My 365 Things to Do in Kona Facebook page is getting quite popular with people who share my love of adventure and sharing what’s new and cool out there in Kona-land. Gregg Mangan is a fan who recently took a really cool “only available one day a year” adventure recently and I wanted to share his experience with you here:
“I took a drive on Saturday (Oct. 20, 2012) to Hakalau Forest Reserve on the eastern flank of Mauna Kea for their annual Open House. The particular area of the reserve we visited is only open to the public one day a year. Access is off Saddle Road, then the Summit Road to Mauna Kea for two miles, and then turning onto Mana Road for another 10 miles to the Reserve. This area is a wildlife reserve for several species of endangered birds, including i’iwi, amakihi, ‘akepa, ‘akiapola’au, apapane, Hawaii creeper, elepaio, and oma’o among others. The reserve includes beautiful stands of old growth koa which these birds rely on for habitat needs. Additional planting of koa and other native trees including mamame and fremontia is ongoing. We were fortunate enough to join a group led by Jack Jeffrey to observe 8 species of native birds. If you want to visit the reserve, call the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Hilo, as permission to enter is required. Another hidden jewel on the Big Island.”
Here is additional information from their press release about the event:
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge consists of 32,730 acres of native forest and grassland on the windward slope of Mauna Kea and 5,300 acres of forest on the leeward slope of Mauna Loa. The refuge was established on October 29, 1985, to protect and manage endangered forest birds and their habitat. It contains some of the finest stands of koa-‘ohi‘a forest remaining in the state.
The Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR will be hosting an extended guided birding tour by Jack Jeffrey as a fundraiser this year.(On Oct. 20th, 2012.-Sorry we missed it this year, folks, but use the email address: email@example.com. to get the date for 2013.)
The tours will be held in conjunction with the refuge’s Open House but will leave the Pua ‘Ākala barn at 8:30 a.m. which is 1⁄2 hour before the refuge gates are opened to the general public. The tour group will hike to the bottom of Pua ‘Ākala Road, a couple miles farther than the portion the general public is allowed to access. Groups will remain on and in the vicinity of the bottom portion of the road for as long as they like provided they return to the barn by 3:00 p.m. Cost is $50 per person for members of Friends of Hakalau Forest. Non-members will be charged an additional $25 to cover their cost of membership for one year. For more information and to sign up for the special tour, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants must arrange their own transportation to the refuge. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required for the two- hour drive from Hilo, Waimea, or Kona.
“Families with children are welcome but be prepared for a long rough ride, rugged terrain, and primitive facilities,” said Kraus. Visitors should come prepared for wet chilly weather and bring their own lunch, water, binoculars, warm clothing, and rain gear. Pets are not allowed. Admission to the refuge is free, but reservations are requiredand may be obtained by calling the refuge office in Hilo at 443-2300 by October 17. Directions and additional information will be emailed to all participants.
The kicker here, of course, is the 4WD only and “long, rough ride”..let us know if you have done this adventure-how crazy is that ride out there?