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On Sunday 4/27 I tried to go up the Waimalu middle ridge and failed. But I made a nice loop that showcases the fine efforts of the HTMC and Bob Silva.
The Waimalu Ditch trail, recently cleared by HTMC, was in fine shape, with lots of little waterfalls (which should have been a hint of trouble to come). At the first crossing of Big Waimalu Creek, by the big round rock, I had to go upstream and hang by Hau tree branches and hop boulders but I eventually got across. The second crossing, by the swimming hole and big mango tree camp area, was also flooded. I got across with only one flop off a slick rock. The third crossing I waded across, thigh-deep, with a big stick probing ahead of me for deep holes. At the fourth crossing, I began to consider building a raft. I considered my options.
From hiking the trail during drier times, I knew that the next section involved hiking up the dry creek bed for a few hundred yards. The only problem was, that's right, there was NO dry creek bed. On the banks were hau thickets. So I went back a little ways to see if there was a high road. Just after the third crossing, on the Waiau side, a trail went up alongside a small creek and then headed up a ridge. It was a pretty good little trail, with evidence of recent machete clearing (HTMC or hunters?), so I continued up, hoping that it might link up with the Middle Ridge trail. After a few hundred yards, the trail dwindled, and I uluhe-stomped up to a vantage point of the Waimalu valley on the right and the elusive Middle Ridge half-a-mile farther up the valley on my left.
I knew that the Waiau trail would be up at the top of the ridge, so I followed pig trails on up. It's not too bad, as far as ridge-scrambling goes, and after about an hour I was at the top. There's one rocky area 2/3 up, that is easily bypassed to the left (makai) side. At the top there's a great view of the Leeward back country; Pacific Palisades and the Manana ridge trail look surprisingly close. On the topo map the elevation is 1644 ft.
Now, here's the tricky part. If you head makai, which seems reasonable since you're at the top of the ridge, you will get lost, because that route is a side ridge which gradually heads back down into flood land. I made this disheartening discovery after about half an hour of slogging through uluhe, thinking "Is this the trail?" I could see the next ridge over, Manana direction, looked more promising, so I hiked back up to where I first came up from the valley, went a little more mauka, and picked up the real, true, beautiful Waiau trail. Tip: look for the power lines in the makai distance. You want to be on the ridge where the tower is. If you are on the ridge with a single, scrawny royal palm, you are going the wrong way, as the freeway on ramp signs say.
Needless to say, I was very happy to be on the Waiau trail, which is in absolutely beautiful condition. Near the power line tower, it looks like the Maunawili trail, but going up and down the ridge top, rather than contouring the hillside. Thanks to everyone who cleared it. After I got back home, I read about the infamous Waiau Dip, and was happy to have avoided it. I would guess that the point where the side ridge hits the Waiau trail is just makai of The Dip. What do you think? Thanks, Dayle, to you and Wing Ng for your informative trail descriptions in this area.