Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The island of Lānaʻi was made by a single shield volcano between 1- and 1.5-million years ago, forming a classic example of a Hawaiian shield volcano with a gently sloping profile.  (SOEST)

The island of Lānaʻi is about 13-miles long and 13-miles wide; with an overall land area of approximately 90,000-acres, it is the sixth largest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands.

Lānaʻi has thirteen ahupua‘a (native land divisions), three of which are fairly unique in the larger island group, as they cross the entire island from Kona (leeward) to Koʻolau (windward) regions.

The tallest peak on Lānaʻi is Lānaʻihale.

The name of the summit is associated with the traditional story of a young chief, Kauluaʻau, son of Aliʻi nui Kākaʻalaneo, a ruler of Maui during the early-1400s.

Kauluaʻau, because of his misdeeds (pulling up breadfruit plantings) in Lāhainā, was banished to Lānaʻi (then known as Kaulahea.) (Maly)

At that time, Lānaʻi was known for being haunted by ghosts. This summit area is where the ghosts of Lānaʻi would gather. The story recounts Kaululaʻau’s plot to kill the ghosts.

According to the account, Kauluaʻau built a house on the summit of Lānaʻi and held a housewarming party, and invited the ghosts.  When they entered the house, Kauluaʻau killed the ghosts and ridded Lānaʻi of their presence.

This story serves as the basis for the name of the island, Lānaʻi (day of victory, day of conquest,) as well as the name of the summit, Lānaʻihale (house of Lānaʻi.)  (Maly, PBS)

“The land rises with an ascent more or less steep … all around the island, and is at first dry and rocky, with an abundance of thatching pili. A mile or two up it becomes smoother, and patches of brushes appear, and vegetation generally is more luxuriant.”

“Higher up small trees grow, and on the very top of the island, timber is found for good-sized native houses.” (The Polynesian, August 6, 1853; Lānaʻi Culture & Heritage Center)

To get there, you travel on the Munro Trail, a single-lane dirt road (with periodic pull-outs) built in 1955 (generally running north-south and follows a traditional foot trail, later used by island cowboys as a horse trail before improvement as a road.)

It was named after the former ranch manager, George C Munro, who was responsible for planting the numerous Cook Island pines in the summit region.

“At the very summit of the island, which is generally shrouded in mist, we came upon what Gibson (an early (1861) Mormon missionary to the islands) called his lake - a little shallow pond, about the size of a dining table.”

“In the driest times there was always water here, and one of the regular summer duties of the Chinese cook was to take a pack mule and a couple of kegs and go up to the lake for water.”  (Lydgate, Thrum)

Sitting in the rain shadow of Maui, Lānaʻi has always been stressed for want of water.  It was a lone Norfolk Island Pine, planted by Walter M Gibson at Koele in 1878, that in 1911, alerted Munro to the importance of the fog coming off of Lānaʻihale as a producer of valuable water in the form of fog (cloud) drip.

Hearing the constant drip of water on the corrugated roof of the ranch house situated alongside the Norfolk Pine, Munro realized that the pine boughs collected water from the fog and clouds.

As a result, Munro initiated a program of planting pines across the island.  (Lanai Culture & Heritage Center)

Munro ordered seeds for Norfolk Pines (he received Cook Island Pine seeds instead) and by 1913, initiated a tree planting program on Lānaʻihale, and outer slopes of the island.

In 1956, Hawaiian Pineapple Company ran catchment experiments, and found that in a 24 hour period, one pine tree could produce 240 gallons of water from fog-drip.

This upland area contains most of the remaining native dominated forest and is habitat for the ʻuaʻu (Hawaiian petrel,) ʻapapane and rare land snails.  (DLNR)  A large colony of the Hawaiian petrel is known to exist near the summit of Lānaʻihale.

The name of the nearby peak of Haʻalelepaʻakai (salt left behind or discarded) relates to a story of two fishermen who come across from Maui, laden down with their fishing gear and salt.

Early in the morning, they rose up to this second summit and look down into Palawai Basin, and they could see a bed of white “Ae no ka paʻakai” (There’s salt down there.)

So they decided to throw away their salt away at the summit and planned to gather the salt below. They made it down, they found that the salt was gone (what they saw from the summit was mist.) (Maly, PBS)

The image shows Lānaʻi and Lānaʻihale.  In addition, I have included other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Google+ page.

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