OHE April 3, 1999 (Tour de Nuuanu)

Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 23:15:02 -1000 (HST)
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Tour de Nuuanu

More than a year ago, Pete Caldwell gave me a photocopy of an article titled "Lost on Lanihuli," which appeared in Mid-Pacific magazine in 1915. The article detailed the exploits of a daring group of hikers, who, among other things, ascended Lanihuli via a place referred to as Hillebrand Glen, "climbing and crawling up and around Seven Falls, over a route never before essayed."

For those interested, the entire article is on the web at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/ohe/March98/3-5.html

Evidence indicates that Hillebrand Glen is a small valley in upper Nuuanu. On the floor of this valley is Mo`ole Stream. A local hiking show on cable TV has referred to the route to Mo`ole Stream as the "Indiana Jones Trail," mainly because one access venue to the valley is a 100-meter ditch tunnel that resembles a portal from the IJ movie. This valley is unnamed on topo maps, but, with no disrespect to Professor Hillebrand, a well-known scientist of the early 1900s, we now refer to this valley and the ridge on its east side as Mo`ole, and subsequent references in this piece will be as such.

A week ago, members of the HTMC trail clearing crew entered Mo`ole Valley. finding a route up and over the ridge instead of gaining access via the long, dark tunnel. Prior, I should add, we followed a trail that started off Pali Highway, wound its way through a forest of hau and introduced vegetation, and continued along the bank of a ditch that at one time fed the large reservoir in upper Nuuanu. In the stretch leading to the tunnel entrance, large fan palms and banyans line the trail, creating a Garden-of-Eden-like setting.

In Mo`ole Valley, a concrete intake dam directs water from the stream into the long tunnel. There are also large banyans on the slopes, and the whole setting conjures a feeling that one is in some faroff wonderland instead of a small glen not far from the zooming traffic of Pali Highway.

Upstream from the intake dam is a waterfall and a bit further mauka, a much bigger one. At the latter, upstream progress is blocked by steep surrounding walls. On a prior exploration, Brandon Stone found a way to bypass the second big falls, and he described the route to me. Possessing the info from Brandon, about a month ago, Pat Rorie, Laredo Murray, Wing Ng, and I went into Mo`ole to explore, and the bypass route was found.

The bypass trail has been cleared and well-marked by Brandon and friend, and after passing above the second falls, the path they marked and cleared dropped back down to the stream. For the most part, the trail continues along the bank of the stream with encounters with a series of waterfalls to follow. There are routes past all the falls, including one where a long yellow rope is available for ascent assistance.

At the base of the seventh falls (eighth if a smaller one is counted), there is a pile of stones someone stacked to assist a short climb past a tiny cascade. Beyond the small cascade is a larger one that proved tricky to get past. Last Sunday, we found a bypass further downstream on the right (as one looks upstream). Credit goes to Jay Feldman (the hero of Bowman), who served as the lead climber and scout for this route. At one point, we tied an orange cable with loops to facilitate the ascent of a steep, handhold-deprived segment.

Once high enough, there is a pig trail contour to follow for maybe 100 meters and then the trail drops back down to the stream. I should add that this contour is not far from the crest of Mo`ole Ridge and further exploration of the ridge may come on a future trek.

Once we dropped down to the stream, we progressed further mauka and then left the valley by climbing to the left up the spur Pat and I opened on our trek a month ago. The spur, by the way, tops out on Alewa Ridge thirty minutes from the summit of Lanihuli. Pat put a double ribbon on an ohia tree at the ridgetop to mark this spot. Just upridge of our top-out point is a broad, grassy pu'u where we hunkered down to eat lunch.

Seventeen of us made it to this pu'u last Sunday, including Pat, Jay, Ralph Valentino, Dusty Klein, Wil Kawano, Naomi Nasu, June Miyasato, Lynn Agena, Kim & Judy Roy, Lynne Masuyama, Carmen Craig, Nathan Yuen, Jason Sunada, Jim Pushaw, Thomas Yoza, and I.

After lunch, fourteen of us continued on to climb to Pu'u Lanihuli, where we partook of rapidly deteriorating viewing conditions of Kaneohe and the windward side. On the way up and on the way down, Wil, Judy, and Nathan commented about the plethora of native flora species along the trail, including a type of native mint.

Instead of descending back into Mo`ole Valley via the way we had come up, we continued makai along Alewa Ridge, negotiating the infamous straddle ridge enroute. To my amazement, Jay, Nathan, and Naomi tempted fate by walking atop the straddle section. Fortunately, fate wasn't in a bad mood that day and all made it across without incident.

When we reached the heavily-ribboned top point of the Kapalama Loop Trail, we veered left down the Nuuanu side of the loop, climbed to Napu'umaia, and then turned left on a side-trail to descend Kekoalele Ridge to its terminal point by the Oahu Country Club in Nuuanu.

We had left most of our cars, save for the morning's shuttle vehicles, at the community park by Queen Emma's Summer Palace, and from Oahu Country Club we crossed Pali Highway to get to the park and our cars.

The last of us reached the cars at 4:45, ending a rugged but spectacular day in the Koolaus.


Reply From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" (802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us>

Dayle, Thanks for the mention of our efforts, but we cannot take credit for creating or clearing the bypass route. Chris Walker told me about it after he and his friends noticed it and all Chris and I did was to mark the route. Any heavy clearing--and we did find newly chopped and sawed hau, guava, etc.--was done by persons unknown before Chris or I got there. Neither Chris nor I know who originally found the route. I think I remember noticing the turnoff from the main trail many times in the past; I believe that I just wrote it off as a pig trail.

I suppose we'll probably never know, but I wonder if this route is the traditional one used by the Ancient Ones in the days of "Lost on Lanihuli." Some people may even have been using the route through the years, unbeknownst to all of us. In places, the path feels well-trodden.

I look forward to further explorations in the area. All sorts of loops are possible, especially once Mo'ole Ridge is opened up. You folks came down Kekoalele Ridge, but you can avoid needing to shuttle cars by descending my "shortcut" trail which puts you out in Mo'ole Valley about a half-hour's walk below the tunnel. There's a variety of ways to return to your original parking spot from that point: upstream and back through the tunnel, along the lower crest of Mo'ole Ridge and back to a point just above the tunnel, immediately over the ridge and through the rolling Garden-of-Eden area, etc. There's also a gate in the fence along the highway which I have somehow found twice before. It allows you to easily exit the woods and walk a mile or so up the highway to the parking spot.


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