When Kenny Moore handed in his article on the vanishing birds of the Hawaiian forest, which begins on page 72, shreds of moleskin still clung to his blistered heels. His arms were scratched, his legs bruised. He spoke around a thickened tongue. He said, "You should see Heinz Kluetmeier."
Photographer Kluetmeier accompanied Moore on the week-long trek on the island of Hawaii, "an impossible assignment for him," says Moore. "He'd never backpacked before. He was loaded with 70 pounds of water and gear. And the birds are so hard to photograph that the Fish and Game and Audubon guides use 19th-century paintings to show what they look like."
So how did Kluetmeier do? Well, for one thing, he took what is perhaps the best portrait of the io, or Hawaiian hawk. He also came to figure prominently in Moore's story—and in his milder memories of the trip.
"On our last morning in civilization, he didn't show up for breakfast at the restaurant," Moore says. "While I was savoring my last papaya, he was back in his room, practicing cooking oatmeal over his little camp stove." ("The first time I used it in camp, it blew up in my face," says Kluetmeier.)
September 24, 1978
But Heinz, an engineer by training, has a reputation for energy and resourcefulness. "To say nothing of professionalism," Moore adds. "He'd drag along looking like Gasim emerging from the desert, but if there seemed to be a picture, he'd be 20 feet up the nearest sandalwood." And it was Kluetmeier who, upon occasion, kept Olympic marathoner Moore from coming unglued.
"I'd get claustrophobic and frustrated," Moore says, "but Heinz kept making jokes, calling the place Fernwood, or pretending to interview an old G.I. who had been there for 35 years, living on crickets and tenderloin of fern, without knowing the war was over. I'd start laughing and lose concentration and pitch down a lava flow." Kluetmeier says, "Knowing Kenny runs 100 miles a week, I took my loaded pack and kept walking up and down a 100-step stairway back home. But I knew he'd still be in better shape, so I brushed up on my jokes to keep him weak and amused, so I could sneak out front on the trail."
By the time Kluetmeier and Moore stumbled out of the forest's depths their boots were sodden and falling apart. After his first shower in a week, Moore put the squishy, muddy things back on. Not Kluetmeier. "He went to the Kona airport in shorts and white-stockinged feet," says Moore, "figuring he could buy at least a pair of slippers somewhere. He couldn't, and by the time he got to the runway, it was half an inch deep in rainwater. The stewardess followed a line of watery footprints down the aisle of the plane and looked at him a little strangely, the more so when he took her picture. The last I saw of Heinz in Honolulu was his soaked heels as he sprinted for the San Francisco plane."