Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nu’uanu Pali Lookout

The Nu’uanu Pali Lookout overlooks the 985 foot cliffs of the Ko’olau Mountain Range. The views are incredible, and the wind can be pretty strong.

The Nu’uanu Pali was the setting for one of the most significant battles in Hawaiian history. In 1795, Kamehameha I and his army invaded Oahu, arriving in a fleet of war canoes at Waikiki Beach. The Oahu warriors were led by Kalanikupule, the chief of Maui and Oahu.

Kamehameha’s army marched to Nu’uanu Valley to face Kalanikupule’s troops. The battle was fierce and bloody. Gradually, Kamehameha’s men gained an advantage, forcing Kalanikupule’s forces to retreat further up the valley. The Oahuans attempted to make a final stand, but Kamehameha’s army was too strong. Thousands of Kalanikupule’s men were pursued and driven over the steep cliffs to their deaths. It’s said that the victory was so complete that not a single Oahu warrior that got into the upper part of the valley escaped alive.

An engineering firm was hired in 1897 to build what is now the Old Pali Road, a winding road used to carry traffic across the mountains. During construction, workers found an estimated 800 human skulls and other human bones at the foot of the cliffs - the century-old remains of Kalanikupule’s slain warriors.

Today, parts of the Old Pali Road is still available to foot traffic. We walked down from the lookout, and every time we turned a corner, it looked like the road ended. But then we’d see that it was really just another corner, with the vegetation covering a large part of the road. We didn’t explore very far, but I did see a couple of people who look like they use the old road as part of their regular exercise.

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