Hikers Became Stranded on Hawaii Trail Due To Clouds Getting Too Thick

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Three hikers were stranded on the Konahuanui trail in Nuuanu, Hawaii earlier this week after clouds blocked their visibility and prevented them from descending down the trail. 

The State reports that the Honolulu Fire Department received a call about the hikers shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Thursday (September 29th). Five units with around 16 rescuers responded to the incident. They then set up command while also securing a “landing zone” at the Board of Water Supply reservoir. 

One rescue officially notably airlifted to the hikers’ location. They were then escorted “along the steel Ridgeline” to an extraction point. This was under the thick cloud cover. The hikers were not injured and were airlifted to a nearby landing zone. 

The latest hiking incident comes just days after a hiker was seriously injured after falling near the summit of the Koko Head Crater trail. Hawaii News Now reported that the women fell approximately eight feet near the summit of the trail. Honolulu Fire Department was able to get the hiker to a nearby landing zone. She was treated and transported to a hospital nearby. 

Hawaii Lawmakers Reconsidered Charging Rogue Hikers For Rescues 

In February 2021, It was reported that the Hawaii Senate was reconsidering the idea of allowing county emergency departments to change out-of-bounds hikers for rescue costs. 

Hawaii Public Radio reported at the time that a senate bill would allow counties to issue criminal fines. This would be in addition to seeking reimbursement from hikers who need to be rescued after leaving marked trails. This would also include those who ignored “closed” or “no trespassing areas. 

A revised version of a different Hawaii senate bill would only give counties the option to seek reimbursement from the hikers as opposed to charging them with misdemeanor penalties.

Suzanne Case, Chairwoman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, provided written testimony that supported the original bill that only seeks repayment. She noted that repayment requirements may increase the motivation for hikers to follow posted rules. However, it also would discourage people from seeking help. 

Hawaii Senator Chris Lee had some thoughts about the bill. “It’s an issue that has been brought up in the past in a number of ways,” he explained. “Especially in times when budgets are thin and resources are limited. It’s a discussion that everybody is interested in having this year.”

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Fire Department opposed seeking rescue reimbursement. This is due to the department not wanting to deter anyone from calling 9-1-1. “[The hikers would be] thinking there is going to be a cost associated with them getting him,” spokesmen Carl Otuska said at the time. 

In 2020, the Honolulu Fire Department conducted nearly 2430 land rescues. That number includes 181 classified as “high angle rescues” on steep terrain. Otsuka went on to add, “We do not distinguish between people who go off trails and people who stay on the trails and follow the rules.”