Talk Story with Dayle Turner
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Joined HTMC: 1996
Favorite hike (currently): Olomana
Favorite trail food: Vienna sausage
Interviewed by email: Newsletter Committee
When did you FIRST start hiking?
I didn’t start hiking in earnest until I was in my early 30s (I will be 64 this year). Prior to that, I was an active guy and played team sports as a youth and in high school, but hiking was not one of my activities of choice. Back then, despite having lived on Oahu all my life, I was oblivious to the hiking opportunities on the island. I had never heard of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club.
WHEN and WHY did you join HTMC?
Hauula-Papali, led by Sandy Klein, was my first hike with the club. It was also one of my first dates with my then girlfriend (and now my wife) Jacqueline. She actually suggested the hike after seeing a blurb about it in the local paper. So we went and had an interesting time.
During the outing, I struggled on what was described as a novice hike. I also was directionally impaired, missing a key junction and ending up leading a small group into Maakua Gulch. I knew something was wrong when we found ourselves rock-hopping in a stream bed instead of being up on a ridge like Sandy said we were supposed to. At Jacque’s suggestion, we turned around. Smart wahine! No wonder I married her.
I also remember getting a copy of the club’s hike schedule from Sandy. While reading it, I took note of one hike in particular, the KST backpack and its “Advanced/Expert” designation. I recall thinking at the time that if a novice hike like Hauula-Papali caused me to struggle, then an advanced hike would be way beyond my ability. But I was determined. There’s a Hawaiian saying, “Kulia i ka nu’u,” which in translation means “Strive for the highest.” I suppose that’s what I continued to do.
Why do you CONTINUE to pursue hiking?
It’s a great way to exercise. I also like being in the mountains. Wing Ng told me tramping around up mauka is in my DNA. I was an English major in college and have taught English/writing at a community college for a number of years, so hiking also gives me material to write about. I began writing about my hiking experiences, many with the club, and posting them to the internet before blogging was even a thing. I’ve been encouraged, especially by my wife, to write a book about hiking in Hawaii.
Well, Stuart Ball, a man I admire for a lot of reasons, has done a great job of writing several books on hiking in the islands, so his work has wonderfully filled that niche. Stuart, by the way, trained me to be a hike leader for the club. I’m grateful to him for his guidance. Among the things he taught me was the helpfulness of what he called “confidence ribbons” which gives a hiker passing by the confidence he or she is on the right track. Now, whenever I’m checking and marking a trail for an upcoming hike, I remember to put up ribbons at places even where the trail is obvious and there is no possibility of going off track. Confidence ribbons.
Can you think of some memorable HTMC hike experiences that you would like to share?
May 9, 1999, Mother’s Day.
I was working with the club’s trail clearing crew in Koloa Gulch that day. Also on that day, not far away from us, eight people were killed by a devastating rockslide at Sacred Falls. To this day, Sacred Falls is a hike I’ve never done and probably never will do. That same year, in Kahana Valley, I also remember helping with the search for the two Danish girls, who were found by club members Tom Yoza, Ken Suzuki, and Jim Pushaw. At the urging of Mabel Kekina, another club member I admire a lot, I participated in several other searches over the years – for Daniel Levey in Palolo Valley, for George Morishima in Nuuanu Valley, for Robert Lefevre at Wahiawa Hills. The club was really good about helping in searches and I was happy to help out.
My first time on the trail clearing crew was memorable. We were scheduled to work on the Halawa trail. I arrived late to the designated meeting place on the still-under-construction H-3 freeway in Halawa Valley, so, with everyone having departed to begin working, I set off to find the trail. I walked up the access road under H3 but somehow missed the turnoff junction, so I continued mauka until I came upon some workmen. No, they hadn’t seen anyone hike past, so I commenced to backtrack on the access road until I spotted a ribbon on the slope leading up to Halawa ridge. At that point, up I went on what I thought was “the” trail but it actually wasn’t. So I ended up bashing my way upslope until I hit the ridgetop and the Halawa Trail. For those who have never hiked Halawa, it’s a magnificent trail that obviously took a lot of people-power to construct. I’m saddened that we can’t hike it anymore.
I also recall the moment when the opening of the Waiau trail was complete. I was the ramrod of a group of us who had hiked up the Waimano trail, then crossed over on the summit to begin clearing Waiau ridge from the top down. With no established route to work with, we found the going hard and slow, but we were determined. Meanwhile, Tom Yoza was the ramrod of the bottom-up group and when I came upon him, about a mile mauka of a place on Waiau Ridge we had christened “The Big Dip”, I vividly recall sticking my machete into the ground, smiling, and shaking his hand. I’m happy the club is still hiking Waiau.
I came upon feral pigs a number of times while I’ve hiked, and probably one of the more memorable encounters was on the Koolau Summit Trail somewhere between Laie and the Castle trail junction. As I was hiking, I noted on the trail a large quantity of pig scat, seemingly fresh. A pig hunter once told me that na pua’a have poor eyesight (“they kinda blind,” he said) but have superior senses of hearing and smell, so if people ever come upon a pig it’s probably because they were downwind of it and because it couldn’t hear them coming (the hunter said the sounds of rain and wind are excellent sound masks). Anyway, at that time on the KST, I came upon a pig splayed out on the trail. It appeared asleep or dead. Reckoning it was the latter, and wanting to make sure, I prodded it with my hiking pole only to make the discovery that, instead, it was not dead! The pig bolted up from its slumber and instead of turning and running, it advanced toward me. I chose to flee instead of fight, and so I backpedaled. Because I was focused on the advancing pig and not where I was reversing, I fell off the trail but thankfully not at a precipitous spot. But my landing place still put me in jeopardy of an attack-by-pua’a, but I again was fortunate that the pua’a decided to stop its advance and run away.
What is your INVOLVEMENT with HTMC over the years?
I served as membership chair for a while. I was also on the board for a few years and served a term as club president. Someone told me I was the first person of Hawaiian ancestry to serve as president of Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. If that’s true, I’m honored. I’ve also been a hike leader/coordinator/trailhead consultant for 25+ years, including coordinating the KST backpack three times (yes, the hike I thought was beyond me). I also was a member of the trail maintenance crew for a long time. In fact, I did trail maintenance faithfully for several years before becoming a member. I think it was Ken Suzuki who told me to wise up, pay my dues, and join the club officially instead of being a freeloader, so I did.
On Maui, we did a service trip to rarely-visited Pu’u Kukui, hiked and camped in Haleakala a couple of times, and stayed at Waianapanapa and did a lot of waterfall hikes along the Hana Highway. I also was privileged to camp and hike up along Manawainui Gulch in a sea-to-summit ascent of Haleakala with club members Ed Gilman, Mark Short, and Mark’s dog Kimba. Pat Rorie later followed our route and did it as a dayhike!
On Kauai, a sizable group of us cabin-camped and hiked the matrix of trails in the Koke’e area. We also did the Kalalau backpack a couple times. On Hawaii island, there were ascents of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, a backpack trek to camp at Halape, a service project at Hakalau, and a nice stay at Kalopa. Regrettably, I’ve never hiked on Molokai, which is where my maternal grandfather, Edward Dudoit, was born. Maybe one of these days.
Do you have a FAVORITE trail or area on Oahu?
The Aiea Loop trail is the one I’ve done more than any other, so it should be my favorite, right? Actually, I’ve hiked Aiea more than others because it’s conveniently located between where I live in Kaneohe and where I work in Pearl City. As such, I used to hike the loop regularly after work and before I headed home. I am also partial to loop trails compared to out and back ones. I haven’t hiked Aiea Loop in a while, though. In the Waianae range, I’m partial to the climb to Three Poles from the end of the BOWS road. It’s what some of us have come to know as an “honest trail.” It’s just up with no false summits and no-downs. I learned to embrace my suffering on that trail.
Where have you hiked outside of Hawai’i?
My hiking outside of Hawaii hasn’t been extensive. Back in 1989, I hiked to the Arizona high point, Humphrey’s Peak, during the time I was living in Flagstaff for grad school. My wife and I hiked in the Mount Jacinto area above Palm Springs. Nice! We also hiked Red Rock Canyon, north of Las Vegas, during our honeymoon in 2004. Interesting.
What do you BRING ALONG when you go on a hike?
I used to use high-top football cleats, which provide great traction, of course, but are not so great for cushioned footfalls for a large-bodied individual. A bout with plantar fasciitis prompted me to seek a change, so I transitioned to trail running shoes, starting with the Montrail Vitesse (not made anymore) and then onto New Balance, the latter because it comes in 5E widths. I’m also a user of hiking poles, having become a believer when I saw a hiker with two poles go sailing past me down the steep Kolowalu trail.
I also bring with me knowledge I’ve gained from club members. From Grant Oka, for example, I learned to put my “nose over my toes” when descending a steep, slippery trail. From Peter Kempf, I learned the importance of foot placement to hike more efficiently and to avoid slips and falls. From John Hall, Ken Suzuki, Charlotte Yamane, and Kost Pankiwskyj, I learned to recognize endemic flora from non-native invasives. From Mabel Kekina, I learned about tireless service. I can go on and on about what I’ve learned from other club members.
What do you think is the key to staying fit and active as you age?
Just keep moving. I don’t hike as much as I used to, but I’ve kept moving by walking/urban hiking and bike riding. For my most recent birthday, my wife got me an Apple Watch, which has helped me schedule and track my daily movement. I’ve been working/teaching from home during the pandemic, but I’ve tried to stay physically active. The tech has helped me stay accountable.
Anything else you would like to share with HTMC members?
I like Ken Suzuki’s suggestion that the club err… corp change its focus to service and trail maintenance rather than hiking. There is a lot of fulfillment that will come from being in service, and I’m grateful that the club has afforded me many opportunities to serve. Mahalo HTMC!
Dayle is the son of Charles and Martha Turner, was born and raised on Oahu, and has lived in Kaneohe for most of his life. He has two brothers and two sisters. He attended public schools in grades K thru 3, then was accepted into the Kamehameha Schools where he graduated in 1976.
He was offered and accepted an athletic scholarship to play football for Boise State University, where he attended and played for a year before opting to return to Oahu, homesick. Dayle continued his education at the University of Hawaii, where he eventually earned a BA in English. During his undergrad years, he returned to Kamehameha where he coached football and basketball for a decade. Looking for a change, he left Oahu in 1989 to attend grad school at Northern Arizona University (ASU) in Flagstaff and then settled and worked on the mainland. He earned an MA in English from NAU in a year and then applied for teaching positions at dozens of colleges in the western U.S. and in Hawaii. He received just one callback–from Leeward Community College in Pearl City. After an interview, he was offered a job in 1990, and has remained at LCC in good stead as a tenured professor of English to the present. Retirement will likely come in the next few years.
Ten years after that date on the Hauula-Papali hike, Dayle married Jacqueline Bell on 654321 (i.e. June 5, 2004 at 3:21 pm) at the beautiful chapel on the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama campus. For the nuptials, HTMC members outnumbered Dayle and Jacque’s family members! Dayle and Jacque are now grandparents of three, including 3-year-old granddaughter Amora, who they hope to take hiking somewhere soon.
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