Thursday, June 9, 2011

Treading Lightly

Probably dropped by accident.
I spent most of half of Tuesday and most of Wednesday in Mo'ole Valley and Lanihuli.  There have been some pretty big changes in the landscape over the last couple months between my repeated trips and the visits by others.  When I first starting haunting it, Mo'ole Valley was fairly pristine, the trail was completely overgrown, and I suspect it received just an occasional visitor.  Moss covered the majority of rocks along the stream, old ti plants grew along side the trail and in the stream, and Mamaki lined a few of the waterfalls.  There really wasn't any path to follow, one just had to wander up the stream.  Over the last few months I trimmed back some of the Indonesian Cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii) and the Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleianum) to open the trail back up.  Neither species is native or endemic and the Strawberry Guava is considered an invasive pest.  There's been enough traffic that there's a fairly well defined footpath in many areas too.

Since then, the valley has been visited my many and it's beauty will no doubt bring them back.   Anyone who's read this blog knows that my quest to find the Lost Trail to Lanihuli is what brought me here and over a series of months, the trail route was rediscovered and finally a swath through the uluhe was cut up the ridge pioneered over a decade ago by Dayle Turner.  The spur ridge up to Alewa is very steep, slippery, and scratchy.  Much of the beginning is a muddy hillside devoid of foot or hand holds.  Honestly, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone and it will be left to be reclaimed by the uluhe.

O'ahu False Ohelo Damaged.
Mountain Naupaka Broken
Mountain Naupaka Damaged
Yesterday while heading up the spur I was disappointed to see several endemic plants damaged by someone who'd taken the trail.  I'm aware that most normal people don't take an interest in plants- my hiking partner rolls his eyes while I take pictures of them and doesn't seem to share in my excitement when I run across something less common or that I've never seen before.  I understand that completely, it's like when Mrs. XJ starts talking about some Coach purse or drags me to Ala Moana to look for dresses.  I'm simply not interested!

However, there are some really rare and special plants in Hawaii. They've all been on the decline since the first humans set foot here.  Most people don't realize the drastic changes that have occurred here didn't just start when Captain Cook's ship arrived but hundreds of years earlier when the first Polynesians arrived with the dog, pig, and chicken.  Those simple introductions began the unraveling of the an ecosystem that had developed over millions of years.  Science is still discovering species that were eliminated when the first humans arrived including several flightless ibis, a land crab that probably played a large and important role in the health of the forests, and many others.  Once Capt. Cook made contact with Hawaii, a massive influx of exotic plants, insects, and animals began anew.  A huge number of speices have been imported over last 200 years and accelerated this decline dramatically.  The Sandlewood logging near the end of the Hawaiian Kingdom devastated the forests like nothing before or since.  Care should be taken to not further their decline by damaging or destroying them.  As enjoyers of the mountains I believe we all have a responsibility to them tread as lightly as possible. 
Nu'uanu Valley Cira 1889
"borrowed" from Hawaiian Biota's Flickr Photostream
After receiving my first comment I'm worried I may not have found the right tone in this post.  Nobody has trashed the valley or the trail, in fact I haven't come across a single wrapper, can, bottle, or anything else that was careless tossed aside.  It just was those broken branches that got me thinking it might be good opportunity to toss out a little reminder to all of us, myself included, to be mindfull about how our actions affect our surroundings. 

I've neglected the blog for the last month due to schedule changes, work, family, and life and now here's a post from me standing on my soap box.  Next week I will hit something new and different!  Aloha and thanks for reading!