To OHE: this was sitting in my outgoing mail all week!! guess I better send it, huh? Hope you all had a great hiking weekend. It's hotter than heck here, and as usual, wish I were there with the tradewinds and cooling rains.
Just finished enjoying Gene's and Sergio's cool write ups. Maybe I should tell you all, just so that I don't feel as though I'm really lurking here from San Jose, that Patrick has been so kind and generous as to send me photos (and promises more! --hint, hint, Patrick--!) of some of the group. In all fairness, I sent back pics of me. Mae, you're right, seeing photos really adds something to the write ups. Don't be so self-deprecating of your abilities, though, I bet you could kick butt with the best of them. Go for it!
By the way, before I forget, can anyone tell me how much this Pete Caldwell book costs? Are we talking $20 or $80? Is it really big and heavy? Are most of the photos well labelled? I lost the info on its title. Is it primarily a photo book? My sister could pick one up for me!
Also, does anyone have one dang photo of this uluhe plant? If I hear one more mention of it I'll go mad, not knowing what you're talking about..
Anyone else planning on scoping out the dismantling of the Haiku cables? That would be sooo cool. I will check out my Honolulu Star Bulletin site (on my "favorite places" list) faithfully for news on this. Patrick, I forwarded your post on the cables to my sisters, one in Oahu and the other in San Diego, both of whom hiked the stairs with me. I'm not surprised you didn't find our signatures. We had only a fine-point (but permanent!) marker, and tried to compensate for this by leaving our names in at least three different spots. We have really good memories of that day (and night!)
Since I have nothing to contribute to this area in the way of write ups, but a lot of time on my hands at the moment :-) I'll just leave a few thoughts. I've often considered the messy issue of conservation, especially where it concerns the wildlife/urban interface. When I was a CDF firefighter, this was (probably still is), quite literally, a "hot" topic. Were we "saving" the forests or saving the luxury homes? Really current and provocative stuff, to me. And in regards to what some OHEs brought up recently, it's never really clear who is in the right or wrong about access to "pristine areas." You could agonize volumes on the topic, and the countless related issues, but I'll just add a few things that reading "Conservation of Hawaii's Pristine Places" and especially earlier dialogues brought to mind.
I don't think that a single one of us was baptized into a true wilderness experience, solo. Most likely, we were introduced to the Great Outdoors by a friend, a parent, a group, a book with detailed instructions, and/or a wide, benign trail that beckoned us to walk further in, and teased the explorer in all of us. When we answer the call and become more experienced, some of us (myself included among the guilty) become elitist and territorial, and look down upon the same old "easy", populated trails that once enraptured us, with a new disdain, and a familiar contempt.
In a new environment, though, such as my recent trip back home to Oahu, I find myself at square one, trying to acclimate to the new surroundings. I cannot begin to tell you how awed I was at the views from the Kuliou'ou Ridge trail, even the Aiea Loop trail. Simply breathtaking! Were it not for some of the posts I have read here, I would have never thought of them as "ruined", "trashed out" places. You should have seen the look on my mom's face, brow beaded with sweat, as she completed the Aiea Loop trail, grandma hand in hand with my little niece, pointing at every tree, every bird. You could have heard our collective hearts sink when we spotted the H-3...
Point being, (before I get carried away with homesickness here!) I suspect that a lot of the support for land conservation comes from a population of folks who aren't anywhere near the frequent, hard-core hiker some of us are. Some may gruffly point out the hordes who trample into dear places, but take a closer look at their faces: These people, for the most part, are feeling awfully good about themselves and about nature. Many of these infrequent visitors to the wild and not-so-wild places--and this includes all the keikis-- may provide most of the long-term political base of support, financial and otherwise, for future conservation issues and projects. The OHEs seem to be unusually conscientious in their trail-maintenance obligations, but a lot of hiking enthusiasts aren't, and that brings up another outdoor irony: a lot of the people who work to maintain the trails don't even hike them nearly as much as the avid hikers do. (I'm speaking really of the people I know who work in the California Conservation Corps..) Their work should be recognized as not just critical to providing the initial access to potential outdoor advocates, but instrumental at allowing the hardcore hikers to "push the envelope" , and to pursue the art further.
My sister Michelle, who lives on Oahu, never hikes except the rare times I'm in town . I am really grateful to have easily obtained the detailed information Grant and Patrick forwarded to me, about exactly how to get to the Haiku stairs, via the internet! "Shelly" is quite unsentimental, yet her eyes brimmed with tears as she topped the Haiku stairs, declaring the moment among the happiest in her life!! I'm rambling a bit, but mean to say this: never underestimate the appreciation those "hordes" have for nature and the outdoors. Try not to speak of them disparagingly, as I suspect most of them are not taking for granted what most of you experience every weekend. The eyes of a newcomer, a keiki, and a tourist, are large and full of wonder, and there is great value in this. Nature may have in these people her most powerful advocates. And there is rarely another way to open the eyes of a nature neophyte, than through those wide, maintained, safe (for some of you, "ruined") trails.
Just a few thoughts. I understand totally the fear, and the encroaching upon "their" spots that some people feel is happening with the dissemination of hiking information. I have often felt, and still do feel , similar emotions, and still have not made heads nor tails of the situation. On Oahu and elsewhere, the root issue is really overpopulation, but ho boy, I won't even get started on that here. I like the current situation where there is a tacit understanding that you have to earn your way into less visited places, and I don't mind when I am rebuffed at queries to get to certain trailheads (I'm thinking of Wai'ale'ale in Kauai!). It is a fair rite of passage silently demanded by the more experienced hikers and/or local Hawaiians, and I totally understand and respect this. The limited land mass demands that eve ryone respects this.
time to get off the podium...
um, I have another question. Are there any biologists out there? I once saw, on an old Nova program, something about some rare plants in Hawaii that lost their means of pollination, and so these people had to scale these cliffs, painstakingly hand-pollinating each plant...anyway, in this same program, and elsewhere in a guidebook to Kauai, there was mention of a "wingless grasshopper" that is "found nowhere else on earth." One such wingless creature hopped right into my path on the Kalalau trail. I couldn't help myself (so much for conservation) and now this bug-gah is lovingly pinned in my insect collection. One biologist here claims that my catch is common in island environments, where wingless creatures tend to become selectively "favored" in a relatively short period of time, and yet those other books, and TV, seemed to indicate that I had a rare creature on my hands...can anyone give me insight into this, or forward my question to any biologist/entomologist pal there in Hawaii? I'd really appreciate this.
Finally, I had a request from my brother on Oahu, who doesn't have access to the internet: He wanted me to ask here if any of you know of this person who apparently keeps detailed records, and regularly hikes to, all the plane wrecks in Hawaii. He may have written a book on this. Thanks for any information on this, and to all of my questions posted throughout this entry!
Much aloha to you all,
*Here's a few comments/answers to your message:
* You can get Peter Caldwell's book for about $18.00 (if I remember correctly). The title is: Adventurer's Hawaii : photographic glimpses of the Hawaiian Islands as seen by the hiker, kayaker, and adventurer. Publisher: Honolulu, Hawaii : Taote Pub., c1992. 144 pages of beautiful photography, and interesting narrative. Since I work in a library, I rarely buy books. However, I have bought multiple copies of this book to hand out to hiking friends. (and of course, keeping one for myself!)
*Yes! Wonderful point! Sometimes, when I feel grumpy, I do dislike slow-moving crowds of hikers. But, in order not to destroy their experience of nature, I make it a point not to pass them--instead I see it as an opportunity to pull out clidemia & other noxious weeds.
*Yes!!! This is going to be an important point come next election in Hawaii. Without getting into the background -- Hawaii will be voting on whether or not to have a Con-Con (constitutional convention) in the near future. There is a rumor going around that "they" are planning to eliminate what little access rights Hawaiians (and hikers) have to traditional ocean and mountain trails. The 1976 Con-Con gave us important access rights; the 1998 Con-Con may take it all away. Just imagine, the slow-moving hiker in front of you may be a delegate to the Con-Con and will be voting on access rights. Be nice.
*This past Friday, I brought Neal & Dayle down one of my "secret" spots. after all of these years, I saw the first piece of vandalism down there--someone felt compelled to spray paint graffiti on the tunnel. Big Gulp cups I can pick up-- spray paint I feel powerless against.
*Hmm, if your brother is referring to "Kenny"-- yes, he hikes to plane wrecks, but the book he is working on is about the bunkers the military built during WWII. Still not finished w/that one. It would be neat if there is someone else out there w/Kenny's obsession w/plane wrecks.
Thanks for a thought-provoking write-up Collette!
P.S. A lot of what Wing sez about uluhe is true! But it is a useful plant in a couple of ways: 1) It forms an impenetrable mat that helps to prevent erosion & subsequent landslides. and 2) It is one of the first plants to reestablish itself on landslides--and thereby helps to prevent even more erosion. and, (unofficially) 3) it helps to hide precipitous drop-offs which would make me freeze in the middle of a trail. :)