Walking 200 miles in 6 weeks: Avid hiker finishes ‘daunting task’ of mapping Hawaii trails
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tony Barnhill hiked 35 of Hawaii’s popular trails and it wasn’t for sightseeing. He was surveying.
“It was a daunting task because I had so little time to do it,” he said.
The trail runner and map maker covered the trails in six weeks, collecting data for the state’s Na Ala Hele Universal Trail Access Project, and he had to cover every step.
“The trails on Tantalus and other trails have many intersections along the way,” he said.
The data he collected will help the state create detailed information signs that will be installed at the start of the trails, so hikers know what to expect.
“There have been several rescues at the top of Pauoa Flats because people were unprepared for where they ended up,” Barnhill said.
His contract covered 21 trails on Oahu, 11 on Kauai and three on Maui.
With a GPS strapped to his shoulder, he pushed and pulled an aluminum buggy that was made for golf bags. He retrofitted it to carry a GoPro camera and measuring equipment.
“You needed to have the width. You needed to have the cross slope, that’s the left and right slope of the trail from beginning to end,” he said.
To ensure accuracy, he couldn’t skip sections, no matter how difficult. So he climbed over boulders, waded through streams and tiptoed across narrow ridges. His measuring rig could never leave the ground.
“There were certain requirements for the signage,” he said. “These are the numbers we needed to end up with.”
Barnhill got interested in mapping trails when he hiked the 17 trails on Tantalus.
“I eventually started putting together a map after I visited Japan, a subway style map,” he said.
Barnhill’s happy his hard work will make it easier for hikers to stay on the right path and out of trouble.
“Most trails, you’re walking it out and you’re walking it back,” he said.
He estimates he hiked nearly 200 miles for the mapping project, sometimes covering a trail more than once. He finished the project in January.
“It was a huge relief,” he said.
The data will also serve as a record of the conditions of those 35 trails. Now when you see those hiking signs, you know who put in the leg work.
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