Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 20:20:43 -1000 From: Tom Yoza (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Re: Possible missing hiker
My last computer trouble call for the day was up at Schofield Barracks today. After that I decided to check the hiking trails around there. No luck at Kolekole pass parking area so I headed out to the Wahiawa Hills trail head at the end of California Ave. I got there around 06:15 and there was the red Nissan Sentra just as Amy had described it. But the door lock was punched and the driver side window was down. It was parked at the 1st possible spot on California Ave facing West, just after the Begin parking sign. I asked one of the neighbors to call 911 at 3 Police officers showed up in a few minutes. They confirmed that it was the car of the missing person. There were parking citation on his car dated the 8th. Those of you who were on the Wahiawa Hills trail maintenance on March 5 recall seeing this vehicle. According to the neighbor, it was parked there from fairly early in the morning. I showed the officers the beginning of the trail down into the gully then left. They had contacted Joe Self of the missing persons department and told me he was on his way out tonight.
I just go off the phone with Mable as she request anybody who is available Fri. and/or Sat. to give her a call either tonight or tomorrow morning early. She will coordinate this with the HPD possibly by tonight. I will call my boss and ask for a day off.
Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
An update on the situation with Robert LeFevre:
I talked with Amy LeFevre this evening and she expressed appreciation to Tom and the folks on OHE for the concern and help. She said she and Robert had hiked the Wahiawa Hills trail several times in the past and that they used to live on California Ave (they now live near Radford High School). Anyway, Wahiawa Hills is a trail that Robert would likely feel confident hiking alone since he had done it before and knew the general lay of the land. Amy also confirmed that Robert had attended a staff meeting at 8 a.m. on 3/5, Sunday, the day he was last seen. In an amazing coincidence, that same morning, the HTMC trail clearing crew, about two dozen folks all told, were working on the Wahiawa Hills trail.
Given that Robert attended an 8 a.m. staff meeting, he likely started on the trail (if that's indeed what he was doing in the area) at 9 a.m. or thereabouts. And if he did hike the Wahiawa Hills loop, it's likely he would have encountered someone on the HTMC crew somewhere along the way. Granted, the trail takes many twists and turns, and there are places to go astray (this happened to me and a few others last year when we took a wrong turn), so it's possible Robert went off on a different route and became lost/disoriented. Also of note is that the club just hiked Wahiawa Hills this past Sunday (3/19) and, as far as I know, no one reported anything amiss (foul odor, etc).
These facts/assumptions point to the possibility that he might have gone up the Schofield trail and run into some difficulty. He might have also started up Schofield and took a turn down the Kaukonahua Stream trail.
Amy also said Robert had been on some sort of medication and had been acting a bit strange as a result. Maybe he became incapacitated or disoriented because of the medication.
Amy also said she and Robert used Stuart's book as a reference guide when they hiked trails for the first time. On 3/5, Robert hadn't been carrying Stuart's book, which seems to cast doubt on whether he had tried the Schofield Trail since he had never hiked it before (or so thinks Amy) and wasn't familiar with the route.
There is to be a search tomorrow morning. According to Amy, police searchers will meet at 9 at the end of California Avenue. Some members of HTMC plan to assist in the effort.
Let's hope for the best.
This may be a bit farfetched but last year Myles and I encountered a strange couple past the last river crossing , as the loop begins its return ascent toward Wahiawa. A man in his 50's and a woman. He carried a rifle and said they were pig hunting. We thought it was rather odd since it was early afternoon. We thought that perhaps they were out to tend their weed patch. We just got an eery feeling about the two. If there's any hidden growing fields they may be booby-trapped.
Good luck to you all....Serge
There is a pic of Robert on the web at
I drove up to California Ave this morning at 9. Already there was a Fire Rescue crew, Amy LeFevre (wife), a male friend of Robert (didn't catch his name) and several local hikers (Mabel Kekina, Tom Yoza, Bill Gorst, Jay Feldman, Fred Boll). Joe Self of the HPD missing persons unit arrived soon after I did.
There was a plenty of discussion about where to search and what might have happened to Robert. Based on the info gathered, he is likely to have arrived at the end of California Avenue mid- to late-afternoon on 3/5, Sun. We arrived at this conclusion because Robert's red Mazda is parked right where Mabel's Isuzu was parked on 3/5. And Mabel's vehicle occupied that parking spot from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30-ish on 3/5.
Given a late-ish start on 3/5, and given that Robert liked to hike fast, often resorting to trail-running at times (according to his wife), it is possible that he arrived after Mabel and the rest of us left California Ave on 3/5 and tried to complete the Wahiawa Hills loop or perhaps the road up to the Schofield-Waikane trailhead and perhaps the S-W trail itself. If so, he might have had a mishap and fallen off the trail.
Also a factor is that Robert had been taking medication that made him act "funny" (per his wife). Given that, he might have been affected by the medication and made some unsound judgments regarding direction, time, etc.
Since I couldn't join the searchers, I left California Ave at 10 a.m. Those who were assembled were readying themselves to hit the trail at that time. Tom or Jay or Fred, OHE-L members all, will likely post an update later today or this evening.
If they are unable to locate Robert, it is possible that a larger scale search may be organized for tomorrow.
I just wanted to take a moment to let you know what happened from my perspective during our search at Wahiawa Hills today. Bill Gorst, Fred Boll, Thomas Yoza and I joined five men from the Fire and Rescue Squad at the trailhead. We headed out at ten o'clock doing the clockwise loop. I had the distinct impression that the rescue guys thought that they would have to be extra careful with us civilians, and doing some side prayers that they wouldn't have to carry one or two of us out. But it didn't take long for them to realize that HTMC builds its hikers tough. In fact, for a moment or two I thought we might have to carry one of them out. No, not really, they were fine and after a short while we were getting along just fine. Funny, how a steep, muddy hill serves as an equalizer of sorts.
But what I really want to talk about is not the details of where we went and what was said, but rather about some insights I had about how to search for a lost, perhaps dying person. Someone who might get to live the rest of his life if he could just be found, and found soon.
We all hike for different reasons, but one thing I've never met is a person who hikes to find missing people. Certainly no one in HTMC, and though we know very well how to succeed at the things we do hike for, searching for a missing hiker is not something we get to practice very often.
I consider one of my hiking mentors as Thomas Yoza. I can't count the number of times I've followed him and tried to replicate his incredible trail clearing technique. He also has a very good sense about searching for people. For the entire day we had only one positive hit, a T-shirt found on a side trail that no one had checked, eight of us walked by it, except for Thomas. He went up a side ridge and explored five minutes in and found it on the trail.
It hasn't been determined if it belonged to the missing hiker, but to me that's not the point. The point is that Thomas had the sense, the feel, the willingness to go off and look where no one else did. Now, don't get me wrong, others were certainly searching, and searching diligently, but it was Thomas' behavior that drew my attention. Once again, I tried to replicate it. Thomas was scanning slopes, walking down side trails for a look, sniffing the air, questioning aloud where the person would run into trouble; in other words doing the things one should do when searching for someone missing.
I began to realize that you've got to get it into your head that this is not just another hike. That you have to change your mental orientation and begin to think like the person you are searching for, even though you've never even met him or her. This may sound simplistic or self-evident, but on the trail looking for Robert it became real. I started to listen more closely to the surrounding sounds, to look slowly and carefully INTO the uluhe covering steep drop-offs, letting my eyes relax and softly trying to notice if something didn't look right. I began to search first and hike second. I admit I couldn't do this all day, it was a new skill, but an important one.
I don't mean to get all serious and bug-eyed, after all it's almost impossible not to enjoy a hike, especially when surrounded with good friends. But when your attentiveness might make the difference between someone living or dying, it's well to remember what Thomas so eloquently said at the end of his original email notifying us of locating Robert's car: Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
A group of hikers were on hand to help search for Robert LeFevre today (3/25, Sat). We met at 8 a.m. at Wahiawa District Park and after a consultation meeting with Joe Self of the HPD Missing Persons Unit, we headed up California Ave to the Ranger training area of Schofield's East Range. Mabel, a woman with a no-shame attitude about asking permission for things, got the green-light for us to enter East Range from the soldier in charge of the Ranger HQ.
Tom Yoza, Jay Feldman, Dusty Klein, Justin Ohara, Gary Osborne (Navy personnel who heard about the search via a forwarded OHE post), and I walked up the 2.5-mile dirt road to the Schofield trailhead, checking for any signs of LeFevre as we hiked along. Meanwhile, Mabel Kekina and Deetsie Chave drove down to the Wahiawa Police Station to find out the search strategy of the police, fire, and DLNR personnel. That plan, as it turned out, was to chopper search teams to the summits of the Schofield and Poamoho trails and have those teams hike down the respective trails in search mode. In the meantime, other police & DLNR personnel would be searching on foot via the back gate of military installation at the mauka end of Whitmore Village. Our job was to hike up the Schofield trail, check the trail down to Kaukonahua Stream, and continue up Schofield as far as we could until encountering the search team coming down from the summit.
Jay, Tom, and Gary did a thorough search of the stream trail while the rest of us headed up the ridge trail. We searched any places with dropoffs where a hiker might have slipped or fallen off, paying particular attention to spots with even the slightest indication of a swath. We found nothing.
By 11:45, the ridge team was within 20 to 30 minutes of the summit. Around that time, a team of four searchers was deposited by military chopper on the plateau just makai of the Schofield terminus. Three of the four were clad in day-glow orange jackets/shirts and were easily visible from a mile away. The chopper did several flyovers of the ridge and also swung north to drop off searchers at the Poamoho terminus.
Instead of continuing to the summit of Schofield, our ridge team stopped for lunch on an open section of the trail and at 12:30 commenced the return trip down the trail, figuring that the police/DLNR team would search the uppermost segment of the ridge. Everyone from our group was reassembled at the Schofield trailhead by 2:00 and after a short rest break, we boarded vehicles driven by Mabel and Deetsie and headed back down to the Ranger HQ near California Ave.
When we arrived, police and DLNR officials and reporters from local TV stations were buzzing about at the end of California Ave. From a DLNR enforcement officer, we found out that the police/DLNR team descending the Schofield trail heard a whistle in reply to a whistle they had emitted. That turned out to be inconclusive.
No luck today in the search. Efforts to locate LeFevre will continue tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who turned out to volunteer today.
Tom Yoza, Mabel Kekina, and I were civilian hikers on hand today (3/26, Sun) to assist with the continued search for Robert Lefevre, who, as of today, has been missing for three weeks. Spearheading today's search efforts were personnel from the Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR.).
We met at 9 a.m. at the Wahiawa Police Station for a pre-search briefing and then were divided into three teams. Team 1 was tasked with exploring what was referred to as "The Kids' Trail," a route used by local youngsters to access Kaukonahua Stream from near the end of California Avenue. Team 2 was assigned to comb the area where the Wahiawa Hills loop makes its first major crossing of Kaukonahua Stream. Team 3, meanwhile, would search the area where Tom had found a white t-shirt on Friday. Team 1 would begin from California Avenue while Teams 2 & 3 would begin from the upper end of the military installation above Whitmore Village. Mabel was on Team 1, which included several HPD SWAT members and its search dogs. Tom and I were on Team 3, along with the HFD fire captain (Terry), one of his men (Jeff), an HPD SWAT sergeant (Derek), and a DLNR enforcement officer (Mike).
I was feeling apprehensive about hiking with the HFD/HPD/DLNR guys, thinking that since these guys did this for a living, they'd be put off by an amateur. However, after a few minutes on the trail, my apprehension flittered away into the quiet coolness of the Wahiawa foothills we were hiking. I don't know what did it, maybe just the realization we were all in this together to try and achieve the goal of finding Robert and doing so safely.
Because we entered from the back of Whitmore, reaching the place where Tom found the t-shirt was achieved in less than an hour with not much exertion required. Instead of descending the steep spur to the swimming holes, we headed up the slope to the left, reaching the place where Thomas had made his find. From there, we proceeded along the ridgetop for a couple minutes and then headed left down a spur toward Poamoho Stream. Covered with eucalyptus trees, the spur was generally open and was not difficult to descend. Ribbons also marked the way. A hundred meters or so down, there was a clearing with a steep dropoff to the stream, and from there, Mike and I worked left to follow a gentler slope all the way to the stream. While we did that, Thomas, Jeff, Terry, and Derek headed back up to the ridgetop where they'd continue mauka until reaching a spur trail that led down to Kaukonahua Stream.
At the point Mike and I reached Poamoho Stream, we found a fairly deep pool that looked good for swimming on a sunny day, a weather condition we were lacking at the time. Not motivated to climb back up the spur we'd just come down, I suggested to Mike that we try climbing up the slope (steep) across the stream. Mike was game so up we went, ascending through clidemia, uluhe, and fallen eucalyptus trees. Mike had a big roll of ribbon and he marked our route in case we decided to backtrack.
But backtrack we didn't. As we climbed, I kept thinking that once we reached the ridgetop, we'd arrive at a jeep/motorbike road we could follow back down to return where we'd left the vehicles above Whitmore. At the same time, we'd be able to widen the search area and maybe find a clue to where Robert had gone.
We found no clues, and due to a miscalculation of our approximate position (we were much further mauka than I realized), Mike and I spent the next couple hours pushing through trackless uluhe to finally emerge along the Poamoho trail access road by the hunter check-in mailbox. From that point, Mike and I followed jeep roads, hunter trails, and motorbike paths to make our way back to Poamoho Stream much further downstream than we had crossed it earlier.
While Mike and I were bashing about, Thomas and the rest of our team, after returning to the ridgetop, had worked their way upridge until the trail fizzled out. At that spot, a trail headed right down a spur toward Kaukonahua Stream. As Tom and company were preparing to descend, three hunters with dogs came up the spur trail from an area they called "Pigpen." When asked if they had seen anything out of the ordinary down there, the hunters said they hadn't. Given that, Tom and the others felt that going down to the stream wasn't necessary, so they backtracked, had lunch, and then hiked back to the vehicles.
Throughout the morning and most of the afternoon, drizzly weather prevailed. In a way, this was helpful in keeping us from overheating while we bushwacked and climbed through rugged terrain. Some other good things were the whistles and walkie-talkies Thomas and I carried, for these helped Mike and I orient ourselves when we trying to find the right spot to cross Poamoho Stream to pick up an old jeep road that would take us back up to the vehicles. Never underestimate the value of a whistle and walkie-talkie. In retrospect, I could have made it easier for Mike and I if I had a topo map of the area on hand. Always carry a map when bushwacking in unfamiliar territory.
After reuniting with the other members of our team at the vehicles, we drove back to the Wahiawa police station where we found out the other teams hadn't found Robert nor any clues to his whereabouts. Handshakes and thanks were shared with all the folks who had been on hand to assist in the search. I came out of this with a better understanding of the inner workings of a search effort by professional personnel along with increased respect for these people, who are just regular Joes doing good work under tough circumstances.
I understand that an additional search will take place on Monday 3/27. Let's keep hoping for a positive outcome.
With state and city attempts to locate Robert Lefevre ending yesterday --unless some significant evidence materializes--search efforts are now in the hands of volunteers, namely friends and family of the missing man, local hikers and hunters, and any other folks willing to devote time and energy. A couple dozen people showed up at the end of California Avenue in Wahiawa at 9 this morning, including Robert's wife, Amy; his brother, Corey; his brother-in-law; some folks from the local hiking community (Charlotte Yamane, Mabel Kekina, Ed Gilman, Nathan Yuen, Clayton Kong, Gordon Muschek); a couple of hunters and their dogs; and an assortment of other folks.
One of the challenges we faced was organizing ourselves to maximize the people power we had. I suggested that at least some of us concentrate on Kaukonahua Stream since search efforts the past three days hadn't covered this area thoroughly. Teams were formed, with the one I was with heading counter-clockwise around the Wahiawa Hills loop to the pools, at which point we'd make our way downstream until reaching the lower stream crossing of the loop. Another team, led by Gary Osborne (the mountain biker who'd assisted on Saturday), would head up the Schofield trail, descend the spur trail down to Kaukonahua Stream, then search downstream to the pools, and exit there. Other groups would comb other areas of the loop, including the forest road that led to Whitmore Village.
It was drizzly and cold when our team set out around 9:45. Joining me were Charlotte, Ed, Nathan, Gordon, Clayton, Corey Lefevre, Robert's brother-in-law, two twenty-ish local guys, a local hunter and his three pitbulls. Heading counterclockwise around the loop, we moved at a good pace, stopping at a (hunters?) spur trail that led to the stream just past the new bypass we blazed a few weeks back and just before the usual descent trail to the pools. Ed and I went down the hunters' trail while the others continued on to descend the usual trail to the pools.
Except for a few segments, the hunters' trail was fairly distinct and open, and Ed and I were able to descend to the stream at a point about an eighth/quarter mile below the pools and club lunchspot. We had told the others we'd wait for them to arrive before beginning the downstream trek, and so we waited. And waited.
It seems the others were slowed by the level of the water in the stream, swollen somewhat because of the rain. But Ed and I were patient and sure enough, the others eventually appeared around a bend in the stream--first the hunter and his dogs, then Nathan, Corey, and the brother-in-law, then Clayton, the two 20-ish locals, Charlotte, and Gordon.
The hunter was an interesting and knowledgeable guy, most willing to talk about his experiences hunting in the Kaukonahua drainage as well as other remote areas of the Koolaus. While we rested on the bank of the stream, he pointed to a pocket on the hillside north of the stream and told us the story of an encounter with a huge black boar that ended up killing five hunting dogs and getting away. "We got da buggah early one morning another day," he said while making a slashing motion to demonstrate how he used a knife to end the big pig's life.
Saying he had something to do in the afternoon, the hunter set off a few minutes before us. The last I saw of him was 20 meters downstream when he was neck-deep in the stream with his pack held overhead (a foreshadowing of things to come for us).
One thing to make clear is no trail of any consequence exists down the segment of Kaukonahua Stream we traversed. What that meant is that for maybe 70 to 80 percent of the time, the stream itself was the trail. And because of the rain-heightened state of the stream, that often meant wading in waist- to chest-deep water. We even had to swim in some sections because the water depth was overhead or simply because swimming was the safest and most efficient means of covering a segment.
And really, after getting used to being wet, wading and swimming wasn't so bad; in fact, it added an interesting twist to making our way downstream. Of course, the contents of our packs were soaked, including my walkie-talkie, which I'm attempting to salvage via a dismantle-and- -blow-dry effort.
Nathan, Ed, Corey, bro-in-law, and I stuck together as we swam and waded our way down the stream. Meanwhile, Charlotte, Gordon, and the others decided to bail the stream to push their way up a spur to the pu'u that our new trail now bypasses.
After an hour of searching down the stream, our group took refuge on a rocky beach for lunch. It was 12:10 at the time, and we all welcomed the time to refuel and rest. Before sitting down to eat, I emptied my pack of a substantial amount of water that had soaked through while I swam/waded, about two gallons worth.
We were on the move again at 12:30, resuming our wade and stumble trip downstream (since we had dried off and warmed up a bit during lunch, we avoided swimming (and getting soaked, as a result) for as long as possible. A slip and fall into the stream ended any pretense of staying dry, and thus it went for most of us.
As we continued downstream, we found the remnants of a campfire on the right bank. Near the fire ring was a depression on the bank that appeared like a place someone might have hunkered down to avoid the elements. Had Robert been here? We found nothing to link the spot to him.
Ten minutes downstream of the fire ring was the stream crossing of the loop trail. We marked the spot with several ribbons for the others who we thought were following behind us (only later did we find out they had bailed the stream to climb back up to the ridge). We were glad to be on solid, dry (actually, it was slightly muddy) ground again after two hours of swimming, slipping, and wading. There also was some somberness since we had found nothing conclusive to connect to Robert.
Within half an hour, we were back at the California Ave. trailhead, where Mabel had drinks and refreshments waiting for us. A reporter from Channel 8 news was waiting there, and he interviewed Corey. While hanging out, other searchers returned to the trailhead. One group reported seeing a blue t-shirt hanging on a branch near the stream. Another group said they heard rustling in the bushes near the small stream where Jay Feldman slipped and broke his wrist a couple years ago. That same group reported seeing/hearing a rock being thrown at them, perhaps, someone theorized, by an injured Robert as a means of getting their attention. Calls and a search of the area turned up nothing.
I headed for home at 5. When I reached Kaneohe between 5:30 and 6:00, I found a note with a message from Mabel, who said a couple of late-exiting searchers had found a water bottle at the top of the small waterfall near where Jay fell. Amy, the wife, identified the bottle as belonging to Robert. According to Mabel, who I just talked to a few minutes ago (10:15), she led a group down to the pool at the base of the waterfall and Corey (the brother) dove in to look for Robert. However, the pool was deep and the force of the waterfall created a whirlpool effect, hampering his efforts.
Adding even more to the situation is that one of today's searchers has turned up missing. He was part of the group that went up Schofield and down the spur trail to Kaukonahua. Apparently, he became fatigued, sat down to rest, and perhaps decided it best to stay put. He was last seen along the stream somewhere mauka of the Wahiawa Hills swimming holes. A search for him will take place tomorrow along with an intense search for Robert in the area near the small falls.
I plan to head to Wahiawa tomorrow morning to lend a hand if needed.
What started out on a search for one missing hiker has led to another. Tim Saat was last seen at approximately 3pm on Monday in the North fork of the Kaukonahua.
The plan was to take the Schofield Waikane trail, then cut down to the pools below the dam, check out the dam area, then enter the river to start searching downstream and then to leave the stream at the Kaukonahua stream trail. Given the recent rainfall, our 'wade' down a pleasant stream turned into a grueling/bushwhacking/slipping/sliding/swimming five mile hell-hike. At times I resorting to floating on downed trees found along the river. Tim in contrast preferred the less aquedic route and stayed on land whenever possible.
Paul 'the Army Reservists' was the other member of my party. He in stark comparison to Tim was charging ahead... in fact too far ahead. Once Paul left shouting distance Tim's morale visibly declined. He started insisting that we climb one of the ridges back toward Schofield.
Trying to climb up out of the river in order to bushwhack all the way to Schofield was out of the question, so I persisted in staying in the river and thereafter more of less drug Tim down the river to Kaukonahua stream trail. He started taking more and more breaks until we were within shouting distance only. Once on the first peak of the stream trail, I yelled back to Tim to turn left at the ribbons. He acknowledged, then I yelled 'follow the striped ribbons' to which he acknowledged. I then humped it back to the trailhead to arrive at approximately 4:30.
Tim never came out... we waited until 6:30 to start checking the local area, but no Tim ever emerged.
Tim is 38, short dark hair of medium build. Approx 5'7", 160 lbs. Last seen wearing a read shirt, jeans and black shoes. The plan is to meet back at the trailhead today at 9:00 to get the lost hiker who became lost looking for the lost hiker.
As a finale note I'd like to add that there's much more to the story than I've told here, I'll alsol say that this was the first time I've ever had a hiker shut-down on me and I'll make damned sure it never happens again. I'm hoping to god that Tim is curled up in a nice warm fern bush right now enjoying a night under the stars.
Tim walked out on the army road just as I was going in to get him at around 7:15. He was a little cold, but other than that he faired well.
Moral to the story is that we are all challenged with validating our hiking partners prior to setting out on an excursion. He stated over and over that he was an exceptional hiker and I took his word on it.
With the discovery of the water container late yesterday, state and city agencies, namely HPD, HFD, and DLNR, re-emerged into the search scenario this morning, creating an interesting and bustling setting at the end of California Avenue. A couple hours earlier, as reported by Gary Osborne and Jason Sunada, the missing rescuer--Tim Stapp--emerged from the forest after spending a cold night in the pitch black of the Wahiawa foothills.
At 9:00, the on-site honchos of the HPD (Joe Self) and HFD (Captain Terry Cano), along with reps from the DLNR, huddled together to plan strategy for the day. Mabel Kekina of the HTMC was given the opportunity to offer input and what she had to say had an impact on what transpired. All agreed that to avoid replication of past search efforts, only a small crew should hike in initially to search the pool at the base of the small waterfall and the immediate area around and above the pool. Capt. Cano, his three firefighters, a couple guys from DLNR, and I made up that crew, and we set off around 9:45.
In about 10 minutes, we were at the first small stream crossing, 20 meters up-river of which is a small waterfall, cascading at a pretty strong clip today. Capt. Cano did a preliminary search of the pool beneath the falls. He then directed us to take the trail that climbs the slope to the left of the falls, make our way through a jumble of fallen logs, and then drop down to the streamlet that feeds the falls to search for any clues. We located the flat rock where the searchers had found the water container (2-gallon type, purchased at Costco, according to Amy Lefevre).
We then climbed a spur ridge above the falls and found a good trail atop it. About halfway up this spur, we encountered climbing aids (long straps like the kind that used to be on the backside of Olomana 2) tied to trees to assist in ascendining/descending the spur. The trail on the spur emerged on the main trail almost directly across from the East Range Ranger HQ. According to the Capt., the trail probably is used by the Army for training. Other than the straps, we found nothing out of the ordinary on the spur, so back down we went. Once we returned to the streamlet above the falls, we did some poking around upstream. We found nothing conclusive.
That done, we made our way back through the log pile and descended the usual club trail back to the streamlet below the falls. Captain Cano (respectfully called "Cap" by his men) then directed his men to prepare to check the pool under the falls. One of the three, without hesitation, volunteered to be the man in the water, and he readied himself by putting on a wetsuit top, fins, and a mask and snorkel. Meanwhile, the other firefighters secured a rope around his waist as a safety measure and to pull him out of the pool if needed.
His gear prepped and checked, the water man entered the pool and spent about 15 to 20 minutes searching it, which he said was strewn with a branches and logs and was at least ten feet deep in places. At one point, he felt something mushy and soft. A body? Something else? It turned out to be the latter, specifically, a rotted, mushy tree trunk.
The search of the pool completed, we then readied ourselves to head back up to the trailhead. As we did so, a group of volunteers from the Air Force came down the trail to our location. They indicated they'd be checking further up the streamlet above the falls and then swinging back to canvas the streamlet down to the main stream (Kaukonahua). The Captain wished them luck and reminded them to work safely.
Our team then hiked back up to the trailhead, where news crews from a couple local stations were on hand to interview the Captain and his men. Mabel was also waiting there, and, as she always does, had drinks and snacks for whoever wanted them. I talked with Corey Lefevre (brother) and Robert's brother-in-law and assured them the search in and around the pool at the base of the falls had been thorough.
I found out from Mabel that 50 to 60 searchers, mostly military personnel, had entered the area after us. I left California Ave at 1:00, so I'm not sure of the results of their search efforts. Hopefully, they'll find something.
As a sidenote, the water container found yesterday was full (2 gallons = 16 lbs). According to Amy and the brother-in-law, Robert often hiked with the container full like that for the extra workout. He'd drink water from it as needed. Amy also had a couple of snapshots of Robert carrying the container while hiking. What the container was doing on the rock above the waterfall is a mystery. One theory is that Robert left it there and then slipped and fell into the pool at the base of the falls. Another person thought Robert had left the container there at the beginning of the hike and planned to retrieve it after completing the loop but ran into some trouble while negotiating the route. No one knows for sure.
Let's keep hoping for the best.
I'll be off island from tomorrow thru Saturday. I hope someone else will keep others abreast of the developments of the search.
The search for missing hiker Robert Lefevre continued again today, Saturday (4/1) but without success. Mabel decided to launch a kayak team, headed by Ralph Valentino, to check out Lake Wilson and the lower section of North Kaukonahua Stream. Maybe Ralph or Paka can elaborate on how things went on their adventure. I understand they ran into some suspicious characters in lawn chairs and did battle with a ferocious bear.
The rest of us met at the upper end of California Ave. at 8 am and began our ground search from there. The crew today consisted of Nathan, Lynn Agena, Naomi, Lester, Carole, June, Ken, Andre, Corey, JC and I. Mabel decided to man the Command Post with Amy and Robert's Mom. There were supposed to be a lot more military folks here today but their boss had them doing maneuvers all night long till 5 am so they couldn't come. But a Red Cross disaster assistance team with a van arrived to assist at the CP. We split into several groups with the focus of our search centered around the water fall where the water bottle was found on Monday. For some unfortunate reason Naomi decided to stick with me. We went into every stinking gully and small muddy stream and ridge between the trail head and the water fall. One of these gullies did a big meandering loop from the right side of the WF all the way around to the front of it. There were plastic flower pots and a bag of potting soil, wires tied between two trees across a stream, and many lengths of stainless steel cable. We also found one section of the Mauka Ditch tunnel. This was about 200' long and you can see clear through to the other end.
It had been raining steadily but lightly all morning. At noon, Naomi and I decided to have lunch at a spot along the stream bank above the WF. From radio contact, I heard the other teams had crossed the raging river and were going to do a CW loop of the Wahiawa Hill trail. Hopefully Nathan and/or Carole can give us an insight of what they found on their journey. After lunch our search took us into a valley above and to the right of the WF. That was an interesting place where we found more pots, an Ape patch, brass howitzer shells and 8" pipes sticking out of the ground. There was a deep, narrow stream snaking through the valley. Also found was an old aluminum coffee pot on the side of that stream. After tramping through there we decided to call it quits because
Naomi kept hearing sounds like something was following us. There was a nice ridge before us so we scrambled up it and as soon as we topped out onto the return loop trail of the Wahiawa Hills hike, June and Ken came hiking by. So we all made it out by 2 pm.
Later on after Mabel sent us on a wild goose chase up in Withmore Village, we went to Wahiawa Freshwater Park where the Kayakers were waiting for us. After trading stories and munching on snacks with hot and cold drinks we all sadly departed around 4:30 pm.
I intend to resume searching tomorrow at 8 am till around 12:00, then head for the HTMC clubhouse for the 2:00 pm meeting. There's still some nooks and crannies that I need to look at.
While Thomas and Naomi searched the small side gullies near the waterfall where Robert's water bottle was found, Ken led Corey (Robert Lefevre's brother), JC (the brother-in-law), Lynn, Lester, Carole, June, Andre and I around the Wahiawa Hills Loop with the intent of exploring obscure side trails and steep drop-offs.
Fairly early on, we witnessed a huge eucalyptus tree at least a hundred feet tall come crashing down several hundred yards away on a nearby ridge with a loud splintering crash! Apparently the ground was too wet to hold this tree anymore. These fallen trees are quite common--one can see many fallen eucalyptus trees that span the distance across the small gullies that meander throughout the area.
There are numerous side trails that criss-cross the area. Most seem to just reconect to the main trail at other points. While others lead down to the stream and yet others veer-off along ridgetops that lead to unknown locales. We also came across the remnants of an old contour trail that snakes it's way in and out of the hills. We explored many of these these side trails (some of them no more than faint pig trail) for quite a distance until they petered-out and yelled out for Robert. We also searched the steep drop-offs in the area.
As we made our way down the Waihiawa Hills Loop Trail we crossed Kaukonahua Stream. Due to the constant rain over the past few days, the stream was even more swollen and the current even faster than it was on Monday, when a group of us had swam down the section of Kaukonahua Stream between the stream crossings in the Wahiawa Hills Trail Loop. Fortunately, we crossed the stream without mishap.
We continued searching obscure side trails and stumbled upon a number of unusual items. We saw potted soil mix and plastic green pots. We came across a garden hose and sprinkler. And Lester thought he saw a tarp shelter off in the distance and mumbled something about the "Mountain Man of Wahiawa".
By 11 am, we reached usual lunchspot for the Wahiawa Hills Trail next to the big swimming hole. But since it was too early we just rested for a bit and then moved on to cross the stream. After we climbed up to the top of the ridge, we bumped into a trail runner with his dog (he said he works at the power station in Pearl Harbor) who was out looking for the missing hiker too. He told us that he smelled a fire on his previous visit on Thursday. After he left that day, it bothered him that he couldn't see any smoke and thought he should return to check out the area more thoroughly this time.
After moving on, we stopped at the top of a prominent hill for lunch. We pushed on after eating and resumed exploring the obscure side trails. At one point, JC followed me as we explored a barely existent trail. After the trail petered-off into nothing we decided to return to the main trail. But alas... we ended-up on some other trail which reconnected us with the place where the contour trail comes to an abrupt end, a spot we had explored earlier in the morning. So we decided to follow the stripped pink and white ribbons to get back to the main group. But... the stripped ribbons led down a ridge to a stream crossing I did not recognize. So we turned around and backtracked all the way to where we had veered-off the main trail in order to rejoin the group.
Once we got back on the main loop trail, we explored a few more side trails and found a bed cover that had been fashioned into a shelter. JC took a piece of it to show to Amy--perhaps it was Robert's. When we returned to the trail head, Amy told him the bed cover was not theirs. Alas... we found no new leads on the whereabouts or fate of Robert Lefevre.
And so what about the kayak team that paddled up the north fork of Kaukonahua Stream from Lake Wilson? Find anything interesting?
On sunday, 26 March, I and several other members of Hui Wa'a Kaukahi Kayak Club paddled to and beyond the end of navigation on the lower reaches of Kaukonahua. We portaged through several blockages in the fast running stream till it became a boulder cluttered wash. We were aware of the missing hiker and ltried to be alert for any unusual sights or odors. Nothing of note was found. Although it was raining, it was obvious from the banks that the stream had been at a higher level in the near past.