The Stories of Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

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The Stories of Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Oahu
Jan 30, 2013

makapuu hikeThe pedometer app on my iPhone reports that my hike up Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail took 10,860 steps over two miles and gained 500 feet in elevation.

The photographs on my camera reveal the tidepools of Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline, the volcanic remains of Koko Head and Koko Crater, seabirds like the great frigatebird and tropicbird soaring over offshore islets, the near beach of Waimanalo, and the shores of Lanikai and Kailua around a distant point. There are photos, too, of whales—blows and tails. These are distant images, as I didn’t have my telephoto lens with me, so I’d probably have to point them out to you. But what you can see with ease is the lighthouse. Makapuu Lighthouse was built in 1909, restored in recent years and makes a great object on which to train your camera. Indeed, this hike makes the seasoned photographer giddy, because you’ll use all the lenses in your camera bag and all the apps on your iPhone. And don’t forget your Olloclip.

But in addition to stats and photographs, the paved hiking trail that switchbacks up Makapuu in one big “z” holds stories.

Like the one about the distinctive opening of Koko Crater, known as Kohelepelepe, which translates to English as “traveling vagina.” The story goes that the clever goddess Kapo exposed her private bits in order to save her sister Pele from the clutches of Kamapuaa, the pig god. Is anyone surprised that this diversion tactic worked? To celebrate, Kapo left her mark—the rocky cliff in the shape of, well, you get the idea. 
 
makapuu hike view of koko craterThere’s also a less racy story of Manana Island, which received its modern nickname of Rabbit Island, because some folks think it resembles the head of the mammal that was introduced to the island in the 1880s, left to proliferate for some 100 years when it was finally eradicated. Today, Manana Island and its neighbor, Kaohikaipu—sometimes called Turtle Island—are state seabird sanctuaries, requiring special permits to visit.

And, then, there is the story of the City Girls and me. We hit the trail one Saturday in late January. By the time we arrived at 8:00 a.m. all the parking spaces in the lot were full and cars lined most of the sides of the park’s road from the highway. A high school hiking club toted video camera gear. A group of Boy Scouts and their portly pack leader chugged up the hill. A van of Japanese visitors and their tour guide disembarked. And babies in strollers and packs; and children and adults and grandparents; and dogs and walkers and runners and one man walking backwards headed up Makapuu Point.

first view of lighthouse on makapuu point trailAs the sun crested the peak for which we were headed, the City Girls and I took off. We hoofed it straight up, pausing to take various pictures and catch our breath. At the summit, we snapped and posed. We pointed out the “blows” and “flukes” of whales. We discussed the “locks of love” on the fence at the very top, overlooking the lighthouse. We identified Manana and Kaohikaipu Islands, the shores of Waimanalo, Lanikai and Kailua and, in the far distance, Kaneohe. 

On the descent—no huffing here—we pointed out more whales, we chuffed a few dog chins, and we stopped to admire Kohelepelepe, or, as we dubbed it, the “flying vajayjay,” in the startling crisp, clear air we enjoyed that day that revealed every fold and valley of Kapo’s handiwork.

I have a hard time calling Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail a hike. The path, after all, is wide and paved. No, the journey is more a walk. A walk with a good, strong hill to conquer. It’s also a walk to be shared, no matter if you arrive alone or with a group. There will be people. So, instead of a contemplative outing in nature, you’ll commune with nature in the company of people. Make that, you’ll revel in the beauty of nature and be able to express your corresponding awe with the people around you who will be doing the same.

And, then, you’ll go to breakfast and review the photos you took, maybe even to Jack’s in Aina Haina Shopping Center, where you will most assuredly order their famous biscuits and top awesomeness with awesomeness.


Sources:
James, Van. Ancient Sites of Oahu: A Guide to Hawaiian Archaeological Places of Interest. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1991.

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