Saturday, March 31, 2012

My First Time to Kaena Point

On Thursday night, March 29, I accompanied Kevin on a night hike that was more of a walk than a hike. The real purpose of the night hike was to create a memorial for Kevin's and many other hikers' good friend, Leslie Merrell. I never met Les, but he was an avid and experienced hiker who was killed when he fell from the bear claw trail. There is a cave at Kaena Point that he is known for, and our mission was to carry quikrete to the cave so we could create a memorial for him. Kevin bought a plastic plaque with Les's name on it and planned to set it in cement. Since this was not the trail Les lost his life on, the more expensive plaque is planned to be placed on the bear claw summit.
We arrived at the end of the highway and the beginning of the trail at about 9:00 pm and prepared everything we needed. We each carried about 20 pounds of dry cement, along with water and supplies. The walk is about 2 miles on an offroading path that is fairly flat. About half a mile in, we were greeted by headlights, which turned out to be someone searching for his lost dog. He was kind enough to give us a ride about a 1/4 mile down the road, which helped relieve the strain of carrying the cement. After thanking him, we were back to walking the path, which is pretty much boring, unless you do what we did. We made a torch from a branch on the ground, an old t-shirt, and some torch fluid. We wrapped the shirt on the stick and soaked it in the fluid, then after a battle with the wind, we finally got it to light. It was pretty fun and helped save batteries in our flashlights.

 After finally reaching the end of our trek, we made our way into the cave, which is sort of hidden. You have to be looking for it or else it just looks like part of the mountain. There's a rope installed and we ventured into the cave, which is an old dilapidated mine shaft. The shaft is about the width of a two-lane road and about 20-25 feet high. It can get hot and is quite dusty. There are remnants of the miners who worked in the shaft long ago, such as run-down equipment and machinery. Rails traverse the mine, and much of the rails are in pieces. In the back is the continuation of the shaft, closed off by a cave-in, which seems to be the work of humans and not nature.

Towards the middle of the shaft was the initial memorial for Les where we got to work mixing the cement and preparing the area for our formal memorial. Our cement job wasn't the best, but we did as best as we could with the tools we had, and it turned out pretty good. We didn't stick around to see it dry, but it seemed to be holding the shape we set it in. After a moment of silence for Les, we made our way out of the cave and back onto the path we entered on.

After a long walk back, we finally reached our car and returned home, satisfied with our achievement that night. I didn't carry a camera along that night, so there are no pictures, but I might return one day, probably with Kevin so I can get some pictures of the finished memorial.