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The 1871 Trail
 
I was intrigued by Mark Twain's article of September 22, 1866 where he said, "We walked a mile over a raised macadamized road of uniform width; a road paved with flat stones and exhibiting in its every detail a considerable degree of engineering skill. Some say that wise old pagan Kamehameha I planned and built it, but others say it was built so long before his time that the knowledge of who constructed it has passed out of the traditions. In either case, however, as the handiwork of an untaught and degraded race it is a thing of pleasing interest. The stones are worn and smooth, and pushed apart in places, so that the road has the exact appearance of those ancient paved highways leading out of Rome which one sees in pictures."

I had toured the Place of Refuge National Park twice before but was not aware there was a trail here until Mark told me about it. So I confronted a park ranger, asked her why the park service had conspired to keep it hidden, and demanded to see it as is my right as an United States citizen! Well dog-gone it if she didn't just smile, tell me how to get out that way, and hand me a very special crib sheet for those intepid interpreters of numbered logs as is the custom and blaze for trails in this neck of the woods.

It really is hidden because to get started you have to skirt the refuge down a service road, bare left at the first coconut grove, then ... straight on 'till morning. Oh, well it wasn't that far. I did find out that this is the place where they put their old rangers out to pasture in this particular park since the service must patrol this stretch but narry a refugee seems to make it out this way.

Anyhow the xeroxed pocket-sized crib sheet turned out to be a boon and I am quite sure I saw every site on it and maybe a few more. Below is the recovered treasure. (pictures taken March, 2001)

Click on a picture below to blow it up!

Without much doubt this location is the highpoint of both the trail and the hike in modern times. You may not recognize but this is junction of the fabulous alahaka ramp (constructed after horses were introduced), the best preserved part of the trail, the escarpment, and although you can't quite see it, a lava tube that you can actually explore (if you walk bent over). The tube terminates right above a dropoff into the ocean! Pretty darn exciting if you can remain bent over all the way. The waiu o hina tube entrance is between the ramp and the cliff.

A Petrified Niagara - The object of our tramp was to visit a great natural curiosity at the base of the foothills - a congealed cascade of lava. Some old forgotten volcanic eruption sent its broad river of fire down the mountain side here, and it poured down in a great torrent from an overhanging bluff some fifty feet high to the ground below. The flaming torrent cooled in the winds from the sea, and remains there to day, all seamed, and frothed and tippled - a petrified Niagara. It is very picturesque, and withal so natural that one might almost imagine it still flowed. A smaller stream trickled over the cliff and built up an isolated pyramid about thirty feet high, which has the resemblance of a mass of large gnarled and knotted vines and roots and stems intricately twisted and woven together. ~ Mark Twain

Note you can no longer walk under the "falls" as Mark did and most of that overflow lattice lava that he paints so well for us has crumbled. This is as close as the gendarmes allow you to get to the keanae'e cliffs. Also note the remains of Oma'o (yet another) Heiau in the foreground.


By far the best constructed and most well preserved ediface along the trail is this ancient goat pen designed with nice straight high walls to keep the critters in. It is a sure sign of the reverence that the Hawaiians must have held for these fine animals.

Keokea Holua slide: Just to the right of center on this picture you would guess that there appears to be two ruts of a 4-wheel drive track. But you would be wrong! In actuality this is the remnants of a specially constructed slide for entertaining the ali'i (royal class of Hawaiians). Apparently for fun they would slide down these carefully prepared inclines on special wooden sleds with wooden runners. Only the Ali'i were allowed on the hill.

Continuing south, you can walk right out of the park on this trail! There is a gate you need to open, but there are no signs saying you have to keep out. This gives you an idea of what the trail looks like if it is not carefully maintained by the park service.