Gang of Four Kawaikini SamplerMany thanks to Gang of Four member Don Nelsen for lending the following photos. They all are of course copyrighted.
The east face of Mount Waialeale drops more than three thousand feet down into the Blue Hole, the box canyon of the west branch of the North Fork of the Wailua River. For comparison, it's approximately the same height as El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. However, unlike El Capitan, this cliff has never been climbed. A trail used to follow the east/west ridge but was abandoned over a hundred years ago. The sharp peak to the right is Pohakupele.
The summit of Mount Waialeale, Kawaikini, is in the center. Note the cliff separating it from "The Island in the Sky"(IS) on the right. The cliff below IS is three thousand high and drops into Olokele Canyon.
Looking north along the rim of the Blue Hole. Somewhere out there is the raingage.
The "Island in the Sky,"(IS) the remotest summit on Kauai upon which is located the Kawaikini benchmark, placed in 1962 (by helicopter). So how did the USGS miss Kawaikini and place the benchmark on the wrong summit? Just a guess, but the Island in the Sky's summit is several acres in size and well suited for landing a chopper, especially a pre-1962 chopper, while the actual summit rises to a peak. I suspect they landed on IS, planning to walk over to Kawaikini, but confronted with the cliff, decided their job descriptions and salaries didn't justify the risk. Having peered down the cliff, I blame them not.
Dave Covill has ventured a bit further than the rest of us. In search of the benchmark, he descended the narrow, hairy ridge leading south from the summit and took this unique photo of the other three members of the GOF atop standing atop Kawaikini.
Looking at the above photos, I wonder why this incredibly beautiful region has been reserved for pigs and goats? Beauty is subjective of course, but I've been around and certainly Mount Waialeale is as magnificent as any place on the surface of the earth. Why is it not a National Park? Obviously the state has neither the will nor the resouces to preserve it.