By MALUM NALU
American writer and adventurer James Campbell says the gruelling Ghost Mountain (Kapa Kapa) Trail between Central and Northern holds much potential to become the next “Kokoda Trail” of Papua New Guinea.
Campbell is author of ‘Ghost Mountain Boys’, which tells the story of this little-known WWII trail, which was used by US troops.
He and his 15-year-old daughter, Rachael, were among a small group of US and Australian trekkers that completed the 200km over 17 days last month.
“We all have hope that the Kapa Kapa Trail can develop the rural economy of the villages in Central and Northern provinces,” Campbell tells me.
“I think it has the potential to be something.
“Frankly, I hope it never becomes another Kokoda.
“Kokoda is a little too-trafficked and I don’t think that this trail could take thousands of people a year.
“It’s just too steep, I’d think there’d be injuries; I think you’d have to be very qualified to hike this trail.
“Also, because of the way the trail works, I’d think there would be a lot of erosion and a lot of environmental damage
“But I do think that we can reach a middle ground where trekkers from all across the world, but especially for the US because it has historical significance for the US, and bring them here.
“If not to do the trek for the full 17-20 days, maybe to do parts of the trek, maybe to go from Gabagaba to Laronu or from Laronu to Jaure.
“But in order for that to happen, the airfields along the way in Laronu, Jaure, Segora and Dorobisoro would have to be functional.
“The villagers keep the airstrips cut with the hope that one day they will see air traffic again in order to get their goods to market, in order to get very sick people out to clinics and hospitals.
“The only way to divide this trail into doable segments, for more people, would be to bring in air services.
“But I do think that there are trekkers from all across the world, who would want to do the trail in its entirety.”
Campbell says the trail will not only attract trekkers but also birdwatchers, butterfly, orchid and rainforest lovers.
“The whole trail has so much to offer,” he adds.
“I think it’s our responsibility, as US citizens with an interest in history, and also Papua New Guineans to cooperate and collaborate to make this trail into what it should be.
“Something similar to Kokoda Trail.
“Something that has historical significance, but enormous historical significance for Papua New Guineans too.
“Papua New Guineans had a huge role in the war effort here.
“Without the Papua New Guineans as carriers, scouts and litter-bearers, the Americans would never have made it over those mountains.
“Once they got to Buna to the battlefields, Papua New Guineans served as scouts, litter-bearers, stretcher-bearers.
“The US owes an enormous debt to the people of Papua New Guinea for their contribution towards the war effort.”
By MALUM NALU