but nothing was as convincing as the simple yet elegant explanation that had so clearly blossomed in my mind. Little did I then realize that additional incontrovertible evidence was lurking in nearby space/time.
Finally, tumbling out at the locked gate we found Connie waiting for us. She informed us that Gordon, Kost and others had walked out rather than wait for Ralph and Ken to drive out. Then those two hardies proceeded to unlimber ice chests filled with drinks; we sat around enjoying our refreshment while awaiting the last members of the day's work party. Soon Patrick then Mark arrived and we began the drive out.
It was during this exit phase that once again the inexplicable occurred, further substantiating my belief in an altered reality. Ken had a flat tire. It can happen you say to anyone, anytime. But this was the Mother of all flats. Not only did the sidewall burst, but it burst, I suppose simultaneously, in three different places. To my mind, more evidence of a new, not so tired universe. A brave new world that cared less about molecular integrity in tire sidewalls; a world where Mabel's salsa has improved dramatically, a world where nearly impassable trails are miraculously opened. What other changes await us I wonder.