By Christie Wilson
The Boy Scouts got it right: Be pre-
When heading into Hawaii’s wilder-
ness, that means checking the
weather forecast, bringing adequate
supplies and equipment, knowing the
needs of companions with medical
conditions, informing friends and fam-
ily of your hiking plans so they’ll know
if something’s amiss and being aware
of the potential hazards and what to
do when in trouble.
“Planning and preparedness are re-
ally important,” said Maury Agcaoili, a
wilderness and remote first-aid in-
structor for the American Red Cross
Hawaii State Chapter. “People are out
there to have fun, so definitely have
fun but just be prepared for the dan-
gers on these trails.”
Agcaoili first became interested in
the outdoors as a Boy Scout, and he
carried the lessons he learned in his
youth into his job with the Red Cross.
During his quarterly classes he takes
participants into a rain-forest environ-
ment to face different emergency sce-
“The biggest mistake (hikers make)
is thinking that they can do more than
they really can and not being pre-
pared,” he said.
Another is failing to bring enough
water for everyone in the hiking party,
not only to avoid dehydration, but for
cleaning wounds and other purposes.
Other necessities —no matter how
easy or short the adventure —include
a first-aid kit and means of communi-
cation, whether it’s a cellphone, whis-
tle, signal mirror or brightly colored
But don’t count on phone reception
in remote areas. Agcaoili advises
checking for reception every mile or
two and noting the location so that in
the event of an emergency, hikers can
backtrack to that spot.
If packing a lot of supplies seems
like a hassle, break up the load among
the group members so it’s manage-
able, he said.
Although a knowledgeable out-
doorsman, Agcaoili still enjoys famil-
iar hikes such as the trail to Diamond
Head summit.
Because it’s in an urban setting and
well publicized, some hikers underes-
timate the trek and may not realize it
could take an hour or more for rescue
crews to reach an injured person, he
“It’s one of the easier ones, but even
then I see people going up with no wa-
ter or hiking in slacks and dress
But that’s not the case, according
to Jessica Ferracane, spokeswoman
for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park:
“These are wild places. This is not
Disneyland or a theme park. You
can get into trouble if you’re not
hurt you in the great outdoors is
substantial: Mountain streams can
suddenly become raging rivers.
Idyllic waterfalls can unleash killer
boulders. Freshwater pools and
rivers offer unseen hazards and
slippery footing for jumpers, under-
currents for swimmers and poten-
tially deadly leptospirosis infection
for all.
There were 21 drownings in
Hawaii rivers and streams between
2007 and 2011, according to the
state Department of Health.
One of the scariest ways to
drown is in a flash flood, a phenom-
enon that can strike without warn-
ing in Hawaii. A squall high in the
mountains can be out of sight from
those basking in the sun down-
stream. In some cases, survivors
have described walls of water
hurtling down narrowvalleys with
the speed of a freight train.
Jake Barefoot, CEO of TomBare-
foot Tours, remembered a time he
was at Twin Falls on Maui, a popular
Hana Highway stop with a stream,
pool and waterfalls in a narrow
gulch. He witnessed a tranquil
scene morph into a raging torrent
within a minute’s time.
“The level of flash flooding in
Hawaii is ridiculous compared to
other places,” Barefoot said.
As for hikers, there are lots of
amazing trails on all the Hawaiian
Islands leading to scenic lookouts.
Many of the mountain paths are
quite narrow, slick fromregular
rainfall and crumbly with a steep
drop-off on one or both sides.
“It’s easy to trip and fall,” said
David Jenkins, Honolulu Fire De-
partment spokesman. “All it takes is
one misstep and you’re off.”
Our list of dangerous places spot-
lights hazardous mauka areas with
one exception: the notorious
Queen’s Bath on Kauai, where peo-
ple don’t intend to enter the ocean,
but can end up being slammed
against the rocks and swept out to
sea by rogue waves.
At the most visited dangerous
place —Hawai‘i Volcanoes National
Park on the Big Island —you can
get into all kinds of peril, from
breathing toxic volcanic fumes or
walking into a surprise eruption to
getting caught on a collapsing lava
bench or sprayed by scalding water
at an ocean entry, fromgetting lost
during a backcountry hike to being
unprepared for a blizzard atop
13,678-foot Mauna Loa.
Park officials say nearly 5,000 visi-
tors a day stay safe by following the
rules, obeying signs and avoiding
foolish behavior.
That’s probably a good rule of
thumb anywhere you go in Hawaii.
Have a safe summer.
clip & save
The American Red Cross’ next
wilderness and remote first-
aid course will take place 8
a.m. to 6 p.m. July 12 and 13.
Participants must possess
adult CPR/AED certification
and be at least 14 years old.
The class fee is $150. For infor-
mation and registration, visit or call 734-2101.
Water, first-aid kits are vital supplies
Continued fromF1
DANGER: Flash floods are a sudden, terrifying threat
Queen’s Bath is a picturesque pool
in a lava shelf along the ocean at the
bottomof a steep path in Princeville.
During the summer it’s usually calm,
clear and inviting.
Don’t let that fool you. A sign with
skull and crossbones at the entrance
to the beach offers a gruesome
count: 29 deaths. The area is so
dangerous that Sue Kanoho,
executive director of the
Kauai Visitors Bureau, refuses
to give directions to it. TomBare-
foot, founder of TomBarefoot’s
Tours, discourages people fromgoing
“It’s a dangerous spot. It’s not
worth the risk,” he writes on his com-
pany’s website.
Barefoot says Queen’s Bath can be dangerous any time of year and deceptive on the calmest of days. All it
takes is one rogue wave to knock you in the ocean and slamyou into the rocks.
It’s worth noting there are similarly dangerous and deceptive coastal “baths” on other islands, including the
Olivine Pools on Maui and Makapuu Tide Pools on Oahu. Both Olivine and Makapuu have claimed multiple
lives in similar ways in recent years.
The Kalalau Trail is a magnificent hike along the stunning and remote Na Pali
Coast. But the 22-mile round trip can be cruel, especially to those who are not pre-
pared. The trail, part of the Na Pali Coast State Park on the northwestern section of
the island, is narrowand crumbly, and more treacherous after rainfall turns the
path into a slippery mess. That can be a problemwhen you’re negotiating a section
of cliff that drops 300 feet into rocky surf. Falling rock is a risk at the various wa-
terfalls along the trail, and flash floods can transformthe many small stream
crossings into cascading torrents.
Lives have been lost and there have been numerous accidents, but
the narrowpath may not be the biggest danger. More than 100 people
have died while swimming on the trail’s remote beaches.
In April the Kauai Fire Department completed a rescue of 121 stranded hik-
ers on the Kalalau Trail after fast-flowing waters made the Hanakapiai Streamim-
passable. A 12-year-old boy ended up being swept downstreambefore he climbed
onto some rocks on the opposite bank. He was stranded there for more than four
hours before he was rescued.
Kalalau was named one of America’s 10 most dangerous trails by Backpacker
Magazine in 2008, and Outside Magazine included Kalalau in its 20 most dangerous
hikes around the world.
Oahu residents and visitors still lament the closing of Sacred Falls
State Park in 1999 after a horrific rockfall killed eight people and in-
jured 50.
The state’s decision to close the Punaluu park —a relatively easy
hike that was popular with families —was based on recommendations
fromgeologists and after it was determined the public risk was too
great. In 2003 the state agreed to pay $8.56 million to the families
of the rockfall victims, who claimed warning signs were inade-
quate at the time of the rockfall.
Officials say there are no plans to reopen the site —yet adven-
turers continue to ignore the no-trespassing signs and hike the area.
The danger at Sacred Falls didn’t begin with the killer rockfall. Since
1970 there have been 22 deaths, dozens of injuries and scores who
have had to be rescued due to rockslides and flash floods.
This popular Maunawili trail features three
peaks along 2.5 miles of rugged terrain with an
elevation gain of 1,643 feet. The first and sec-
ond peaks are hard enough for most, but
the third peak is the most dangerous
with its steep and narrowridge and
unstable rock. It is passable only with
the aid of ropes.
In 2004 two hikers fell more than 100 feet
but miraculously survived. In April 2011 experi-
enced hiker Ryan Suenaga, 44, fell to his death,
and on Jan. 10, Mitchell Kai, an off-duty Hono-
lulu fireman, died after a fall in the same area.
The trail is open to the public but it is not
managed as part of the state’s trail system.
Wailuku means “waters of destruction,”
an appropriate description for a river
armed with hidden lava tubes notorious
for creating hazardous swimming condi-
tions, particularly during and after heavy
The 28-mile river, Hawaii’s longest, trav-
els through Hilo’s Wailuku River State
Park, which includes RainbowFalls
and Pe‘epe‘e Falls and an area
called Boiling Pots, a series of
small falls and pools. During the
rainy season, the river churns through
these pots as the water flows beneath a
level of old lava and then bubbles up, as if
boiling. Undertowcurrents have been
known to trap swimmers in lava tubes.
At one time the Wailuku accounted for
25 percent of the river drowning deaths in
the state and was estimated to claima life
each year. Four people drowned at the Wai-
luku River between 2007 and 2011, accord-
ing to the Health Department.
Between 4,000 and 5,000 people visit the park each day, drawn by the opportunity to get a close-up
viewof a powerful and primal wonder of nature.
“But volcanoes are not theme parks, and visitors need to take responsibility for their safety by
obeying posted signs, staying on marked trails and checking with park rangers on the latest
eruptive conditions,” said park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane.
The problemis not everyone does that, and there have been numerous deaths and in-
juries over the years, fromexposure to hazardous volcanic fumes and lava outbreaks.
Park rangers conducted 26 search-and-rescue actions in 2012, 16 in 2013 and six thus far this
year. They include a hiker caught in snowstormon the trail to Mauna Loa summit in January, a
man who survived a 115-foot fall after climbing over a barrier behind Volcano House in August, and a
lost 76-year-old hiker who spent a night in the lava fields near Puu Huluhulu in August.
The Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park includes a pic-
turesque streamwith a string of pools and waterfalls descending
to the ocean. Closer to where Oheo Gulch opens to the ocean are
the famous freshwater pools commonly known as Seven Sacred Pools.
But this place is as unpredictable as it is wild. Over the years the area
has had more than its share of fatalities, many linked to flash flooding, rockslides or swim-
ming or jumping into the pools.
In the wake of a series of flash-flood deaths and the resulting multimillion-dollar law-
suits, safety was improved with the installation of a monitoring system. A series of sensors
along several miles of the Palikea and Oheo streams tracks flows and rainfall, and the sys-
temsounds an alarmat the Kipahulu Visitor Center when flash-flood conditions are possi-
ble, signaling park rangers to close the pools to visitors.
That hasn’t stopped the tragedies, however.
In the latest incident a 54-year-old Texas woman died June 12 after falling froma narrow
ledge above the pools. She apparently was trying to get fromone pool to another when
she fell 15 feet.
r sk
At your own
Hawaii’s most dangerous sites
are beautiful and deadly, causing
scores of fatalities over the years
Veteran hiker and author Richard McMahon
considers Puu Manamana too dangerous to be
worth the risk. Stuart Ball in “The Hikers
Guide to O‘ahu” describes it as one of the
most dangerous hikes on the island.
The trail, he writes, “becomes diffi-
cult right away and then gets
McMahon says Puu Manamana is usu-
ally done as a loop hike along a narrow
ridge, beginning near Crouching Lion in Kaaawa
and ending on Trout FarmRoad. The trail fea-
tures knife-edge ridges, unstable rock and sheer
Hikers have fallen to their deaths here, includ-
ing a 23-year-old woman who fell 300 feet in June
Nathan Yuen’s HawaiianForest.comblog of-
fers this warning: Manamana is “extremely dan-
gerous and should only be attempted by trained
experienced climbers with the proper climbing
equipment.” Yuen says the trail is unforgiving,
“and any slip is likely to result in serious injury if
not death. It would be a good idea to have an ad-
vance medical directive and last will and testa-
ment in place before attempting this climb.”
The trail is open to the public but it is not
managed as part of the state’s trail system.
Going for a hike? Be prepared
1. Prepare your hiking route; maps and directions are available on the Department of Land and
Natural Resources website (
2. Tell someone about your plans, including trail name, location and estimated return time.
3. Be aware of your physical limitations, skills and energy levels.
4. Check the weather forecast: If a stormis on the way, consider hiking on another day or selecting
trails in drier areas.
5. Carry a small pack with water, basic first-aid materials, energy snacks, cellphone and plastic
garbage bag for collecting rubbish or to use as rain gear.
6. Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes with good traction.
7. Stay on marked and maintained trails that are designated for public use; don’t court danger by
hiking on adjacent ridgelines or gulches or climbing cliffs.
8. If the direction of the trail looks confusing, go back and start over.
9. Do not hike alone; make it a group outing.
10. Keep track of the time and allowsufficient time to return before dark.
Source: State Department of Land and Natural Resources
>> Self-adhesive bandages
>> Sterile 3-by-3-inch gauze
>> Adhesive tape
>> Moleskin
>> Antibiotic ointment
>> Scissors
>> Tweezers
>> Soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel
>> Nonlatex disposable gloves
>> Cardiopulmonary resuscitation breathing barrier
>> Paper and pencil
Source: Maury Agcaoili, American Red Cross wilderness and remote first-aid instructor

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful