Drought Conditions Make Trails Dangerous

Battalion Chief James Arcierto
Battalion Chief James Arcierto
Lynda Nagai
Lynda Nagai

HAWAII KAI (KHNL)--Hawaii's dry winter weather has dropped the state into an "abnormally dry" classification by the U.S. drought monitor.

Oahu's most popular hiking trails are not getting the rainfall they normally need, which is causing erosion and hikers find the soil crumbling loose beneath their feet. Shifting soil has kept the Honolulu Fire Department busy in recent weeks, responding to mountain rescues of hikers injured in falls. There were two Sunday.

The fire department's helicopter crew attempts to rescues a hiker off the top of the popular Kokohead trial.

The chopper hovers nearby but strong winds are hampering the rescue.

"I checked on the wind it was 20 miles with higher gusts, like cutting through a brick wall of wind, he couldn't land actually," said fire department Battalion Chief James Arcierto.

The gusty winds add to dry conditions. Rainfall is so low many Oahu paths are dusty trails with crumbling soil.

Experienced hikers may not realize the danger that's underfoot.

Fire fighters have rescued several injured hikers recently.

The victims suffered head and ankle injuries in these incidents.

"All mountains are eroding so naturally you are going to be travelling over surfaces, slippery, sliding especially with drier conditions actually more so," said Arcierto.

They have to hoist the victim down in a rescue basket. She is gently lowered to rescuers on a ball field.

They load her in an ambulance to have her checked out in the hospital.

Some who just finished the hike comment on dry conditions.

"It's a little dry little slippery in certain points," said hiker Lynda Nagai.

One child in her group even fell.

"I guess at the top when he was coming down a little steep he tried to run his foot gave way he took a spill."

With the current dry conditions the best advice is to wear shoes that have a good tread to grip the terrain even if you start to slide.