Outings Report

By Diane Ware

Come celebrate the National Park Service Centennial with Moku Loa Group outings in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Kaloko, Pu’uhonua ‘o Honaunau, and Pu’ukohola Heiau. Most of the outings are interpretive and some will be led by Park rangers. We will also sponsor a program about the status, history, and planned release of the critically endangered Hawaiian ‘Alala in Hilo on the first Friday in May or June. For all events, check the Outings page for dates and details.

PROGRAMS

by Phil Barnes
Phil Barnes will be showing slides of his recent trip to Southeast Asia. The major emphasis will be on the natural areas and eco-tourism opportunities in Laos. The presentation will be held at the Kea`au Community Center, behind the Kea`au Police Station, Thursday, February 7, 7:00 pm. For further information call Phil (965-9695).

THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL ADVENTURE

By Phil Barnes

As some of you are aware, this past year Randy Ching (an active Oahu Sierra Club member) and I undertook a thru-hike on the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail running from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The trip took two years to plan, as there are a multitude of details to work out.

On April 13 we left Hampton, Tennessee heading north. To avoid the crowds in Georgia in the spring, we had decided on a ‘flip flop’ hike. The first night on the trail we were hit by a snowstorm, but within a week the snow was long gone with the temperature nudging 80 degrees. There were a few thru-hikers who had left Springer and were already this far north, but they were very fast hikers. We averaged fifteen miles per day, plenty for us. My pack averaged a bit over thirty pounds when heading out of town with six days’ worth of food, which is pretty light.

For those thinking of doing the AT, there is a lean-to shelter about every eight miles or so for the entire length of the trail. We stayed in shelters probably about two-thirds of the time and camped out the rest. We stopped in a town every six days or so, and spent the night in a motel, took showers and picked up one of the eighteen food drops that my brother mailed to us along the trail. On September 8 we summited Mt. Katahdin at the northern end. My daughter, Brooke, met us and drove us back to Hampton, TN, where we started heading south.

Diane, my wife, joined us for the last 400+ miles. Together, we saw the beautiful Southern Appalachians in their fall colors. This southbound section of the trail through North Carolina and Georgia was my favorite part of the hike. We all reached the end of the trail at Springer Mountain in late October.

We had excellent weather on the hike; it was pretty dry and cool much of the way, which is rarely the case. The year before it had rained for thirty straight days in Virginia!

While long distance hiking, you burn up more calories than can possibly be consumed. I lost almost thirty pounds while eating high calorie food non-stop. As soon as you hit a town, the first thing you do is eat a carton of Ben & Jerry’s. Then you go out to dinner. I must admit that I miss eating several Snickers bars a day, but I would like to keep trim and not regain the weight again.

Many generous Sierra Club members made per-mile pledges, allowing me to collect over $1,000 for Moku Loa Group. Thanks to all of you who supported me in this endeavor.

This was such a great trip; I’ll share it with you at a slide show at the Komohana Ag Center upstairs conference room at 7:00 pm, Earth Day, Friday, April 22. There will be a show in Kona scheduled at a later date. Any questions? Contact me (965-9695).

REVIVING THE OLD VOLCANO TRAIL

By Julie Williams

In the days of the first missionaries to Hawai`i the Old Volcano Trail was a heavily used 30-mile route from Hilo to the top of Kilauea Volcano. This foot and horse trail was regularly traveled until 1894 when a carriage road was completed to Glenwood. It’s exciting to realize that this was the sole passage through the dense `ohi`a forest for many hardy trekkers making the pilgrimage to Pele’s home.

In 2001, the Kea`au Planning Group was formed under the sponsorship of the YWCA. These community members participated in the Healthy Hawai`i Initiative thanks to a grant written by Laura Warner. The group designed and conducted a health needs survey resulting in 312 responses. Biking and hiking trails and recreation programs were among the top unmet needs for the Kea`au to Volcano area. As a result, the Group realized the goal of restoring the Old Volcano Trail would address these needs across our entire community. With the leadership of consultant Eric Kapono, the necessary grants, permits and negotiations were completed, allowing us entry onto the trail.

Since November 2003, a new crop of hardy trekkers has been slowly reopening the trail. This could not be accomplished without the generosity of the R. M. Towill Company, which is providing the pin-to-pin surveying free of charge. Each Saturday we work on the trail with machetes, chain saws and muscle power. Under the leader-ship of Councilman Bob Jacobson, the goal is becoming a reality. To join us, please call Bob’s office at 961-8263.

APPALACHIAN TRAIL ADVENTURE

By Phil Barnes

Some of you may be wondering what happened to me, as I didn’t run for the board this year. Beginning in April, I will be spending six months hiking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, something that I have wanted to do since I was in my 20s. We are in the midst of all of the pre-trip planning. It will not be a really hard-core trip, as we will be sleeping in a motel at least once a week, eating restaurant meals and resupplying.

Our plan is to start on the Tennessee-Virginia border and hike north to Maine. Once we reach the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin, my brother will meet us and give us a ride back to our starting point. My wife, Diane, will join us there, and we will hike south to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the trail. This is called a flip-flop–large crowds starting from the south in March and April are avoided, and no worry about getting to Maine before the mountain gets snowed in. I would like to make my hike a fund-raiser for Moku Loa Group—asking for pledges for each mile completed.

This will give me an added incentive to get out of my sleeping bag in the morning when it is raining. One cent/mile would total about $21.00 for the entire hike. I will not collect if I don’t hike at least halfway. I will set up a separate e-mail address while I am on the trail, and will be sending out updates to all who are interested. If you would like to sponsor me, send an e-mail to greenhi@interpac.net, or call me at 965-9695. Thanks