Saturday, July 26, 2014


“Aloha Waiʻaleʻale
Ka Kuahiwi o Kauaʻi”

“Such is the beginning of the ancient mele which pilgrims were formerly accustomed to sing on reaching the highest peak of the mountain, which is Waiʻaleʻale proper; at its foot lies the fabulous lake from which it takes its name.  "Rippling Water," the origin of many a wild tale, lay before us; it proved to be a very small pool.”  (Dole, The Garden Island, October 21, 1913)

“As droplets in a cloud approach the mountain, small vertical wind shear constrains their horizontal motion, while upward motion stops at the trade wind inversion or stable layer. Thus entrainment is limited and droplets grow rapidly.  Over the sea and along the coast, drops falling from the cloud usually evaporate.”

“At the mountain face, lifting cools the air. Increased condensation and turbulence accelerate drop growth through collision, as flow becomes constrained between mountain and the trade wind inversion. At the cloud-covered mountaintop, mechanical uplift stops and most of the accumulated moisture precipitates as prolonged light or moderate continuous rain.”  (Ramage)

“Hawaii now claims the wettest spots on earth.  From records covering a long period, Cherrapunji, a village at the elevation of about 4,800 feet in the Khasi hills of India, has established a rainfall average of 426 inches a year …”

“Short period observations show that Mount Waiʻaleʻale, the central peak of the island of Kauaʻi, with a height of 5,080 feet, has a yearly average of 476 inches.  Other parts of Hawaii are scarcely less damp.  Puʻu Kukui, 5,000 feet high on the island of Maui, has had a seven-year average of 396-inches.  (The Times, Arkansas, July 9, 1920)

“You all know, more or less definitely, that there is a swampy region on the top of Waiʻaleʻale – but perhaps you do not realize that this swamp extends from Waiʻaleʻale clear back to Nāpali district, comprising a great table land of some 30 or 35 square miles, lying at an elevation varying from 4,000 to 5,000 ft. No such table land is found, at this elevation on any other island.”  (The Garden Island, December 14, 1914)

In 1913, The Garden Island published a letter from George H Dole, a resident of Kauaʻi, to Judge Jacob Hardy, describing the “first ascent of the highest mountain on Kauaʻi by white men.” (1862)  The following are excerpts from that letter and article written 100-years ago (in a lot of respects, I suspect it remains much the same.)

“Permit me merely to premise that the mountain of Waiʻaleʻale, although in former times frequently visited by the natives, had never until our visit been trod by the foot of a haole.”

They left from Waimea, riding on horseback “through the cocoanut groves of the valley until we reached Kalaeokaua, where we turned off into the Makaweli valley.”

“Our general course through this valley was about northeast; as we proceeded, the road, - to use an expression from St. Paul, - waxed worse and worse; the sides of the valley became higher and more precipitous, till they reached a degree of rugged sublimity which made them worthy objects of contemplation.”

“The narrow path led us on up it winding course, now across the pure, cool waters of the brook, and now into the deep shade of a Kukui grove, from whose airy branches the brilliantly dyed little songster whistled a merry "God-speed," or the awkward Aukuʻu (black-crowned night heron) gazed with wonderment in his yellow eyes.”

“The sides of the valley gradually approached each other and increased in height. Ever and anon we paused to take breath, and as we look upon the immense perpendicular walls almost surrounding us where ‘time had notched his centuries in the eternal rock,’ our souls would be filled with astonishment and awe.”

“After a march of an hour or two the trees, which hitherto had appeared only in isolated groves, formed a dense forest, with a wild tangled undergrowth of bushes and vines and heavy grass; the hillsides became less steep than before and green with vegetation.”

“A walk of about five miles brought us to the pretty water-fall of Waikakaa, which is perhaps one hundred and fifty feet in height, - we could only give its arrow-like flakes of white foam a passing glance as they descended with a quiet roar to the dark, deep waters of the round basin beneath, and then hastened up the steep hill, richly robed in a many-tined dress of green.”

“We … lunged into the labyrinths of the primeval forest with which these high table-lands are covered, and from which we only emerged when within a short distance of Waiʻaleʻale’s summit.”

“The trees consist chiefly of Lehua, although the Kauila, ʻŌhia, Koa, and many other varieties are frequently met with. The trees throughout this forest are often covered to the depth of two or three inches with gray moss, and the ground is at frequent intervals heavily carpeted with the same material.”

“The forest became wilder, and the country more broken than ever; not far from the cave we descended into a deep ravine and traveled in the bed of the stream for about a mile, sometimes jumping from one moss-covered stone to another at an imminent risk of slipping heels over head into the chilly water, and sometimes wading with complete abandon through the sparking fluid, where it was not over our knees in depth, to the inevitable deterioration of shoe leather.”

“The smooth sloping sides of Waiʻaleʻale soon greeted our delighted eyes, and in a short time, in crossing the Wainiha stream, we said "au revoir" to the old woods, and found ourselves on an open plain, which had a gentle inclination to the west, and was covered with coarse grass; here and there were clumps of bushes, - principally lehua and ohelo”.

“(S)cattering everywhere were wild flowers, some of them vying in beauty and delicacy with the rarest gems of the garden. In low and swamp spots a small variety of silver sword was growing in such profusion that the ground seemed almost covered with a mantle of snow. This whole vicinity would be, as was remarked by one of the company, an interesting field for the explorations of a botanist.”

Waialeale lake “is of a regular, elliptical shape, its two diameters being respectively forty-seven and forty-two feet;--in short, it appears much like an ordinary fish-pond. The chief outlet is the Wainiha stream at the north-west end; the ground is so extremely level along the course of this stream that it flows for a long distance without any perceptible current, and the water would apparently flow just as well the other way.”

“There is another outlet at the south-east end of the pond; it consist of a ditch, said to have been dug by the natives in some former generation, and conducts the water east to the edge of the tremendous pali, from which the pond is distant but a few rods. This little stream trickle down among the fern and grass is the Wailua River in embryo.”

“Thus this crystal lake in miniature is the source of two large streams which empty themselves into the ocean on opposite sides of the island.”

“If we looked off from the brink of the eastern precipice, whose perpendicular height is several thousand feet, nothing was to be seen but an ocean of cloud, so illuminated by the sun as to appear like a boundless field of the whitest snow beneath our feet. It was a very fine spectacle”.

“The whole of Puna was spread out like a map before us, and an exquisitely beautiful landscape it was. As perfect a combination of dark forests, and shimmering streams, and smooth plains, and verdant hills, and blue ocean, is rarely seen; everything was in harmony, - there was nothing to offend the taste.”

“But although the eastern view was invisible, the western was still unclouded and magnificent; the whole of the western portion of the island lay spread out in quiet grandeur, rugged and for the most part densely wooded. At the northeast was the Wainiha valley, with its blue precipitous sides, forming a yawning gulf so deep that no bottom could be seen from our point of observation.”

“Many miles away in the west the mighty pali of Puʻukapele and Halemanu was strikingly apparent, stretching like a stern impassable barrier across the island, from sea to sea.”

“About four o'clock we struck our tent and set out for the lower regions ... We arrived at Waimea a little after noon the next day, feeling richly repaid for the toil of the journey, but satisfied that much remained yet unseen, and determining that we would try it again next season.”

The image shows Waiʻaleʻale.  In addition, I have included other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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