SM&SP smites mighty Hauula Loop Trail
By Cpl. Matthew A. Callahan
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | September 20, 2013
HAUULA, Hawaii --
Hauula Loop Trail
Single Marine & Sailor Program
I’ve been stationed on the island of Oahu for close to four years now and have often wondered why I haven’t endeavored to explore the more natural side this beautiful place has to offer.
By now I surmise there are far more trails and crazy hikes than nightclubs and all I have under my belt is the Lanikai Pillboxes hike, embarrassing as it sounds, especially to any outrageously athletic men and women in Kailua. I wouldn’t even call it a hike. It’s a running trail with some height and pretty graffiti.
With a deficiency of natural stimuli in mind, I decided to hop aboard the Single Marine & Sailor Program bus in front of Kahuna’s Recreation Center on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Saturday. With some good company, I traveled north to Hauula Loop Trail.
I approached this hike with the same mindset of one taste testing a restaurant’s hot sauce. That is, it can be spicy, but not spicy enough for a lawsuit. My analogy proved correct and the hike turned out to be in the mild hot sauce packet category. That didn’t stop me from packing enough water to hydrate an infantry platoon conducting Range 400 in Twentynine Palms, Calif., though. I didn’t want to risk repeating the desperate struggles of my coworkers who ventured into Kaau Crater hilariously under stocked.
With my three 32-ounce bottles of water and camera gear in tow, I embarked with a group of Marines and sailors and Fawn Liebengood, a recreational assistant with the SM&SP aboard MCB Hawaii.
“We try to do hikes once a month,” said Liebengood, our guide for the day. “We do this to show Marines and sailors different parts of the island, give them exercise and provide them with some free activities to do in their spare time.”
Though there are more physically demanding hikes through the SM&SP, I was left with that wispy ironic feeling this hike was easier than the Pillboxes hike. The SM&SP has many other activities single service members can participate in addition to easy hikes.
"Besides hiking, we do surfing and stand-up paddling lessons, luaus, deep sea fishing, shark cage and dolphin snorkel tours, go-kart racing,” said Liebengood. “We also plan trips to neighboring islands during the summer season like Maui and Kauai.”
Making entry into the thickly canopied trail, we ran into a man jogging and being chased by his out of breath dog. Politely removing ourselves from their trajectory, we pressed onward into the brush.
My Irish descent was not on my side for the first half-mile of our pleasant stroll through the jungle. The thick vegetation closing in on us did not leave much room for moisture to escape the surrounding area. The first 20 minutes of our adventure were sweaty ones indeed. Imagine Niagara Falls relocating to a human face.
After wandering upward from the clutches of the naturally occurring sauna, we marched into a clearing where the view of the mountains opened up. Looking out, there were steep cliff faces engulfed in green and peppered with trees straight out of Planet Endor from “Star Wars.” I’m a nerd, judge me please.
Instead of gazing in silent amazement at the view that lay before us, (all in the party being a product of the 21st Century), everyone’s first reaction was to immediately brandish smartphones and commence amateur photographing in rapid succession. Hash tag — nature.
The framework of the trail was fairly elementary (unlike my wordy sentences). The path was clearly visible at all times and there were a few man-made staircases to complement the earthy tree root steps along the way. I counted about five or six viewing areas where the big green Hawaiian landscape was visible.
Through a brisk hour of small talk, jamming to the music of various mobile devices, and almost becoming intimate with a creek bed or two, our hike had concluded.
If you’re content with breaking a little sweat and viewing the unrelenting beauty of Oahu, I would recommend it. For those more into immeasurable danger and risking of life, the Hauula Loop Trail is not for you. For more information about the SM&SP, visit http://www.mccshawaii.com. Happy hiking folks.