Ken Kupchak


Bear with me a moment. In my Lorin like fanny pack, I brought with me today my trusty Sierra Cup and a bit of what I learned from Lorin, my single malt. Pardon me while I savor it. I thought that he would appreciate me toasting him in the style to which he had become accustom.

Lorin, I know that you are just around that corner. I am just lightening my load so that I can keep up with you and join you to continue our hike together.

There may not be a Hawaii hiker alive between the ages of Six(6) and Ninety-Six(96) that has not heard the “Word of Gill”--- Today you have already been treated to many of Lorin’s progeny.

As a result of Lorin T. Gill’s brief passage on this earth, we have all learned to appreciate, first hand, the uniqueness of Hawaii’s natural environment. 

Lorin was not placed on this earth to work behind a desk or even in an office. He was a hands on, experiential and an in the mist and mud leader. He led from the front. And what a distinctive front it was. Picture it now in your minds eye…

There is probably not be a single one of you that has not seen and does not vividly recall Lorin in what , over the years, I have come to call his “Class “A” uniform.

That’s right, from head to toe, everwhere, in practically every kind of weather; there was Lorin in his floppy hat, his light green or blue T-shirt, his light colored shorts and, except on A’a, the true badge of his office, his Asahi Tabi!  

Wait, there is more… around his waist, on day hikes,  was the ever present fanny pack, in which was always a thin rain jacket, a bottle of water and a bento from his favorite Kalihi okazu.

On over nights, there was also the ever present canister of scotch, preferably single malt, and , after his hands on inspection of what must have been every distillery in Scotland, preferably Talisker.

Pardon me , but Lorin is whispering in my ear that I must drink this single malt before it evaporates.

We have each been there, there being practically anywhere in a  Hawaiian Native forest, whether it be the trail up Mapulehu, on Molokai, on the way, over land, to Wailau, or just along the short trail to Peacock Flats; where, for instance, Lorin would stop. Over the years, most you  probably came to realize that each stop was triggered by his infallible sixth sense. He just knew that some in the group, which he always kept together, was in need of a breather. As a cover for their need, Lorin would use the opportunity for a teaching moment.

For instance, on the way to Peacock Flats, upon gathering the group, he would lift his arm and extend it in the desired direction, all fingers extended and authoritatively pronounce: “Around this corner is the largest Ohia tree on the Island of Oahu.” And you just knew that he was absolutely correct.

On blind faith, you knew that he HAD seen EVERY Ohia tree on the Island of Oahu and this was , indeed, the real thing, the BIGGEST OHIA TREE on the Island of Oahu. I know I never doubted it. I also suspect that many of you are now recalling this very same tree…. and you knew it too, although each of us had a few more ohia trees to see before we slept.

Over the years, I also suspect, many of you, on leading a hike on this same trail, would listen for the huffs and puffs as we approached that curve in the trail. We had each had come to realize, that yes, more than a few needed a chance to catch their breath. Gathering the group, we would then raise our arm, extend it toward the point of interest, fingers extended, in the “Gill” manner, and  proceed to tell the very same story, verbatim, even though we still had yet to see every Ohia tree on the Island of Oahu. This scene continues to be flawlessly imitated, the sincerest form of flattery, time and time again on practically every trail and classroom in the State.

Speaking of Miles to go before one sleeps, especially if you are following in Lorin’s footsteps, perhaps you too will be reminded, when thinking of Lorin’s embarkation on this, his last hike, of Walt Whitman’s lament, in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? I urge you to google; Oh Captain , My Captain. Read it silently to yourself. And while you read it let you mind retrace those times of yore and, hopefully, tomorrow, as you follow in the footsteps of Lorin T. Gill.

Wait up , Lorin, I am still admiring that Ohia tree and savoring the single malt—until we meet again.

(presentation given at the Lorin Gill Celebration of Life, Palama Settlement, Honolulu, Hi Nov 20, 2010)