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Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Corp.


2024 Mokuleia Campout Experience

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The Annual HTMC Mokuleia Campout has been a presidents day weekend tradition for many years. This campout was first lead by Dick (Richard) Davis on February 20, 1965 on what was then Washington’s birthday weekend.  Over the years it has been led by a number of HTMC Members including; Kenji Suzuki, Carole Moon, Grant Oka, Larry Lee, Des Matsuno and John Braum. Although the camp spot remains the same, the route has changed. The backpackers used to start from Mt Kaala Road (built in 1961) and continue through pastureland until they met with the Mokuleia Trail at the forest reserve boundary. The current day route starts at Kuaokala trailhead and roughly follows the ridgeline above Makua Valley. HTMC gets permission from NARS for up to 15 backpackers to camp in the area around the hunters’ shelter near a large fruiting orange tree. Back in the old days, the current campsite was home to a dilapidated cabin built in 1932 by Territorial Forestry. Stuart Ball remembers the remains of the cabin when he first visited the area in the 1970s.

Traditionally the campers collected water from the nearby stream and purified it using water filtration devices. Concerns over sufficient water flow in recent years, along with vehicle access through the Mokuleia gate has allowed the trail clearers to drive up to Peacock Flats Campground and not only clear the trail and campground for the campout, but they also shlep bottled water up to the campsite for the backpackers as well. To minimize the impact of our stay, a horizontal trench latrine is dug up and covered over each year.

The Northwest section of the Waianae Mountains is truly an incredible area to spend time. Taking a break from city life to be surrounded by nature and submerged in the wilderness with fellow HTMC Members for a few days is always a special treat. There is nothing quite like backpacking to put life in perspective. If backpacking is not your forte, you can visit the camp area on the HTMC Mokuleia day hike.

This year Presidents Day weekend was February 17 – 19th and John Braum led a group of eleven HTMC Members on the campout. Everyone who joined this year was encouraged to share their backpacking experiences for this article including; highlights, challenges, memorable moments, gear, food and advice. Thank you to the trail clearers for their hard work to transport the water and clear the trail.  Mahalo to John B. for coordinating the campout and everyone who contributed to this article.*


What was the highlight of the campout? 

Sunsets – Rooney

Best weather! Nice and cool with no rain! – Julie

Just having the opportunity to be there again, and getting to spend a weekend with a group of awesome fun people. The camaraderie is absolutely wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. – Farmer Jill 

Experiencing nature within the safety net of fellow HTMC hikers – Andrea 

Sharing a great weekend in Mokuleia with such awesome people – Angela 

Peaceful site – Kinzer

The hike to Three Corners was spectacular, the trail was more clear than usual and the weather was cool and breezy. The views always amaze! – Hawkins

The weather. Last year the weather was not good so I decided not to go. – Rorie


What was the biggest challenge of this year’s campout for you? 

Warmth – Rooney

The start of the hike! – Julie

Lifting my legs high enough to get over the fence with my pack on. (I’m getting older.) Ha ha – Farmer Jill

The unexpected cold. I did not anticipate that. I had the wrong sleeping bag. Next time! I also forgot my spikes. –  Andrea

54F (at least) nights – Angela

Tent envy – Kinzer

Getting out of my warm sleeping bag into the cold. – Hawkins

Staying warm. Should have packed sweatpants. – Rorie


What was your favorite part of the trail?

View of the valley from Three Corners – Rooney

The entire trail is beautiful for different reasons, but my absolute favorite part is early at the start, when walking through the ironwood forest. The ground is soft and it helps to prevent sore painful feet. It’s serene and peaceful there, smells fresh, and you can make tea out of the needles. (I always do on every pass through.) Somehow I feel a special connection every time I’m in an ironwood forest. It’s the best! I also like the section of ironwood trees right before you get out onto the dirt road. I never tire of hunting for pine cones. Each one is more beautiful than the next. So much fun. I love that! – Farmer Jill

I love what those volunteers are doing with the native plants around the snail enclosure. They made a nice meandering trail there. Very pretty. – Andrea

Entering the Pahole Natural Area Reserve – great views and so many cool plants! – Angela

Sunset lookout – Kinzer

There are so many incredible and varied sections along this trail; from majestic pines perched above the azure sea to views of sweeping valleys and distant jagged ridges at times draped in clouds, to the native plants along the way – I love it all. – Hawkins

3 Corners and the Makua Rim overlook (spectacular views). – Rorie


Share a memorable moment.

When it rained oranges – Rooney

Watching the sunset , eating dinner together, and talking story! – Julie

The whole group was topside, bundled up, admiring the view and another beautiful sunset. We took a moment of silence to remember our fallen brother Nathan. I missed his bubbly spirit at camp, laughing and sharing his stunning pictures with all of us. On the hike there were hundreds of tiny yellow and black bees buzzing around and it made me think of Nathan and how if he was there with us, the incredible pictures he’d get. It made me sad but then I told myself, pay attention to the hike and what you’re doing, he’s hiking right next to me. – Farmer Jill

I was thoroughly impressed with the shovel system. Ingenious. Truly. If it is there, it is a go. If it is not there, no vacancies. Just wait. The shovel will be brought back. – Andrea

Everyone heading up to the bench to defrost, start dinner, and enjoy a beautiful sunset. – Angela

Seeing a Ho’awa in one of the native plant sections with a crazy amount of blooms and realizing the huge crashing waves crashing on the north shore created a huge swath of white wash surrounding the area. – Hawkins

The 3 Corners day hike on a beautiful day with congenial people. – Rorie


What was your favorite piece(s) of gear that you brought?

Kenji’s Plants Found on Oahu’s Trails [Booklet] – Rooney

My tent, it protected me from the cold wind! – Julie

This campout was a practice run for my upcoming (Spring) Scotland trek. I got to try out a brand new lighter weight Big Agnes tent, (to replace the one that blew away on the big island,) and a new Kelty backpack. (It’s the same external frame pack you’ve seen me lugging around all these years. I bought it again in a different color because, why fix what isn’t broken? I love those packs! The old one was still going strong after 20+ years. I just wanted some fresh new things for my trip. I also tried out an ultralight sleeping bag, thicker/warmer inflatable mat, a memory foam pillow, new clothes and long underwear, and a compact folding chair, among other things. I was extremely pleased with all my new gear and would highly recommend it. Being warm and comfortable is important to me when camping. I was both. – Farmer Jill

I love my tent and my Anker powerbank. Obviously my boots. My chair. – Andrea

Everything worked well so it’s hard to choose favorites. No regrets bringing my luxury 1lb camp chair. – Angela

Sitting pad, binoculars – Kinzer

Always love my balaclava, keeps me warm hiking and sleeping and I look like a ninja! – Hawkins

Slumberjack bivy tent (1.3 pounds) and an esbit stove (in an attempt to go as light as possible) – Rorie


What gear would you have liked to have with you?

30 degree sleeping bag – Rooney

I missed my cats Daisy and Toby, who snuggle with me under the electric blanket every night.  Having the cats and electric blanket in the tent would have been icing on the cake. – Farmer Jill

Warm sleeping bag. Better ground cover for my tent. Gas stove. Herbal tea bags. – Andrea

A warmer sleeping bag – Angela


What was the most delicious thing that you ate?

Three bean soup – Rooney

Mountain House Granola with milk & blue berries! – Julie

I was pretty proud of the trail bars I made this year; fruit, nuts, seeds, healthy and tasty. – Farmer Jill

Huh? 🙂 Ok. The tangerine tree 20 min from the camp on Mokuleia trail. Awesome! – Andrea

Freshly picked, sweet tangerines – Angela

Mandarin oranges picked along the trail – Kinzer

I carried an avocado in and ate it for lunch with a Wild Planet flavored tuna packet – Hawkins


What was the least delicious thing that you ate? 

Oatmeal – Rooney

Spam musubi – Julie

A Raman soup. I wasn’t really in the mood for it when I made it. It was just there. Meh. – Farmer Jill

The [sour] orange from the orange tree behind the tangerine tree. Same trail. – Andrea

Sour oranges – Angela

Any protein bar – Kinzer


What advice do you have for future campout participants?

Don’t bring a 55 degree bag when the low is 55 degrees – Rooney

Train to carry your weight and set your mindset for the hike and camp out! – Julie

Always camp with trash bags. They are incredibly useful and practical. They can operate as a rain poncho and wind breaker, a dry sack for your belongings, an emergency shelter, a sleeping bag (when several are taped together,) to cover your backpack, as a footprint for your tent, and so much more. And they only weigh a few tiny ounces. Do yourself a favor and don’t camp without them!  – Farmer Jill

Expect the cold. We were lucky, no rain. But expect the rain also. – Andrea

Be prepared for cold, most likely rainy weather. – Angela

Travel light – Kinzer

We were lucky it didn’t rain this year, but come prepared for the WET & COLD! – Hawkins

Watch the weather forecast. If the forecast is for a kona low (heavy rain), just wait another year to go on the campout. – Rorie


Is there anything else you would like to add? 

This is the best campout ever. I look forward to it every year, and will continue to do what ever I can to “stay in the game,” and keep showing up. It means everything to me. The whole experience; physically and mentally doing the hike, taking care of myself, having private “me” time, laughing with good friends until my stomach hurts,  appreciating nature, on and on. I can rant on forever but you get the idea: Camp is a blast!! I wouldn’t give it up for the world. If you haven’t been camping before, join us next year. It will be a life changing experience you’ll never regret. – Farmer Jill

Thank you for organizing these things. I learned a lot and I look forward to the next campout. I also loved that the water was already brought in on trail clearing day. Excellent! – Andrea

Cold weather = less bugs 😉 – Angela

Mahalo to the trail clearers for carrying water in for us and to John B. for coordinating this year’s campout! – Hawkins

A huge mahalo to John B. for coordinating the campout. – Rorie

*All of the photos in this article were taken by individuals on the campout and shared here with permission.