Cathy Lowder

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November 6, 2010

Favorite memories with Lorin Gill

As with others who have shared their experiences via this tribute site, I too owe much of who I am and where I am to Lorin Gill.  It started with a hike into Haleakalā in 1971.  While I hiked on the mainland and Oahu, nothing prepared me for what we would experience walking down sliding sands, and several days later down Kaupō gap.  Sitting near the streams of Kīpahulu the Mongooses were formed.  We traveled the state exploring all the unique places from Kaua’i, Moloka’i, Lāna’i, Maui, to the south point of Hawai’i.  They were absolutely wonderful adventures! Ahhhh…. but as you know well, these were not adventures… each was a learning experience as Lorin shared the natural and cultural history, geology, flora and fauna that made each place unique and special, yet connected to everything else.  I was hooked, indoctrinated, and while I was still learning, I also shared this knowledge and appreciation with others as a Sierra Club outing leader.   

The Kohala Mountains were a special place for Lorin and he was usually welcomed by a Pulelehua Kamehameha butterfly landing on his shoulder along the trail in Pololū.  The mongooses first ventured along the Kohala ditch trail into Honokāne Nui in January of 1972.  However, it was the January 1974 trip that is best known for Lorin’s crossing the flooded stream.   Everyone had crossed except Nelson Ho who, in the pictures, can be seen standing on the structured where the wooden box was attached to the wire cable, securely pad–locked.  Lorin used his knowledge of plants to locate a guava branch thick enough to handle being pulled across the cable.  Sitting on a seat of guava branches tied together, hand over hand pulling himself along the cable, with the raging river below, Lorin crossed to the other side, slowly but successfully.  Thinking back on what I remember now, I’m struck by how confident Lorin was of his knowledge and ability to use this knowledge. I don’t remember any hesitation. At the urging of Nelson, I found some pictures to go along with this tribute. [For more details of this trip, read Nelson Ho’s tribute.] This event didn’t stop Lorin from hiking the ditch trails again, as folks on the Sierra Club’s September 1979 trip will recall.

Another trip known for the many unexpected events was the Sierra Club’s 1975 Thanksgiving Mauna Kea trip.  Lorin pointed out the cross-country route on the topo map, as he wasn’t hiking but driving the vehicle around for our pickup.  We started out under sunny skies to go from the area above Pu’u Lā’au around at the 12,000’ to the Mauna Kea summit road.  Then the clouds socked in and we relied on map and compass ….however we didn’t calculate for the 11 declination, so were off our target.  This trip was also marked by the large earthquake that shook the island, and caused Halapē and the Kalapana coast to drop 15 feet. 

While the spirit of Kamehameha still roams the lands of ‘Āwini, I know that Lorin’s sprit now roams the special places of Hawai’i and the world that he explored, enjoyed and loved.  Lorin accomplished more in one lifetime than it would take others ten lifetimes.  He was a special person who will continue to correct my pronunciation of Hawaiian words.  A true environmentalist and life-long educator, he will be missed by all he touched and continue to touch many yet to come who will experience Hawai’i as a result of his legacy.   

Mahalo nui loa and aloha.      Cathy Lowder