Biting Off More Than One Can Chew

Sometimes the eyes deceive, as when one sees food and believes they could eat it, all of it. So too, when one sees a task and believes they can do it, with the simplest hand tools, in a day, by themselves. Such was the case when I volunteered to mow along a disused and neglected portion of one the my favorite trails, Kuilau Trail from Keahua Arboretum to the bridge where it joins Moalepe Trail.

Rather than use a gas-powered weed eater offered by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife (I cannot be the only person who detests that noise), I opted for a scythe, only to discover that no one seems to know what a scythe is anymore. What I ended up with was a nifty pruning hook and a grass hook.

Pruning Hook

The pruning hook only has a two-foot handle, but that is at least better than squatting  down with a sickle. Although the grass hook has a three-foot handle, it dulls quickly and easily, and is difficult to sharpen by hand.

grass hook
Grass Hook

Nevertheless, I set out to try them on the Sleeping Giant (Kuamo’o Trail). While the pruning hook performed well when removing overhanging branches and low-lying brush and pithy weeds, the grass hook was cumbersome and dulled quickly—especially when striking upturned rocks and snagging in the ubiquitous Albizia roots that are the foundation of the pathway. Consequently, I finished mowing the last few yards of that 200-yard stretch using only the pruning hook.

My next challenge would be mowing the last three fourths of a mile on the Kuilau Trail, so after returning home, I sharpened my tools as well as possible with a 2-1/2 inch whetstone, and put them away.

Over one month later, I packed a lunch, an extra liter of water, my tools, mosquito repellent, and finally got around to the task that I initially volunteered to do. Hiking in the first mile and a quarter there were no surprises such as fallen trees or landslides, and just beyond the picnic shelter area, I started capturing the “BEFORE” shots of places to be mowed. Arriving at trail’s end, I recorded a short video of the Little Falls before beginning to mow my way back to the trailhead.

Starting from the bridge, I cleaned up the first 100 yards and used up all of the ‘sharp’ that that grass hook had. In the process I also disturbed a big Black Witch Moth that fluttered around wildly, then returned to hide and slumber, upside down, in the upper thicket alongside an Albizia tree.

Black Witch Moth 'hiding' alongside an Albizia tree.
Black Witch Moth
Last quarter mile from trail's end - AFTER mowing










Feeling as though I’d accomplished something, I set out to clean up the 50-yard stretch back to the 1.75 Mile marker. Below is an older photo of the view toward trail’s end from the marker, followed by the “BEFORE” and “AFTER” shots, looking back from trail’s end to the marker.

From 1.75 Mile Marker, about a month ago...
From 1.75 Mile Marker, about a month ago…
...and a week ago, BEFORE mowing.
…and a week ago, BEFORE mowing.
AFTER mowing
AFTER mowing










Although it looks quite a mess afterward, the first rainfall should clean it up quite nicely and leave the thatch to hold the thicket at bay for a while. At this point, I’d been mowing for nearly five hours, which made it obvious that I would not finish mowing my way back to the trailhead that day.

Here are two more BEFORE shots, and much work lies between them and the 1.75 Mile marker.

Labor of Love #1
Lucky to live Hawaii #1
Labor of Love #2
Lucky to Live Hawaii #2










With just over one half mile to go, I’ll need a few more weeks to chew the remainder of this bite.

5 thoughts on “Biting Off More Than One Can Chew

    1. Sure they do. They gave me the tools to enable me to do more work. Who could ask for anything more?


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