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10 in Hawaii – Auckland Tramping Club and Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club 2016

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The following post was written by Anna Roberts for Auckland Tramping Club – for more info visit their website: http://www.aucktramping.org.nz/index.php/blog/126-news/trip-reports/overseas/481-10-in-hawaii

Extended Trip – Saturday 21 May 2016 to Sunday 6 June 2016 (17 days)

     At Maui airport – L to R – Pete, Jeanne, Teresa, Diane, Anna,
Ian, Russell, Hazel, Colin, Michele with Hawkins in front

Ten of us flew out late night on Saturday May 21st for the inaugural tramping trip with our sister club HTMC. The 10 were: Anna and Ian Roberts; Diane Dowle and Pete Waworis; Colin Wright and Michele Waldron; Teresa Janssen; Hazel Walton; Russell Allen; Karen Manning. Our HTMC host and trip organizer was Jeanne Furukawa who did an amazing job in putting it all together then bringing it off. In Hawaii she was aided and abetted by Hawkins Biggins the Social Convener for the HTMC; their hospitality ensured we had a wonderful trip overall – we thank both of them greatly, mahalo guys!.

After a smooth 8 hour night flight we arrived at Honolulu late morning to bright sun and strong trade winds. Jeanne and Hawkins met us in two small vans and we drove the scenic coastal route to the Clubhouse with stops to admire views at Koko Head, Makapu’u lighthouse, and the Blowhole. Hawkins took the first of many, many photos…….

We stopped at a supermarket for supplies then arrived at the historic HTMC Clubhouse (built by members in 1926) at Puuone Road, Waimanalo…a short walk to a 3 mile long sandy beach…we walked part of it after dropping our gear at the clubhouse (Japanese wedding parties are NOT a common sight on NZ beaches…..!)

Six of us had air mattresses in the spacious lounge and kitchen upstairs while four occupied the bunkroom downstairs alongside the bathrooms and Keala’s accommodation – Keala was the custodian of the clubhouse and provided us with wonderful hospitality as the trip progressed. That night we had a shared dinner with HTMC members, gave a presentation on the ATC and tramping in NZ which was followed by a lengthy meet and greet session. Quite a bit of interest was generated in members of the HTMC joining in the ATC Safari in the South Island in the last two weeks of January next year – Larry Lee will be the co-ordinator for the Hawaiian group for this. We then crashed after a very long day and an early start next day to go tramping with the HTMC.

Teresa, Jeanne, Ian, Anna returning along the valley to the trailhead.

Up at 6am which proved standard for the rest of our trip (Hawaii starts early because of the heat; rush hour is 5.30 – 8.30am; schools start at 7.30 and finish at 2.30.). Hawkins drove us across the Pali Highway to Moanalua where we met the others in a park. Got directions read out by Barb the hike coordinator including liability (we were definitely in the USA!). Then everyone took off – unlike the ATC, the club does not hike as a group but each goes at their own pace (usually in small groups); we were give a turnaround time of 1.30. We went up a valley with frequent stream crossings then climbed up to a waterfall where the ground was strewn with the remains of an old aircraft that had crashed after WW2, parts of the engine and propeller were the most obvious features.

We lunched (early too) by the waterfall with some of the party. Those who did the scramble up to the ridge reported spectacular views – once you leave the valley floor, the tracks go straight up and typically are steep and muddy; the locals strap cleats to their boots to give traction especially on the downhill slopes. Great tropical vegetation including introduced orchids, heliconia, and strawberry guava which, although a major pest, is an attractive tree with a hard straight truck and smooth bark, they made great handholds when descending the steep slopes!

On returning to the trailhead we found the locals handing out cold drinks and snacks – chocolate coated rice crackers were a taste sensation (!) while the cold beers went down very well – this is a club tradition at the end of each tramp.

We stopped at the spectacular Pali lookout then the Whole Foods store at Kailua on our way home to the Clubhouse. A quick dinner and repack followed on our return as it was a 4.30am departure to the airport next day for our short flight to the island of Maui. We grabbed a quick bite after checking at Honolulu airport then boarded the plane – excellent views into the crater at Diamond Head en route – landing at Maui airport at 8am.

A scenic lunch spot

After collecting the rental vans we began the drive Haleakala National Park and the summit of Haleakala, a volcano rising10 000ft above sea level. The drive took us through distinct vegetation zones (including a belt of jacaranda trees covered in purple blossoms) and a stop at the visitors centre to sign in and get maps. We continued up the road to the car park with panoramic views of the extensive ‘crater’ (technically it isn’t a crater) with its cinder cones and lava flows , the scoria ranging from black to red (as it does in TNP). After a car shuffle, we shouldered our packs to begin the descent down the Sliding Sands Trail into the crater.

After lunch half way down the trail (and our first encounter with the spectacular ahina’ahina or silver sword) we continued to the crater floor then took the longer route up and over Ka Moa o Pele, the biggest cinder, cone to arrive at the first cabin – Kapalaoa – late afternoon to be greeted by the endangered Hawaiian goose, the Nene (they were resident at all three huts). Dodging their copious poo around the hut made for some nimble stepping. The cabins are similar to our forest huts (though lack decks) and have a fire box, gas cooker, water tank, table and benches. Each hut has 12 bunks in tiers of 3; Ian took over the wood room as his bunk; Pete put his mattress on the floor; while our two hosts nobly climbed up to the top bunks. We relaxed, ate dinner early, followed by early to bed – night falls about 7pm

Day 2 saw another early start for the short tramp to the second cabin – Paliku. The trail was mainly level and passed through areas of low scrub and over lava flows. We heard and saw a mocking bird en route. Arrived late morning to the cabin under high cliffs (where we saw a Pueo, or Hawaiian owl, circling – it has a rare diurnal habit) and surrounded by trees – this is the wet area of the crater.

After lunch in the sun, the party split with four setting off to do a bit of a bush crash to the high ridge while the rest of us set off to explore the Kaupo Gap and bird watch. However, it wasn’t until we returned to the cabin and relaxed in the sun that we got some excellent views of two rare Hawaiian honeycreepers – the bright red and black I’iwi and Apapane which were feeding on nectar from the flowers in the nearby trees. Bird watching ceased late afternoon as clouds arrived and rain started – the tramping quartet got caught out and became rather wet………the rain continued for most of the next 24 hours. Dinner by candle light, followed by another early night.

Day 3 saw three hours of rainy tramping over lava flows and past cinder cones (lots of spectacular silver swords) to the third and final cabin – Holua. We arrived at the cabin late morning to light the fire and attempt to dry clothes and one damp sleeping bag. After lunch and an easing of the rain several went to explore nearby lava caves while the rest of us relaxed and enjoyed the sun when it re-appeared mid afternoon ; clothes were draped outside to finish being dried.. Another candlelit dinner followed then we all adjourned outside to listen to the amazingly varied chortles, gurgles, yips of the Ua’u, or Hawaiian petrel, nesting in the cliffs above the cabin (stupidly didn’t think to record it)…. the international space station appeared over the rim and passing overhead just before 9pm … a magical evening for our last night in the national park.

Day 4 dawned fine – the enthusiasts rose before 5am to take in and photograph sunrise over the crater rim. We were all breakfasted and packed by 7.35 to begin the trek across the lava flows and climb the 1400ft switchback trail (Americans do switchbacks trails very well making for easy climbing) to the Halemau’u trailhead.

At the hitching post Holua cabin (horse trekers can use the trails and cabins) – Teresa, Diane, Karen, Anna, Hawkins, Michele, Hazel, Jeanne.

We got great views back over the lava flows and cinder cones in the crater while the clouds poured over the rim. Beautiful clumps of ferns (the young fronds are a russet red in colour then turn emerald green as they mature) alongside the trail.

We reached the trailhead mid morning to sort out gear and enjoy the sun while the car shuffle took place.

When all the party had arrived and got sorted, we crammed gear into the vans, returned to the visitors centre to sign out and shop, then drove down to the lowlands through low cloud (made for an interesting few km) to reach the ‘cowboy ‘ town of Makawao where we wandered the town and lunched. After lunch we then drove to the lovely little coastal town of Pa’ia which we explored for a very pleasant afternoon (highly recommend the gelato café…) before returning to Kahului airport late afternoon to check in for our return flight to Honolulu. Colin and Michelle left us there as they were staying on Maui.

After a smooth flight back to Oahu we returned to the Clubhouse for welcome showers and clean clothing…. Ian and I now scored the pull down sofa bed upstairs and made this our corner for the rest of our stay. The nights were hot, and we had every louvre window open in an attempt to keep cool. No blinds; daylight arrived about 5am (eyeshades proved very useful), so early starts remained the norm throughout the rest of the trip.

It was now Friday 27th and Karen left the group to return to NZ (Pete and Diane left the following day to explore the Big Island) while the rest of us hired cars at the airport to explore more of Oahu. On Saturday Hazel and Russell joined members of the HTMC to trail clear – this is a regular feature of the club programme and without it trails would quickly become overgrown and not able to be used. From their reports, trail clearing in Hawaii is a very hot, muddy, and tiring activity….The remaining three of our group had a much more relaxing day with Keala taking us the Farmers market in Kailua in the morning followed by swimming at Waimanalo beach in the afternoon. Sunday we all returned to Moanalua to join Jeanne’s neighbour group on their morning tramp – more tropical vegetation, steep muddy tracks (think we would be investing in cleats if we were to do more tramping in Oahu), spectacular views from the ridge over the forested ranges and out to Pearl Harbour. Back to the trailhead and refreshments (such a good idea!) and hose the mud off as Jeanne and Hawkins and her son Indigo were taking us tiki touring for the afternoon – Wahiawa tropical gardens (can’t beat the bark of the rainbow gums for colour); Kulaloko Birth Stones (where high ranking women gave birth in yesteryear – we got caught in a deluge becoming saturated and liberally daubed with red mud); Dole Pineapple plantation (a chance to get clean and dry out while admiring the varieties of pineapple); the North Shore (famous for the huge surfing waves in winter months – very placid by this time of the year) to enjoy meeting the resident green turtles sunbathing on the beaches and then snorkel at Shark’s cove. The afternoon ended with dinner at the food trucks watching sunset over the reef and sea…A magic day and a huge ‘mahalo’ to Jeanne and Hawkins for making it possible.

Russell and Hazel sensibly had a rest day on Monday while we drove back to the North Shore to explore Waimea Falls Park (decided we would not swim in the pool formed by the waterfall – picture Kitekite falls – when we found life guards there giving our life jackets without which your could not enter the pool!!); lunched and swam at Waimea beach (nasty break on the beach with a strong surge so we didn’t linger in the surf); snorkelled at Turtle Bay; then joined the long slow queue of traffic down the coastal road back to the Clubhouse (it was Memorial day holiday). Tuesday was Russell and Hazel’s last day so they set off early to explore Pearl Harbour (we stayed local to take in the lovely Byodo-in Temple and shop at Kailua). Late afternoon we all met in downtown Honolulu in the apartment of Hawkins and Indigo. They took us on a tour of old Honolulu (buildings date to the missionary times in mid 1800s) followed by dinner at the waterfront – more great hospitality!

Wednesday Hazel and Russell headed home; Teresa took the bus to explore the Ala Moana centre and Waikiki; while Ian and I drove to Ka’ ena Point, the north-west point of Oahu. The point is the nesting ground for Laysan albatross now protected by a NZ predator-proof fence. We hiked the 5 mile round trip along a muddy 4 wheel drive to the Point where we enjoyed watching the large albatross chicks testing our their flight muscles, taking short hops above the ground.

Thursday – a classic day in Oahu – first stop was Diamond Head with a climb to the crater rim (in the company of large numbers of tourists) for great views of the inland ranges, up the coast to Waimanalo, down the coast to Waikiki. Next Hanauma Bay for the best snorkeling Oahu offers – a beautiful beach, some lovely tropical fish but our lasting impression will be the mongooses (yes, that is the plural of mongoose – google it!) raiding the rubbish bins and running across the sand (like NZ, the Hawaiian Islands evolved in isolation until humans arrived in recent times. The impact of humans on the ecology of Hawaii is very similar to that of humans here…).

Last stop was to hike the well formed trail to Makapu’u light house – more great coastal views. We drove back up the coast and dined with the locals at the Farmer’s market in Kailua.

Friday began wet but fortunately cleared to a beautiful day as we drove to Kailua to spend the day kayaking to the Mokulua islands off the coast – a bird sanctuary, we saw nesting wedge-tailed shearwaters there – where we swam and snorkeled, getting great pleasure watching a turtle leisurely browsing on seaweed beneath us.

Saturday we again joined the HTMC to hike the Kealia trail at Mokule’ia above Dillingham airfield in the N-W corner of the island. Very hot day and it was a struggle for me up the switchback trail for 1000ft or so above the airfield (having tow planes and gliders frequently passing overhead is not a common tramping experience…). Feeling rather unwell suggested mild heat exhaustion and the sheltered picnic table where the trail flattened out somewhat was welcome. We drank and ate and chatted to the others as sweaty faces kept on arriving.

Teresa and several others continued to the high point while we carried on for a shorter distance, all returning together. And, yes, the usual cold drinks and snacks were distributed at the trail head under the shade of trees alongside the airfield. We drove the 41 miles back home to cool off in the sea at Waimanalo beach in the late afternoon. Hawkins arrived at 4.30 (club nights are scheduled every second Saturday) to set up for the pot luck dinner and gear evening – a small turnout but some excellent exchange of information on gear for tramping. It took a consortium of Kiwis and Hawaiians to erect a small tent!!!

Our last full day and Keala drove us across the island to ‘electric beach’ a common snorkeling and diving destination as the beach and reef are opposite a power plant which has a outlet for hot water about 100m offshore. The warmer water attracts fish and turtles while the concrete outlet structure makes are an artificial reef (resembled a rusting encrusted sunken ship). Great swimming, good variety of fish and urchins, and….green turtles! Unfortunately the spinner dolphins, normally a common sight here, had other plans for the day. We showered, changed, snacked on tropical fruit while enjoying the sun and views – a very pleasant way to farewell Hawaii.

 

Monday we cleaned the Clubhouse, packed, had a final swim off the beach and headed to the airport. Overall, we had a wonderful and wonderfully varied 16 days in Hawaii with excellent hospitality from our hosts – a huge thank you! – and we look forward to welcoming you to this side of the Pacific early next year.