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I moved to Hawaii in early 2014 to live with my girlfriend, Elaine Grace. With my background in canyoneering, I wanted to try it on the Big Island. As I researched different locations, I found Kamae’e Creek located near the World Botanical Gardens near Mile Marker 16 on Highway 19, Mamalahoa Highway, Big Island of Hawaii.
I studied Google Earth and written descriptions of the route on the Internet. At least one other party had canyoneered the creek from put-in to take out. On July 29, 2014 at approximately 10:00 am (too late as it turned out), Elaine dropped friend Kurt Korpond and I off at the put-in. With us in our day packs, we had ropes, water, food,1 waterproof headlamp and (most relevantly) an ACR PLB-375 ResQLink +406 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon (purchased from Amazon on December 16, 2013 and carried for the first time on this trip).
We hiked down this beautiful creek expecting no trouble. We only had some Google Earth information and a faint idea how many waterfalls to expect. Everything went well until one of the later waterfalls where the rappel rope got stuck on the anchor. Unable to retrieve the rope, Kurt ascended the rope with prusiks. It took a long time to finally free the rope It consistently gets dark in Hawaii at 7:00 p.m. (even in July just past summer solstice). We weren’t able to descend the next waterfall until just before sunset. Very soon after that waterfall descent, we found ourselves in the dark (no moon) with a headlamp that didn’t work. Plus, we were wet and very cold. We had a couple of cigarette lighters that didn’t produce enough light to see where we were going. We started a fire, unfortunately it was quickly extinguished by rain that set in. We huddled together, very cold and very miserable. It was too dark to safely hike any further, plus we didn’t know how much further we had to go before the next waterfall. At approximately 1:00 a.m., it continued to rain but now heavily. Being from Arizona all I could think of was Flash Flood! That was when I used the ACR Locator Beason. I was hoping that someone would rescue us with a helicopter before we became hypothermic or washed away in a flood.
It turned out that the Honolulu Coast Guard was contacted and they do not fly helicopters at night in Hawaii. We ended up cuddling all night, hoping that we wouldn’t get washed away and that we would survive the Hawaiian night far colder than I had expected. Elaine and my brother (Chris) were both notified by the Coast Guard that we were located within ½ mile upstream of Elaine’s location. In the morning we walked out, met Elaine, and went for breakfast.
Always Be Prepared.
You guys are the best!!
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