Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I'm going up into the mountains to beg the gods for water.

OK, I'm going to go up in a Toyota Tacoma with a bunch of guys to map out a waterline from a spring deep in the mountains, and the actual gods that I have to appease are a bunch of bureaucrats in Honolulu, but still it's going to be a primal day of slithering around in the mud and the ferns literally searching for the source of all goodness and life: fresh water.

I've been up to this spring perhaps a half a dozen times in the last 15 years. Although it's marked on any number of maps, it is still a little tricky actually finding the living, bubbling thing in all that forest. We want to bring a little of the water down to help the ranchers of the area survive this El Nino winter, but the spring is located in a conservation district and the layers of bureaucratic permitting that shield it from even the most innocent use are forbidding, to say the least.

Actually it's not really a spring either, as it was created in the twenties and thirties by the sugar plantations. Work crews dug a horizontal shaft into the mountains at the meeting point of a porous layer of lava stone and an impervious layer of volcanic ash. Where the water filtering through the rock met the thick ash, fresh water would flow sideways creating a potential water source.

One of the unforgettable moments of my life was the day we hiked up into the mountains, past the known spring in search of a half-remembered one, into a deeper wilderness of moss-thick ravines shaded by hapu'u ferns and came upon, in all that brown and green, a straggly red rose-bush with a single bloom struggling for light where some long-dead tunnel diggers had planted it near their camp as they searched the mountain's layers of rock and ash for the hidden streams of water.

1 comment:

Haole Wolf said...

I want to hear more about this important adventure. Please post updates! I hope you took some pictures... Often in the woods of southern Indiana, you come upon a patch of daffodils, irises or tiger lilies and if you paw around you find some artifacts of a homestead -- such a tangible and poignant example that the ground holds our disturbances and memory long after our passing, even gentle ones...