OHE March 31, 1999 (Keauhou-Apua Point)

Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 15:43:30 -1000
From: Oka Grant A (OkaGA@phnsy.navy.mil>
Subject: Keahou-Apua Point Backpack Trip Report

aloha to all,

Thur mar 25th, 6 HTMC members left honolulu at 0520 am bound for Halape in Volcanos National Park on the island of Hawaii. Ken Suzuki, Stuart Ball, Reuben Mateo, Carole Moon, Georgina Oka (my daughter age 14) and myself Grant Oka soon arrived at HTMC member Debbie Uchida's home in Volcano. Halape was filled so our permits were for Keahou on thur (25th), Halape on fri (26th) and Apua Point on sat (27th). We were joined by Deb's friend Diane and her friend Howard as the 9 of us hiked the 8 or so miles down the Keahou trail from the Chain of Craters road to the ocean on the southeast section of Volcanos National Park. The day was partly sunny but very windy and gusty.

After about 4 hours we arrive at the beach of Keahou at mid afternoon. We missed Dayle and Patrick who dayhiked to Keahou from Halape (about 3 miles round trip) earlier in the day. We make camp in a shaded campsite on the beach. Our tents and cooking area are well protected from the gusty winds. Keahou is rocky point with a protected small bay perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The colorful live coral reef is beautiful as the sun shines through the shallow waters.

Late in the afternoon, the UH group who had camped at Halape, pass thru Keahou on their way to Apua Point.

Dinner and evening star gazing complete the day. Everyone is in good spirits. The sound of the ocean and my Z-rest under me put me to sleep immediately.

Friday morning starts sunny and perfect for snorkeling but soon turns into a very windy and gusty day. So, it is decided to remain at Keahou and just dayhike over to Halape. Diane and Howard have already hiked back out early this morning. Before she left, Diane promised to meet us with cold drinks on Sunday at the trail's end. Debbie enjoys the morning then also leaves us to hike back out on the Keahou trail. She will rejoin us at Apua Point tomorrow night. One lone backpacker comes into Keahou to camp. He is an attorney from Kona.

The rest of us walk the coast toward Halape and soon come upon a collapsed lava tube with flat stones that made a floor. Three of the stones had petroglyph carvings. The small cave entrance is blocked by guardian phallic looking upright carved stones which we do not violate. Reuben returns to Keahou while the rest of us continue on. Halape is completely deserted. Stuart takes off to loop back to the Keahou trail via a new connector trail. This eliminates the Kipuka Nene trail as an access since it has been closed more times than not due to Nene nesting areas. Carole, Ken, Georgi and myself explore the Halape coast and the large lava crack. We rinse in the brackish water of the crack then head back as the wind is very gusty. Ken finds a rocky section that is "choke" with opihi. Picking a few dozen opihi for pupus, we head back to Keahou. After adding some chopped onion, sesame oil, ginger and shoyu we (except for Georgi who is vegetarian) devour the tasty morsels. Again, dinner and star gazing on the beach is the evening's entertainment. The night is clear with a gentle breeze. We all laugh and talk of many things. I baked some brownies which everyone enjoyed.

Saturday morning started out perfect for snorkeling but again the wind picked up. The Kona attorney is packed up and gone bright and early. Carole, Georgi and I were almost swept out to sea as the waves also picked up and produced a strong current. Later, we watched in awe as a very large moray eel swam in a tidal pool and actually came onto the rocks out of the water in search of food.

After lunch, we pack up and load up with water since Apua Point has no water source. The 3 or 4 mile hike across several lava flows was interesting. The gusty winds kept us off balance as we hiked. Apua Point is rocky outcropping with a small bay of tidal pools. This day Apua was pounded by huge waves driven by the winds. The beach naupaka seemed at home in the salt spray. Reuben and Ken identified a rare Ohai plant that was in bloom. We all weight down our tents with large rocks and dedicate the lee of a sheltered area as the cooking / congregating area.

A few years ago, Stuart and Carole had volunteered and spent a few weeks at Apua Point monitoring the rare Hawksbill turtle as it uses the coarse black sand to bury its eggs. The incredible mounds of old opihi shells and the lack of any opihi on the rocks was disappointing. I usually have faith in human nature but this plundering of opihi to the point of decimation was very sad to me. Apua Point is indeed a wild place. If unprepared, this wild beauty could very easily turn deadly. The lack of potable water keeps this place desolate. Stuart explored and re-discovered a very narrow and deep crack in the lava that he had known about years ago.

With Stuart's encouragement, Ken bravely climbed down into the narrow darkness with large chunks of lava precariously perched above him. From down in the crack, Ken shouts that there is brackish water and the slot is about waist deep. Needless to say, we all took turns to rinse off in the cool water at the bottom of the crack. The lava rocks are very abrasive and just a brush against skin will draw blood so extreme care was needed as we climbed down and up.

By late afternoon, Debbie had hiked in from Chain of Craters road via the Puna Coast trail. We all settled behind the shelter of a rock wall to cook and eat and enjoy each other's company. By 7:00 pm a light rain began to fall and we all retreated to our tents. After a few attempts to regroup, we disbanded due to the rain and all went to bed early.

Sunday morning was again sunny with gentle breezes but soon the wind picked up again. We could see rain above the pali toward the Volcano area. In exploring Apua Point, Ken and Reuben found petroglyph carvings and what appeared to be a fishing shrine. There was also a carving that looked like a checker board for marbles. After lunch, we set off on the Puna coast trail amidst strong winds and huge waves crashing on the cliffs sending salt spray over us and the beach naupaka.

We cross lava fields and soon see the Chain of Craters road. Just as promised, Diane met us with cold drinks that was gratefully guzzled. We bid farewell to Debbie and Diane.

After a quick dinner at Pizza Hut in Hilo, we were soon landing in Honolulu. It seems like so much has happened to me in the last few days but really nothing much has happened at all. It seems like Honolulu is somehow different but I can't put my finger on it. As I lay my sunburnt, aching body down to bed, the thought of work tomorrow and the memories of georgi, friends, and the fun of the past few days all blend together in a swirl of dreams. Somehow, someway I am different now and it is good.

happy trails,


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