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Hiking club does Ka'a'awa Valley movie tour

Special to Kalamalama by Blade Shepard-Jones and Chris Evans


Imagine hiding behind a log in Jurassic Park as a herd of Gallimimus dinosaurs run toward you and leap over your head. Or imagine standing in one of Godzilla’s massive footprints, or trying to flag down Lucy, your girl friend, with a cute little penguin during one of the 50 First Dates. These movies, and more, were not filmed in far-off lands but just 30 minutes away from HPU’s windward Hawai‘i Loa campus at Kualoa Ranch in Ka‘a‘awa Valley.


In addition to the three named, Hollywood has filmed many movies in beautiful Ka‘a‘awa Valley. Some other titles include: The Rundown, Pearl Harbor, George of the Jungle, Windtalkers, Mighty Joe Young, Tears of the Sun, to name just a few. And the valley’s hit TV credits include shows such as Lost. Hiking Aloha Aina, the hiking club at HPU, hosted a two-hour guided tour of the valley on Thanksgiving weekend for more than 30 HPU students and faculty.

The tour started with a herd of cattle that had to be shooed away from the valley’s first point of interest, a World War II artillery bunker high above Kamehameha Highway overlooking the waters off Kualoa point. The cannons are long gone but the bunker’s large concrete tunnels are now a movie museum of films and TV shows shot at Kualoa Ranch. According to the tour guide, the military tunnels used to go all the way through the Ko‘olau Mountains and connect to other bunkers and tunnels in the mountains above Pearl Harbor. The holes can still be seen where dynamite was set into the side of the mountain and ready to be exploded, in case the enemy got past these coastal defenses.

The exhibits include a large-scale model of the valley as well as historical pictures of early days at Kualoa Ranch, including aerial photos of an airfield that ran right along Kamehameha Highway during World War II. Unfortunately the original pictures of Elvis Presley taken while filming on O‘ahu were stolen, but the rest of the pictures and memorabilia provide an interesting and little known history of film making at the ranch.

After visiting the museum, the club hiked along the slope into the valley itself. Even though the trails were muddy in places, the weather was nice and the views of this wide-open undeveloped space were breathtaking. The trek was long enough to give seasoned hikers a good workout, yet not so long as to exhaust less-experienced hikers. The tour identified many of the movie sites as well as interesting geological features and plants that were significant to the pre-European Hawaiians.

The tour climaxed in a small recreation of an ancient Hawaiian village representative of those created by Hawaiians who once lived in the valley.

Back in Kane‘ohe, hikers enjoyed Papa John’s pizza, provided by the club, and discussed possible future hikes. For information on upcoming events and spring hikes, visit the Hiking Aloha Aina Club at Club Carnival Feb. 4, or visit the Web site: Everyone is welcome.



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