Back to Main Page
Story by Jon Beaujon
The Great Jeep Adventure in Hawaii
Little did we know, but it was going to be another long and interesting day agian. We continued up the coast that day, hoping to get to the town of Waimea. Along the way, we stoped in the town of Captian Cook and had a bite to eat. We continued to Kailua-Kona where we met up with Monica agian. The trip continued north. At one point, the road was covered by lava flow. It was old enough that people had made roads over the flow to connect the small pieces of road that were left. Finally we hit the main flow. There was somewhat of a road that had been cleared on this flow also. We were hoping that we would not be turned around at this point. However, we continued.
We traveled a number of miles on this particular lava field. In the distance, you could see steam rising off the ocean where an active lava continued to flow. The road eventually turned right. It pointed towards a neiborhood up on the side of a hill. The lava road eventually turned into a paved road which led into an abandoned neighborhood. We drove up and down all the roads there hoping to find a way out. The only thing we found was a hermit up there collecting Macadamia Nuts. He was rather rude and kept on threatening us. He claimed that it was his property, but we know he was not supposed to be up there either.
Eventually we went back the hill to see if there were any other roads heading north. I was driving with Mike. At the bottom of the hill, we turned right on one road. Out of the trees steps this really scuzzy looking dude, "oh no trouble!" I looked at Mike and suggested we get the hell out of there, so we turned around. So after looking some more, we found out that we would have to turn around and go back the other way. Everyone was quite dissapointed. We got back to the main road and hauled butt to the other side of the island and picked up Saddle Road.
Saddle Road goes from the Hilo side of the island to the Kona side of the island. About midpoint of Saddle Rd. is Mauna Kea state recreational area. That is where we crashed for the night. We set up our tents there in the park. Believe it or not, it gets cold there. The camp is about six thousand feet above sea level. We had sleeping bags and blankets, but we still got cold that night. Bear, being a cold weather dog, was loving life.
The following morning, we continued to Waimea and had breakfast and warmed up a little. Parker Ranch borders on Waimea. On the map, we were able to find a trail that led from Waimea to the top of Mauna Kea Volcano. We found that the beginning of the trail, a dirt road, started on the Parker Ranch. No problem, all the gates were unlocked. The trail looked pretty simple. It went up and would connect with two other trails that circled the volcano, one being higher elevation that the other.
We encountered a few cattle gates on the way up, but they were not locked. It was quite beautiful. It was more like taking a nice trail ride up the side of a mountain. It was not really steep, and there were a lot of trees. You could not tell that you were on the side of a volcano. The further we got in elevation the thinner the tree line seemed to get. At one point, I could tell we were really high up. A cloud rolled over one of the hills and went by. It sarted getting a little cooler at this point. We eventually hit the lower trai that circled the volcano. That trail eventually ran into the paved road that leads to the top of Mauna Kea. We took the paved road to the upper trail. What a difference. It was now cooler and the vegitation was really thinning.
The trail was now a trail instead of a dirt road. The view was spectacular. We could look down on the clouds now. Eventually we got high enough so that there were only a few bushes scattered about. some of the landscape looked like some the photos that came back from mars. The dirt was red, and there were rocks scattered all about. There was lardge hill that Mike and Dennis took there Jeeps up. Dennis made it up no problem. Mike, who had 2.72:1 gears, had problems. He broke one of his front hubs. This hill was not part of the trail, it just looked fun to climb. We figured that the rest of the trail should not be too hard, plus Mike's Jeep was locked in the rear, so we continued on. Little did we know. A while later, we were going up a hill, and Mike had to get on the throttle a little bit to get up, and he snapped his rear u-joint at the rear diff, and two of the trap bolts were broken off in the yoke. Yeah....Now the adventure really begins .
After a couple of us looked under Mike's Jeep, we decided that we were going to be there for a while. Anyone got a SNICKERS? Well, it was getting dark. We backed mikes jeep down to a level part on the hill. Then, we made camp, because we were not going anywhere that evening. We would take care of that the following day. It was really cold that night. We were between nine and ten thousand feet above sea level. Even the dog got pissed off that night. It snapped at me and a couple others that night. I found out later that Akidas dont like to be cooped up for long periods of time. Well, Bear had been bouncing around in the back of the Jeep all day. I'd be pissed off too. In the morning, we backed Mikes Jeep down the rest of the hill and assesed the rest of the damage.
We were going to need parts. So, we sent Dennis, Cory and Monica down the hill to get parts. Monica had to take care of some more stuff, so we were not going to see her 'til we got back. It was going to be a while 'til they got back. Kalani, Mike and myself set up some tarps for shelter, otherwise the UV light was going to bake us up there. I managed to get one of the bolts out of the yoke. We had a drill, and I worked on the other side for a while hoping to get it fixed before the others got back. All three of us took turns drilling on the yoke. There was not much else to do. We finally go a hole in the yoke, but the screw threads were gone. That was not my original intention.
Dennis and Cory did not get back til late in the evening. It took them awile, because its pitch black and they took a few wrong trails, and blew a front hub too. So, once again, we had to spend the night out there. It turns out that both yokes that Dennis and Cory brought back were the wrong size.Then Cory mentions something that he had seen before.
He had seen or read about some one inserting an allen wrench in one of the strap holes and bending it to hold the strap down. What an idea!!!! We installed the unbroken strap first, then the other one. We put in the one good bolt then we stuck he allen head wrench through the other. Luckily, Mike brought a propane torch along with him. We broke one allen wrench, because they are hardened steel, they break, not bend. We heated up the allen wrench and bent it till it was tight. If it works dont knock it. It got us out of there. We found Dennis' hub on the side of the trail on the way out.
Over all, it was an interesting journey. We saw a lot more of the island than most tourist do, no one got hurt and I even learned a few things. The allen head wrench trick came in really handy. I also found out what happens when you put shackles that are too long on your Jeep. I found that out the hard way. I was driving Mike's Jeep, and I was going about 45 when the steering gets really scary, and I am all over the road. Here comes a semi truck in the opposite direction, and I'm about to pass someone on a bicycle. After that Mike was the only one to drive his Jeep on the road.