Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kalalau ridge see-through hole got bigger this summer

Keanapuka feature at center bottom.
Credit: Photo by Jan TenBruggencate
A ridge on Kalalau Valley’s northeast wall has long had a hole punched right through it, but the hole is now much bigger and more visible than it once was--thanks to a series of landslides this summer
That’s the conclusion from numerous Kalalau veterans about a feature known as Keanapuka. It is identified by that name on old maps.

The name Keanapuka itself—meaning cave with a hole—suggests the existence of the feature. But a series of rock slides earlier this year—likely late this summer—expanded its size.

Steve Perlman, a researcher with the state Plant Extinction Prevention Program, has spent many hours rappelling down the Kalalau cliffs, locating and preserving native plant species. He and longtime botanical partner Ken Wood arguably know the Kalalau cliff faces better than anyone alive.
And he knows Keanapuka well.

“There was always a smaller puka there on that ridge. But a few months ago, about 3, there were major rock slides with a much larger hole now,” Perlman said in an email.

Others, responding on Facebook, confirmed that they were aware of the long-existing smaller hole.
Kimberlee Stuart thought the size had changed: “Saw this last spring- not sure if it was that big though.”

Paul Clark, who has operated by boat along Na Pali Coast, said it has been visible from the sea: “Have seen this by boat and pointed it out since 1995 - (sure it was there before then too).”

And Wayne Jacintho, a longtime hiker in Kaua`i’s uplands, said that the hole can sometimes in the late afternoon be a lens through which the sun shines from the west, creating a window of light on the valley wall next door to the east.

“It's an old hole. If you're down the ridge on the left (southwest) side of Kalalau Valley, at the correct time of the year, in the afternoon, (looking northeast) you'll see the sun shine thru the hole and illuminate the wall to the right in the ravine,” Jacintho wrote. (I slightly edited his post for clarity.)

Keanapuka place name on the Kauai Recreaation Map of the
Na Ala Hele Hawai`i Trail & Access System. 
The site is noted on the Western Kauai Recreation Map of the Na Ala Hele Hawai`i Trail and Access System.

Keanapuka is not easily visible from anywhere accessible by road. The best view is late afternoon from the Pihea Trail along the back (southeast) end of Kalalau Valley. The trail starts at Pu`u O Kila, a promontory and lookout at the end of the Koke`e Road.

As we noted in a previous post, there are many examples of such voids or arches in the volcanic ridges of the Islands, where a narrow middle section of a rock feature breaks away, but leaves the rock arch overhead.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2017

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