Careful Where You Dig.
Setting up an archAeology camp in a live-fire weapons range.
Pohakuloa Training Area, HI
Field Camp Construction
Utility System Designs
Usually when we’re asked to plan an expedition, we get 18 months to figure out all the permitting and logistical challenges. We even have a 50-point risk-mitigation checklist. There’s no room for mistakes. No margin for error. Not for the places we go.
But every once in a while, that all goes out the window. The archaeological survey on the Big Island of Hawaii is a perfect example. It threw us all kinds of curves. Starting with the timetable.
But there was a good reason for that. The scientists wanted to study a centuries-old Native Hawaiian camp located in the upland saddle region between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, right in the middle of the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area.
The largest Department of Defense installation in Hawaii, Pohakuloa provides live-fire training for units from every branch of the U.S. military. There are small arms, machine guns, artillery and mortars blasting away every month of the year—except December.
That was our window of opportunity. And it was only two months away. Here’s where all the experience and relationships we’ve developed over the years really paid off.
We knew who to call for the permits. And on an active military base, there are a lot of permits. We knew where to get all the gear, the tents and the food that 12 people were going to need for a month.
And we knew how to get it there. First, with container ships to the Big Island. Then, with helicopters to the site itself. Trucks were out of the question because the route was blocked by an old lava field that was like knives sticking out of the ground.
But that lava field, and all the tubes and caves it created, was a treasure trove of Native Hawaiian artifacts.
Like how to identify and avoid unexploded ordnance. The army was very insistent upon that, and we were not about to argue the point.