OHE March 23, 1998 (e)

Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 18:22:00 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: The Piliwale article

The following is a reprint of an article that appeared in the *Honolulu Star-Bulletin* on Tuesday, May 1, 1973.

72nd Birthday Celebrated with 5-Day Koolau Hike
By Harry A. Whitten

Silver K. Piliwale reached the age of 72 a few days ago.

He celebrated the occasion in typical fashion--for him. He completed a five-day hike, carrying a pack weighing about 45 pounds, through approximately 40 miles of mountain country, some of it untracked wilderness.

The retired Hawaiian musician, seaman, and heavy equipment operator admits that at the end "my feet were sore, I was so tired, but I wouldn't give up."

Piliwale started the hike at Pupukea, mauka of the Boy Scout camp, and followed the Summit Trail to its end, where it is joined by the Kipapa Trail.

For the rest of the way, along the crest of the Koolau Mountains, there was no trail, until Piliwale descended into Moanalua Valley, to reach his car which he had left at hike's end.

The first day of the hike was rainy and windy; Piliwale quit hiking early and slept that night in the shack at the head of the Kawailoa Trail. The next three nights he slept on the trail.

The weather improved after the first day but the trail was very muddy. On the second day the metal in Piliwale's backpack broke and he had to tie it together with cord.

At times he had to wait because the fog was so thick he couldn't see where he was going. He got into trouble where the Manana Ridge reaches the summit because of dense fog; he wasted half a day waiting for the fog to clear enough so he could pick out the right route to continue to Moanalua.

Along several stretches past the Kipapa Trail Junction, the hike involved traversing knife-edge ridges, with steep climbs and descents.

"When there's much wind, you have to know how to balance yourself," Piliwale says. He dug steps with his machete in some steep and dangerous spots.

Richard H. Davis, veteran mountain rescue man, recommends carrying a pick for step-digging if the hiker is going to traverse dangerous spots. He says a $1.25 pick is adequate.

Davis estimated that Piliwale's route involved a 40-mile hike, although the measurement on the map wouldn't show that great a distance.

Davis, recollecting his rescue expeditions, expressed the hope that Piliwale's trip won't encourage foolhardy adventures by other persons. He also emphasized the wisdom of turning around and retracing your steps, if you find you're going wrong, as Piliwale did in the fogbank at Manana.

Piliwale carried a pup tent but it got soaking wet. For food he carried bread, rice, meat, fried chicken, jelly, sugar, tea, and water.

His matches worked the first night but didn't thereafter, so for drink, he used sugar-flavored water, instead of tea.

Piliwale started hiking with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club in early 1967, after returning from several years work on Kwajalein, Wake and Guam. He'd been forced to quit when he reached the age of 65, a fact he resents. "I can do a young man's work," he says.

Now he works part-time as a security guard. Two days after his five-day hike he was building a stone wall for one of his daughters.

Piliwale credits part of his vigor to the fact he doesn't smoke or drink. "I never believed in it," he says.

He is "100 percent Hawaiian" and was "a country boy," born seven miles from Hilo. He was named Silver because of a dream his grandfather had about the time he was to be born.

He was orphaned when about 9 years old, was raised by relatives until he went to work at the age of 16.

At first he worked a nine-hour day for 40 cents a day. He came to Honolulu, worked as a seaman, sailing to the Mainland, Panama Canal, and the Orient.

He took music lessons for a year, and for 25 years was a musician, often on cruise ships. He played the ukulele and he sang "but I can't sing any more after I had a throat operation."

He has seven children, of whom one is the entertainer Varoa Tiki, plus 23 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

He's also worked in the building trades, as a stevedore, and as a heavy crane operator.

He's hiked over the Oahu mountains as well as those on the Neighbor Islands. In 1969, at the age of 68, he carried a 45-pound pack on a knapsack trip with the Sierra Club that involved climbing over three passes more than 12,000 feet high in Kings Canyon National Park, Calif.

---- End of reprinted article ----

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