A Visit to Pu'u Kukui on Maui

By Dayle K. Turner

While reading a message posted to the Punahou alumni email list (I'm not a Buffanblu alum but subscribe to the list to read what Punahou grads chat about), I notice in the sig that the sender, Randy Bartlett (Punahou '78), is an employee of Maui Land and Pine as supervisor of the Pu'u Kukui watershed. I've read fantastic accounts of visits to Pu'u Kukui, one by Sam Gon of the Nature Conservancy, and with the hope that a group of us would have a chance of visiting there, I fire off an email query to Randy, asking if members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club can hike the trail to the summit in exchange for service work in the watershed.

A couple weeks pass and no reply from Randy. He's probably received dozens of similar requests, I surmise, and has clicked on the delete key when mine arrived. Well, no loss in trying, I think.

But Randy hadn't sent my message to delete-heaven. Instead, he's been on vacation and replies promptly upon returning. His news: yes, a hike to Pu'u Kukui in exchange for labor can be worked out. I'm jazzed. I'm even more jazzed when Randy also indicates that a ten-bunk cabin, Haelaau House, is available for use as our base camp. As we'd later find out, the cabin, located on Pu'u Kaulalewalewa (elev. 2,980) at the head of the trail to Pu'u Kukui (elev. 5,788), proves to be wonderful.

Knowing I have vacation time coming in mid-December, I request December 17-20th for the trip. After Randy sends word that those dates plug nicely into his calendar, I begin sending out feelers to organize a group of eight, the limit set by Randy. A regular member of the HTMC trail maintenance crew, I am in close contact with an eager pool of hardworking, conscientious folks and have no problem finding volunteers.

Mabel Kekina, Pat Rorie, Carole Moon, Grant Oka, Ken Suzuki, Ralph Valentino, Charlotte Yamane, and I make up the initial pool of eight. Early on, Charlotte and Mabel drop out, and their spots are quickly filled by June Miyasato and Judy Roy. And in early December, Ralph is struck down by a bad cough and Kost Pankiwskyj fills his spot. So those ending up making the trip are Pat, Carole, Grant, Ken, Judy, June, Kost, and I.

In the weeks preceding the trip, Carole (air and ground transport arrangements) and June (meals) do superb work. To solidify logistics, I also confer with Grant and Ken, veterans of many off-island hiking adventures. Additionally, Mabel and Carole provide helpful feedback since they've both hiked to Pu'u Kukui in the past. And I continue to keep in email contact with Randy, who promptly offers advice and answers questions I have. For ground transport on Maui, we are also fortunate to receive the assistance of John Mathias, Arnold DeClerq, and Arnold's friend David. All the ingredients comee together nicely.

So the cake is ready for the oven, and we all anxiously anticipate the December 17th launch date for our adventure.

Next: Day 1--Arriving, getting acquainted, and doing service work.


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