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Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Corp.


Talk Story with Yucong and David

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HTMC Talk Story #20

The Essential Questions

What is your favorite hike on Oʻahu?

Yucong (Y): Makiki Valley Trail

David (D): Kaʻau Crater because it has three great waterfalls in addition to an intact volcanic crater.

What is your favorite hiking snack/food?

Y: Apples

D: 7-Eleven sandwiches for lunch

What is your favorite book or movie about hiking?

Y: The movie Wild (Reese Witherspoon stars as Cheryl Strayed who hiked 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail by herself)

D: Stuart Ball’s Hiker’s Guide to Oʻahu

What do you bring along when you go on a hike?

Y: I love my Vasque Breeze hiking boots. 

D: I love my Leki ultralight carbon fiber Z-poles.

When did you first start hiking and why do you continue to pursue hiking?

Y: A church group organized a hike on Pūpūkea from Sunset Beach Elementary School.  It was raining and muddy and I was ill prepared and the group got lost too.  Despite the hardships, it was beautiful.  Then I discovered Makiki Valley Trail near my home that I did 3-4 times a week in the early mornings before going to work.  It was great cardio and not very difficult, so I could finish it in 1-1.5 hours.  After hiking, I always felt refreshed and energized for the rest of the day.

D: My first hike was as a graduate student when friends took me on a short hike in the Oakland hills.  After that I continued to hike to visit interesting places and view nice scenery.

Do you remember when you joined the club and why?

Y: David introduced me to the club in 2018, so that we can explore more hikes on this island.

D: I first hiked with HTMC on ʻAiea Ridge (I reached the helipad), during which I heard that an experienced long-time member fell 50 feet off the trail and was rescued by other club members with a rope.  After that I thought that hiking with HTMC was a little more dangerous than I wanted to deal with at that time in my life.  Many years later, after I lost my regular hiking partner (my son went off to the mainland for college), I joined HTMC to prep for hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and stayed because of the great people in the club.

Can you think of one memorable HTMC hike experience that you would like to share?

Y: The New Year’s day hike is just so beautiful with a walk along the Kaʻiwi shoreline and a climb up Koko Crater with its panoramic 360º views.

D: One time doing Mānoa Middle with Yucong on a rainy, muddy day, we were the only hikers that chose to go along the ridge (everybody else chose the much more sensible contour trail).  One section was so narrow that I crossed on my hands and knees (my first and only time).

Why is HTMC important to you?  What is your extent of involvement with HTMC over the years?

Y: HTMC is a great community that connects people who love the outdoors and provides more access to hikes and educational opportunities at its events.  HTMC is all volunteer with very giving and caring members who are also very knowledgeable so that I am always learning new things from them about hiking, plants, history, etc.  I was a Membership Officer for 5 years and the Secretary for the Luciano Peña Memorial Clubhouse Board for one year.

D: The members are so nice that many of them have become great friends.  I have served as a Membership Officer for 5.5 years and currently serve as the Treasurer for the Luciano Peña Memorial Clubhouse and currently serve as a member of both the Web and Events committees.  I also go trail clearing 15-20 times a year.

Where have you hiked outside of Hawaiʻi?  Do you have a favorite country or area to hike in?  Or can you share a memorable experience hiking overseas?

Y: I liked hiking in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy and the Tour du Mont Blanc at the corner of Switzerland, France, and Italy, and the North Island of New Zealand with the Auckland Tramping Club.  One time on the Alta Via #2, David and I got caught in a hailstorm with thunder & lightning going through a mountain pass.  On the way down the pass, a big boulder almost hit David and we had to cross a raging stream by jumping across snow banks that looked like they might collapse at any moment.  We were so happy to arrive at the refugio somewhat late, but safe.  On the New Zealand safari, we visited a waterfall where the water shot out of a hole in the side of a cliff.  It was amazing!

D: I have hiked in several national parks: Yosemite, Zion, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Glacier, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Banff in Canada, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Tour du Mont Blanc at the corner of Switzerland, France and Italy, the Alta Via #2 in the Dolomite mountains of Italy, and the North Island of New Zealand.  I used to go every other year and more recently annually to southern Utah to go canyoneering (where you rappel into slot canyons).

Do you have any concerns about the future of hiking in Hawaiʻi? 

Y: I am concerned about the loss of access to hikes for the public.  Social media has made many tourists underestimate the risks and dangers of many hikes.  Since they are underprepared, they more frequently require rescue.  We need more educational outreach to make people understand the risks better.

D: I am very concerned about loss of access to hikes.  Two of my favorite hikes from before I joined HTMC, Sacred Falls and Mariner’s Ridge are now inaccessible.  Likewise one of my son’s favorite hikes, Stairway to Heaven is also prohibited.  I think the State should exempt land owners from liability for hikers getting hurt on their property just as they do for swimmers at the beaches.  This might make land owners more amenable to allowing hikers onto their property.


Yucong Fan was born and raised in Zhenjiang, located in the Jiangsu Province of southern China; and immigrated to Hawaiʻi in 2009. Nikki is fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese.  For the last eight years, she has worked as a licensed insurance broker specializing in Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans and Medicare Supplement plans.  She is also licensed to offer life insurance and long-term care plans.  She enjoys helping seniors and often volunteers her time at senior centers on a regular basis.  Caring and giving back to the community are important to her, and she takes pride in providing excellent customer service.


David was born in Hong Kong, but came to America when he was just one year old.  His great grandfather on his father’s side was the first ancestor to come to the US and became a citizen by claiming his birth records were destroyed in the Great San Francisco fire of 1906.  Neither his great grandfather nor his grandfather could bring their wives to the US due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, but their children could become US citizens as offspring of a citizen.  So, David can be considered either a 4th generation or 1st generation immigrant depending on your viewpoint.  He grew up in Boston and gradually moved westward.  First to California for grad school, then to Hawaiʻi for his first job as an Assistant Professor of Information & Computer Sciences at UHM.  Honolulu was the perfect location to indulge his hobbies (at that time) of scuba diving and wind surfing.  David retired in 2020 after 33 years at UH and is now Professor Emeritus.