Thursday, May 3, 2018

Exploring A Pristine Rainforest and Sugar Cane Era Flumes

Photos by Lee Neal

Yesterday's sold out Ka‘u Mountain Water Systems Hike was led by Kaʻu's new Planning Commissioner John Replogle, The Nature Conservancy's Shalan Crysdale, and Kaʻū Coffee Mill's Manager Lou Danielle.
They explained how the old sugar plantation around Pahala created a water system, now used for irrigating different crops from coffee to macadamia. In the future, the water running down the mountain could provide the energy to run a hydroelectric plant being developed by the Edmund C. Olson Trust, which owns Kaʻu Coffee Mill. That electricity could potentially run the mill and manufacture other value added farm products.
     All the while, the area remains as one of the most pristine native Hawaiian rainforests. It is also a place where local hunters catch pigs and cultural practitioners gather native foliage used in ceremonies and in hula, including maile woven into lei.
     The hikers left from Kaʻu Coffee Mill, riding through the coffee orchards, up the mountain and into the rainforest. They walked along trails from sugar plantation days.
     Features of the hike included the sugar cane-era wooden flume system that used to carry cane to the mill. Also along the way were pipes carrying the water for irrigation and toward the hydroelectric plant.
     The hikers had a chance to observe the natural area, with the sights, smells, and sounds of a mostly undisturbed rainforest.

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