Tribute to Lorin Gill by Lynn Carey 11/20/2010
As a child, I first knew Lorin as “Long-In.” That is what my grandfather called the man who we would run into while hiking “off-limits” trails on Kaua`i. Then many more times on O`ahu, Maui and Big Island hikes on trails I thought only I had discovered. He called me “Rice” for the backpack I made out of a rice bag, and we laughed at our matching tabi. Though I never went on a Lorin-led hike until many years later, when our paths crossed he always added something to my experience and respect for the natural treasures of Hawai`i. Muddy bogs, slippery streams and skinny ridges were our intersecting paths. Then came the nude incident! Well, almost.
In the 70’s during college, I was asked to put together a grant proposal for The Making of a Koa Canoe. This was long before Holukle`a and popular exposure to Hawaiian outrigger canoes. So I was nervous about getting the background information correct. When I learned that Lorin was a reviewer, I shivered. I knew of his reputation for accuracy. The grant passed the first and second review. I was called to defend it in front of a committee of 12 men sitting around what seemed like a 30-foot koa table in a downtown office. Yikes! Country girl in the big city. My first proposal. I had no idea what to expect. The hopes of a Hawaiian Group were on my shoulders. But when I looked way down at the end of the table, and saw Lorin, I thought surely he’d help guide me. He didn’t look up – just scrutinized and shuffled the pages. Finally his eyes looked forward, he took off is glasses to see better, and said loudly, “Oh, Rice, it’s you. I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!”
I turned to jello. I don’t know what happened after that. For years afterwards I would drive past the huge koa log that would have been a canoe if I had kept my wits. But my bonds and hiking experiences with Lorin grew, as did my delight and respect with his knowledge and gifts, as we worked as volunteers and co-workers at Foster Botanical Gardens, the Sierra Club, the founding of Moanalua Gardens and more. The good times, laughs and challenges shared with cadres – at mountain tops, craters edges, heiau, bogs, and remote spots of wonder – will always be precious to me because of our incredible guide “Long-In.”