OHE November 16, 1999 (Kau to Kaaha)



Subject: Re: Puna Coast Adventure, Day 1
Date:	Tue, 16 Nov 1999 06:08:00 -1000
From:	Mark Short (markeshort@postoffice.worldnet.att.net>

As Greg mentioned on the first day of our trip I went via the Pepeiau cabin to Kaaha since I had not been this way before. The trip to the cabin is highly recommended as a beginner backpack trip or for those with limited time. The trail is a gradual descent and wide open through grassy bowls with interesting crossings of large lava dry stream beds and black sand washes. The sound of the wind in the grass is very relaxing and there are large ohia tree to provide shady rest stops now & then. On my last trip the cabin was closed due to recent pest control. This appears to have been successful since the log book had a record from a few days earlier of some one who was most of the night due to her companions snoring. During this time she did not see any cockroaches or mice. The cabin was clean and if people are very careful with their food hopefully it will stay clean & pest free. The lua was in rough shape with no door. The windows were all in good working order, slide to open and completely screened.

The trip down to Kaaha was over rough lava and steep in places. You need to keep a sharp eye out for the ahu. At times I could not see the next one but if I continued a bit or changed my angle it popped into view (they were always in plain just camouflaged). Upon reaching the shore line I went right over a sandy hill to view sea arches. The arch to the left was the most dramatic looking like it may be knocked down by the pounding surf at any moment. I then went left over the same hill and continued along the coast. Since I passed by this arch I was compelled to walk over it pondering my fate if it were to give way and If I was plummet into the boiling sea below along with tons of rock. Since the arch had made through much worse than the pounding it was getting at this time I figured it would be a freak like Sacred Falls for it to fall now.

Continuing along the coast the sun was burning intensely behind me I started to heat up as the wind had died down so I deployed my umbrella and took off my hat. This worked well until a gust turned the umbrella inside out and broke two of the spoke support joints. It was still usable, but more fragile now. After arriving at Kaaha I prepared & ate dinner in the shelter while reading the log. The lua here is in excellent condition with new door hinges. I looked at the camp sites near the shelter, then headed down to explore the beach area. There were many large fish jumping in the cove. I'm not one for identifying fish and the low sun reflecting off the water made it impossible to see much more than the splashes. I took a dip in one of the brackish pools and decided to sleep down here under the stars away from the possible pest that might be lurking near the shelter. After retrieving my pack I prepared my ground sheet, sleeping pad, bag & pillow. Then sun had gone down behind the pali behind me but the colors in the sky were not a disappointment. I was hitting the hay early since I had gotten up very early that morning and did not sleep much the night before.

My plan was to get up at sunrise and head to Halape. As is normal my first night out I woke up many times. Each time I would look to the east to see if there was any sign of a coming sun. The stars overhead were incredible with lots to see, however this viewing did not normally last very long since I would drift back to sleep. I soon realized I could tell how long I had been asleep by the progress the stars had made against the heavens. At one point I noticed one very small cloud to the west, nothing to worry about. This is a very dry, desert part of the island. The cloud eventually join up with others and became larger, still nothing to worry about. At one point I awoke to see a white patch in the sky to the east. It must be a cloud reflecting the sun's light from below the horizon I thought. Wrong, the cloud moved to reveal a very bright planet. Eventually morning did come, I had breakfast, packed up & headed to Halape.

The trail continued to show little use as it had all the way from Pepeiau cabin to the junction with the Hilina Pali trail. The hike was pleasant with part the overcast skies and occasional showers with cooling tradewinds. Soon Puu Kapukapu came into sight and began to grow as I made progress. I turned right off the trail bound for the summit of Puu Kapukapu. Last time here it was too hot and I was too tired to attempt this climb. This time the conditions were perfect and the climb was easy. After going over a fence at the base I dropped my pack and carefully studied landmarks so I could come down to the same spot and not have to hunt for my pack. At the summit were great views of Halape below and the Puna Coast and more beyond. I had to continue left down from the summit to get a view of Halape Iki where I'd hoped to see the rest of the gang. They were not in sight and I knew my voice would not carry over the wind so instead of calling out I tossed a few small rocks in their direction as a symbolic form of communication.

After climbing down from the puu I trotted down to the shelter. Looked for the log which was missing (probably doing lua duty). I refilled water then went for a swim in the brackish lava crack/pool that is one of the best attractions at Halape. As I rounded the bend to Halape Iki Pat saw me and did his Pat Morita impression (Y). As I arrived Debbie Uchida was preparing to leave. With the exception of Greg & Reuben who were busy opihi gathering we all headed to the brackish crack/pool where we said good-by to Debbie. We then all spent much time soaking in the pool, climbing the rock wall then falling/jumping into the water, being tasted by opae/prawns, and viewing them through the crystal clear water with swimming goggles.

That's my addition for now, I'll let Greg continue the tale.

Mark E. Short


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