OHE April 27, 1999 (Papali-Waiahilahila)

Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 09:54:38 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@mailhost.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Papali-Waiahilahila-Punaiki Ridge

Joined HTMC hike coordinator Steve Poor for an exploratory jaunt of his upcoming Pu'u Kamapua'a event this past Sunday, April 25 (actually, its an HTMC event but Steve will be the coordinator). OHE-L's Brandon Stone has written extensively of this area so I'll summarize to avoid repetition.

Steve and I met at Punalu'u Beach Park at 8 a.m. (I was hoping to leave a car in Punalu'u Valley so that we would come down the Castle Trail). Steve had other ideas and after final preps I followed Mr. Poor to the Sacred Falls parking lot where we left his vehicle anticipating the possibility of coming out the Nipple Trail (aka Waiahilahila and the Pu'u Kamapua'a Trail). >From Sacred Falls we carpooled to the windward Oahu village of Hau'ula and parked near the intersection of Hau'ula Homestead Road and Kamehameha Hwy.

Blessed with perfect hiking conditions (mostly sunny skies, high overcast, breezy trade winds), Steve and I continued on foot heading mauka on Hau'ula Homestead. As Hau'ula Homestead bends left we went straight onto Ma'akua Road.

Eventually, we reached the Papali-Ma'akua Ridge trailhead marked by a brown metal DLNR sign. The two of us veered left and down onto the trail then crossed the Ma'akua Streambed (dry). Gained elevation via twelve switchbacks, contoured for a distance along the side of the the ridge until the footpath took us to the ridge crest. Climbed gradually on the wide trail through an arch of trees. At a junction where the Papali-Ma'akua Ridge Trail begins to descend toward Papali Gulch along the left side of the ridge, Steve and I proceeded straight along the crest onto a less distinct trail marked occasionally with pink ribbon. It wasn't long until uluhe became a factor, so I paused to put on my gators.

We resumed hiking but Steve, an avid armchair botonist, stopped on several occasions to bring to my attention various native flora and to collect samples. A few of the plants/trees we looked at were pukiawe with its dark red fruit roughly .25 inch in diameter, naupaka, Hawaiian mistletoes, sandalwood, and moa (one of Steve's favorite). Steve also snacked on ohi'a ha fruit whenever he found some big enough to eat.

The two of us endured mild rollercoaster action then descended steeply to a saddle. What goes down must come up and climb we did out of the saddle and onward to the junction with Waiahilahila as the Papali Ridge veers left (east). Before arriving at the intersection at 10:30 a.m., I pointed out to Steve three of the steep upper Ma'akua Gulch waterfalls and, in the distance, a windward section of the Ko'olau Summit Trail cut into the sheer pali high above Kaipapa'u Gulch. We also enjoyed nice views of the Laie Coast along the way.

A discussion ensued as to whether we should continue mauka to the Castle Trail. I desired to explore upper Kaluanui but it was Steve's gig so we tramped makai. In my mind, I began making plans for a second hike that day because I thought we would be out by 2 p.m. Although slightly overgrown with uluhe, the Waiahilahila Ridge Trail is well defined marked periodically with pink ribbon.

At the top of the last hump prior to Pu'u Waiahilahila (the peak with the nipple rock formation on it) Steve and I sat down to eat lunch. At 11:45 a.m. we departed Waiahilahila from the lunch spot and plowed/cut through head high uluhe on a side ridge (Punaiki Ridge for lack of a better name). "Didn't I get enough of this last week?" I thought to myself as I assumed the ram-rod position. We could see a spectacular dike on Punaiki a reasonable distance oceanward and made it our goal. Steve gave me a break when I couldn't take the carnage anymore (right knee bleeding from a superficial wound among other things).

Eventually, the vegetation thinned and Steve led us to an eroded area. I took the front position and approached the dike as Steve tied ribbon to flora every so often to identify the new trail. Negotiated two notches without much trouble then spotted a ten foot grey cable hanging down the Papali side of the dike and used it to get on top. As I traversed the dike (similar feel to that of Kalena) Steve contoured along the Papali side pounding through small trees and other foliage. I dropped down to help him make the trail concluding that most of the hikers would not use the cable if the ridge became part of the new route.

Steve and I were reunited and together we continued makai but a short distance later the ledge became too narrow and the slope too steep in the midst of Christmas berry trees. Steve proposed that we bushwack down to the floor of Punaiki Gulch since we didn't know where the ridge would come out. Not a glutton for punishment and having reached the limit of my plowing tolerance for one day, I countered that we should take the high road. Steve agreed and followed me to the crest of the dike.

From there we had no more problems and eventually descended steeply with the aid of a three hundred foot thick white rope to the foot of the ridge. Almost immediately we entered a compound called "Lani ?" where two barking dogs greeted us (sarcasm). The hounds turned out to be all bark and no bite but we retreated upslope anyway to look for a less conspicuous escape route to Kamehameha Hwy.

Circled up and around the compound toward Sacred Falls and emerged on a dirt road. Followed the road through a farm (I recognized taro, papaya, corn, and bananas growing in the fields). Fortunately, we did not encounter any workers or any more dogs. As Steve and I neared Kamehameha Hwy (we could see cars passing by and hear the sound of traffic) we recognized a house and decided to climb a four foot fence to avoid being noticed by any of the occupants. This decision payed off because a short distance later we reached the Sacred Falls dirt road.

At 2:43 p.m. Mr. Poor and I approached Steve's 1983 grey mazda and took off soon after.

Notes: During a conversation with HTMC legend John Hall, I remember him mentioning that a church in the Hau'ula area recently contacted the club to have us develope a trail behind its property. John said that the ridge contained a dike. I think its fair to say that the compound Steve and I stumbled upon belongs to the church John refered to ("Lani" means heaven or heavenly right?!).

If the cable section can be made safer, I believe the work Steve and I did on Sunday won't be in vain. We may have reopened an old route to the upper Sacred Falls wilderness. Steve informed me that Wing Ng once crossed the dike long ago. If Wing can do it, anyone can (taunt)!!! :-)

== Paka

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