Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Take 2

This week I returned to Puʻuwaʻawaʻa.

A rough road on the back side of Puʻuwaʻawaʻa
A rough road on the back side of Puʻuwaʻawaʻa

The plan was to use a mountain bike this time. One nagging issue in hiking Puʻuwaʻawaʻa is the long access road you need to hike just to get to the base of the puʻu. Two miles of straight, and mostly paved road to climb before the hike really gets interesting.

It is old pavement, but in good shape as there is little more than foot traffic. Last time hiking out I wished I had a bike so those two miles would be one smooth downhill roll back to the vehicle. Once above the puʻu I could use the bike to explore the network of ranch roads that lead back into the forest reserve.

That was the plan, reality did not work out quite as well.

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The Trail to Emesine Cave

There are few open paths to trail ride on this island, a place where landowners gate every side road and jealously guard any access. There are a number of exceptions, but you have to look to find them. One such is a power line road off of Saddle Road. The power line is gone now, the stumps of poles remain where they were sawn down years ago. The road runs arrow straight across the landscape, now serving forestry crews, pig hunters and hikers. Enough traffic traverses the path the keep it clear of growth. Here is a glimpse of natural Hawai’i, where invasive species are relatively few and the calls of native birds echo amongst the ‘Ōhi’a.

Preparing for the Trail
Getting ready to set down the trail to Emesine Cave
While I had hiked the trail a couple years past, cycling gave me a whole new appreciation for the ruggedness of this old power line road. Whole sections were cobble that shifted and rolled under the knobby tires. I got a lot of rock dodging practice, carefully choosing where to run my tires through the rough lava. In the end I was forced to walk the bike along whole lengths of the route where the loose cobble was simply too dangerous to ride. The sections among more recent flows were the rough parts where the road was simply bulldozed through the rock.

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