OHE November 16, 1999 (Puna Coast trip)

Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 15:25:10 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@k12.hi.us>
Subject: Halape-Keauhou-Puna Coast Backpacking Trip Part 1

"With its white sand beach and shady palm trees, Halape is an idyllic oasis along the barren, windswept Ka'u Coast."*

Returned late Sunday night, Nov. 14, from the Big Isle after a terrific backpack trip to the Ka'u desert.

== Thursday, Nov. 11, Hilina Pali overlook to Halape Iki, an 8 mile journey with an elevation loss of 2,300 feet

Caught the 6:25 a.m. Aloha air flight to Hilo with REUBEN MATEO, CAROLE MOON and GREG KINGSLEY. JUDY ROY, having arrived the day before, and MARK SHORT (an earlier flight on Hawaiian air) met us at the Hilo airport, then JUDY'S parents drove JUDY and CAROLE to DEBORAH UCHIDA'S home in Volcano. After obtaining a rental car, REUBEN, GREG, MARK and I also proceeded to DEBBIE'S residence subsequent to a quick stop at the KTA grocery store. To save time on this first day of our trip, DEBBIE acquired the backcountry permit and JUDY purchased fuel for us the previous day.

Once final preps were completed, our party drove to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HVNP) and reassembled at the Hilina Pali overlook (elev. 2,280 ft). Blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day (almost entirely blue sky overhead, bright sunshine, excellent visibility) JUDY'S Father snapped several photos, including the obligatory "before" pose, and everyone took a few minutes to enjoy the incredible vista of the rugged Ka'u coastline far below stretching for miles toward Kalapana to the east and Punaluu to the west.

At 10:15 a.m. we said goodbye to JUDY'S parents, who would pick us up Sunday afternoon at the Pu'uloa petroglyphs parking area (elev. 140 ft) below Holei Pali on Chain of Craters Road, and started descending along the Hilina Pali Trail. MARK also departed our group opting instead to check out the Pepeiao Cabin and sea arches (see page 4 of the first photo section in Ball's "Backpacker's Guide to Hawai'i" - the woman in the bottom photo is DEBORAH UCHIDA) via the Ka'u Desert Trail with the goal of camping at Ka'aha that night, something he had never done. DEBBIE lead the way and set a respectable pace as she, JUDY, CAROLE, GREG, REUBEN and I worked our way gradually down the series of switchbacks to the desert floor. I paused several times to take in the sights.

During the traverse of the desert, CAROLE fell way behind the main group and suffered from leg cramps. Despite her pleas that she could go it alone, REUBEN remained with CAROLE until the two of them reached Halape Iki late in the afternoon. For the most part a nice breeze blew in our faces, but we did encounter occasional short steamy sections devoid of wind.

DEBBIE, GREG, JUDY, REUBEN and I took a lunch break at 12:30 p.m. in a small haole koa forest, one of the few shady areas in the region, and, eventually, CAROLE caught up to us. Pu'u Kapukapu came into view beyond the lunch spot as we continued the pilgrimage to Halape at approx. 1:30 p.m. Just prior to the beginning of the descent to the coast where the top of Pu'u Kapukapu is on the right, JUDY and I halted for a breather and she discovered that all of her water had been consumed. I reassured JUDY that I would give her some of mine if she couldn't do without prior to reaching Halape.

At 3:45 p.m. DEBBIE, GREG, JUDY, and myself arrived at the Halape shelter and immediately refilled our water bottles. We exchanged greetings with a couple sitting inside the wooden structure. Fortunately, the two campers were staying at one of the Halape campsites, not at Halape Iki.

Sufficiently hydrated and supplied with H2O, the four of us headed for Halape Iki hoping to find the beautiful, secluded spot available for our camping pleasure. Nestled amongst several coconut palms on white pebbles with a Milo grove behind it, the Halape Iki campsite provides a perfect get-away from the rat race of everyday life and much to our relief and happiness, we spotted no one in the area. I immediately started setting up my tent while DEBBIE took a refresing dip in one of the nearby lagoons. Ten minutes later, JUDY and GREG pulled in and also commenced the task of erecting their canvas coverings. Eventually, and well before dark, CAROLE and REUBEN arrived.

After unloading the contents of my backpack inside my tent, I walked over to the edge of the closest lagoon and lay on the sand staring up at the massive rocky ridge containing Pu'u Kapukapu that forms a picturesque backdrop of the region. Later, as Greg watched waves pound the coast a short distance away, the rest of us witnessed the sun disappear behind a ridge in the distance toward Punaluu. The crescent moon caught our attention, and a lovely golden hue formed on the horizon once the sun set.

Following dinner that evening and despite strong winds, each member of our party stretched out on "the rock", a boulder composed of smooth lava, to gain pleasure from the outstanding star action. DEBBIE pointed out several constellations including her favorite, Pleades. Unfortunately, the stiff gusts brought chilly conditions causing all but REUBEN, DEBBIE and I to retreat to the assortment of tents. The three of us observed the moon set, several shooting stars and, after 9 p.m., recognized Orion's Belt in the eastern sky.

I fell asleep inside my tent at 10:41 p.m.

Next: Part 2 - Layover at Halape


* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKER'S GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1996.

== Paka

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