Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey
Words and pictures.
For the last hike on this trip, I chose the Aiea Valley. This hike follows a contour just below the ridge line, so takes you above the valley, not in it. As it turned out, that's a good thing.
The trailhead starts at the entrance to Keaiwa Heiau State Park. A Heiau is a sacred place to the Hawaiian people, usually a burial ground. After parking, we found the trail and headed up. The character of the terrain and vegetation reminded me a lot of the Appalachian trail. The trail cut into the hillside and flanked by a forest of conifer and deciduous trees. The trail surface was a mixed bag, sometimes dry and fast, sometimes wet and slow, and at one point just downright boggy. But a fun trail, nonetheless.
Of course there were the scenic overlooks...
About a mile and a half in, we encountered a landslide which we had to clamber over. Past that, the trail, mostly in the shade was muddy and slick. Once we made the turn around the ridge and headed back south, we encountered some really good, fast trail surface. The day was warm, but we were cool under the canopy of the trees, so we hoofed along at an excellent pace, enjoying the scenery along the way.
This continued up till mile 4, when things got muddy and nasty. The trail dipped down to a tiny stream, more mud than water, which we had to ford, causing Cheryl to temporarily lose a shoe in the process.
At one point, I heard a clacking sound from up ahead, where Cheryl was. I rounded the bend to see her standing still and whacking her hiking poles together. Now, on the AT, this is something you would do if you thought you might be coming up on a bear, letting it know of your presence and hoping the noise would cause the bear to move off. There are no bears in Hawaii that I know of, so when I asked her about what she was doing, she replied, "I heard a grunt and a squeal down there," gesturing into the valley below. In Hawaii, there are wild pigs. These are dangerous animals, very aggressive and armed with large and very sharp tusks. And a very bad attitude. All the websites will tell you to do if you encounter one is to fight like hell.
Image from hawaiiplantdisease.net
With that, we moved on with alacrity. Fortunately, we were ascending out of the bog and the trail began to dry out. We had gone perhaps a hundred meters when a host of squealing erupted behind us. Apparently another hiker on the trail behind us with his dog found the pigs, who left after trading insults with the dog.
We exited the trail at a different parking area and had to trek back uphill to where we left the car. It was a good hike, challenging with just a bit of wildlife thrown in for good measure.
I wonder if TSA will let me bring my bear spray next time.