OHE April 12, 1999 (Keaau to Ohikilolo)

Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 14:06:21 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@mailhost.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Ohikilolo Pyramid via Keaau Ridge

Its always intriguing when two members of OHE-L meet face to face for the first time. Such was the case this past Saturday, April 10th, when Kirby Young (a native of Portland, Oregon, and a lanky six foot three inch middle aged man with greying brown hair) and I got together for a hike. Kirby, visiting Oahu for a short duration, has been hiking as much as possible during his most recent stay completing the likes of Waianae-Ka'ala, Poamoho-KST-Waikane, and Mariner's Ridge/Tom-Tom/Kaupo Cliffs. We had planned to attempt Piliwale Ridge (aka Windward Konahuanui) but the trade winds picked up gusting at 20 to 35 mph bringing with them low clouds and precipitation to the Ko'olau Range. Whenever the weather turns fowl the Waianaes are usually a good alternative where a nice breeze and rain are a welcome commodity.

Kirby and I met at the new library in Salt Lake near Aliamanu Elementary and Intermediate a few minutes past 9 a.m. From there we carpooled in the Pat-mobile to the leeward coast of Oahu passing thru Nanakuli, Maile, Waianae Town and arriving at the entrance to the First Hawaiian Bank rec center near the guard shack in Ohikilolo Valley (elev. 140 ft).

At 10:27 a.m. following final preparations, the two of us headed into the valley along a dirt/gravel road paralleling the First Hawaiian compound. Kirby, a geologist by profession, brought some of the geological features of the area to my attention. He also videotaped some of the region periodically as we moved toward our goal for the day, the Ohikilolo triangular peak.

Much has been written about this hike on OHE-L so I'll summarize as much as possible to avoid repetition. Essentially, there are three routes to Pu'u Keaau, the gateway to Keaau Ridge, which ultimately leads to Ohikilolo Ridge and the pyramidal peak. One is across from the Makaha Surfing Beach off Farrington Hwy (the longest option), another is by means of the ridge originating near a watertank makai of the Makaha Towers condos and the third (and least difficult) is via the foothills above the First Hawaiian Bank rec center.

After tramping on the road for a short distance and moving beyond the rec center, Kirby and I turned right and departed the thoroughfare then gradually ascended thru many kiawe trees toward a side ridge. Upon gaining the crest of the ridge, we paused to rest and hydrate. Pressing on a few minutes later, the two of us methodically traveled toward Pu'u Keaau climbing steadily over the rocky ridge around or over rock dikes and outcroppings. Kirby fell behind, his progress slowed by too many pancakes consumed during breakfast which collected inside his stomach like lead weights. Also, he had read about Arnold Fujioka's fainting spell subsequent to the hike in January so he purposely paced himself for the long haul stopping on several occasions to videotape. I said to myself "we're not going to make it" but I didn't get angry. Instead, I told myself "we'll go as far as time permits".

Much to my surprise we gained Pu'u Keaau (elev. 2,650 ft) in about one hour forty minutes (only ten minutes behind schedule) at 12:09 p.m. Both of us sat down on the broad peak to recover and take pleasure from the nice views of Ohikilolo Valley, Ohikilolo Ridge and the leeward coast toward and including Kaena Point.

From Pu'u Keaau we enjoyed a relatively level stretch contouring mainly on the Makaha side of the ridge. Up to this point in the trek neither Kirby nor I had seen any goats but that soon changed when we startled a few in front of us along the crest. We encountered several more further ahead including a family of four. The parents scurried downslope toward Makaha Valley but the two babies, unable to comprehend the danger, remained on the ridge line. Kirby and I halted our progress to study the creatures. They were incredibly adorable and resembled bambi of cartoon footage. Not wishing to cause a panic and permanent separation from their parents, Kirby and I carefully approached the infants then passed them on the other side of a rock outcrop.

Leaving the goats behind, we descended to a saddle (elev. 2,231 ft) covered partially with trees. Next, we ascended steeply thru a mixed forest of Christmas berry and koa in route to a heavily eroded pu'u easily spotted from nearby ridges and valleys. By now Kirby's pancake problem was a thing of the past and we made exellent time. From the red/orange crumbly peak the two of us tramped over another weathered (eroded) stretch where the debris of a plane crash lay strewn.

We began contouring on the Makaha side of an unnamed peak (elev. 2,952 ft) thru a Christmas berry forest when the sight of another goat with her kids stopped us dead in our tracks. One of the babies could barely move (a newborn) and both took turns sucking milk from their mother's sacks. Once again, not wanting to cause a disturbance, the two of us detoured well below the goats until past them.

Kirby and I contoured thru the remainder of the Christmas berry forest using ribbons tied periodically to limbs as a guide and emerged on the other side of the unnamed peak back onto the crest grateful to have completed the rather unpleasant section. At yet another weathered area which has the look and feel of the surface of Mars, the two of us sat down for a rest and water break and looked down on upper Ohikilolo Valley and gazed at the sheer fluted cliffs of Ohikilolo Ridge. Afterward we dropped down to another saddle that features a spectacular rock dike, descended briefly downslope toward upper Makaha Valley, contoured below the dike then scrambled steeply up a grassy slope beyond the dike to the intersection with Ohikilolo Ridge.

Came in contact with the fence which runs almost the entire length of Ohikilolo Ridge and protects a mostly native forest from becoming goat food. I recognized some native ferns but also lantana among the flora. Fortunately, the fence ends at the base of the pyramid.

Kirby and I completed the final steep climb to the apex of the triangular peak (elev. 3,052 ft) at 2:34 p.m. where we sat down to eat lunch and marvel at the awesome panorama. From the spectacular vista facing north I identified in a counter clockwise motion the north shore, the Makua Valley middle ridge, lovely Makua Valley, Kaena Point, Ohikilolo Ridge featuring a lone Norfolk Island pine, Ohikilolo Valley, Keaau Ridge, much of the leeward coast, lower Makaha Valley, Kamaileunu Ridge including Pu'u Kawiwi and Noname Peak, massive but socked in Mount Ka'ala, upper Makaha Valley and the Waianae Range from Ka'ala to Kuaokala. Easily one of the finest view spots on Oahu. Kirby devoured two peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches while I dined on half an ear of corn, an apple, a powerbar and washed the cuisine down with a 12 oz. Dr. Pepper. Ahhh! Later, Kirby took out his video camera to record the sights while I chopped several lantana plants that had cropped up on the summit.

Reluctantly, the two of us departed the pinnacle commencing the return leg at 3:31 p.m. Based on Kirby's suggestion we climbed up and over the unnamed peak rather than contouring thru the Christmas berry forest. This saved fifteen minutes and made for an exciting addition to an already terrific, albeit lengthy, hike. While traversing the unnamed peak, Kirby and I were treated to a lovely full rainbow above upper Makaha Valley.

We raced across Keaau Ridge spooking goats (the same ones?) in route to Pu'u Keaau where we stopped for a break at 5:07 p.m. The unobstructed late afternoon sun beautifully illuminated much of the region and the two of us spent almost half an hour taking in the views.

At 5:34 p.m. we began descending the side ridge and about half way down I scored two damaged goat skulls. Boyz will be boyz!!! :-)

The sun set as Kirby and I emerged from the foothills onto the dirt/gravel road. Brought the adventure to an end upon reaching my car at 6:51 p.m.

Notes: Hike the Waianaes. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

== Paka

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