Thursday, May 17 – Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest, Laupahoehoe Unit
After leaving Hilo Wednesday evening, we camped at Kalopa State Park, 2000 ft up the slopes of Mauna Loa. Today, we met up with US Forest Service Ecologist Dr. Christian Giardina who gave us a brief introduction to Biocultural Conservation Practices. This resource management philosophy seeks to find common ground and shared wisdom among traditional Hawaiian stewardship methods and western science-based approaches. Christian lead us up into the Laupahoehoe unit of the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest where he introduced us to some of the largest Ohia trees in the archipelago. To cross into the forest, we learned and sang an “Oli,” a chant that conveys gratitude and gives an opportunity to pause and reflect before entering special places. Over a breezy and sunny trail-side lunch, we talked climate change and the characteristics of the HETF that help us understand how the forest of the future will be different.
After a beautiful hike down the forest trail, surrounded by plant species found nowhere else on earth, Holly treated everyone to popsicles in the hot afternoon sun. Now it’s back up the mountain to our highland campsites at Kalopa SP.