OHE April 6, 1999 (Kaaumakua via Waikane)


Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 07:28:38 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@mailhost.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Family Deity Hill

In preparation for the upcoming 2nd quarter HTMC super hike, Pu'u Ka'aumakua (lit. "family deity hill"), Kent Bien and I checked the route to ensure that it would be ready for the day of the trek. The two of us met at the intersection of Kamehameha Hwy and Waikane Valley Road a few minutes past 9:30 a.m. on April 4th - Easter Sunday. Kent, a 55 year old former Navy Seal and an avid runner, had jogged approximately 12 miles from his home near Kalaheo High. Blue sky prevailed over the ocean but clouds socked in the Ko'olau crest and created overcast conditions. Occasionally, sunshine penetrated the clouds.

After final preps, we tramped along Waikane Valley Road and passed through an unlocked gate onto a 3 mile dirt/gravel road which penetrates deep into Waikane Valley. Accomplished the road walk in little over an hour then traveled along the Waiahole Ditch Trail above one of the Waiahole Ditch flumes. The graded contour footpath has been damaged quite a bit by landslides, blowdowns and other debris over the years but remains hikeable nonetheless. Some sections still contain the cobblestones placed there long ago. Kent and I endured a few low bridges which would best be cleared by a chain saw in route to the Waikane Saddle (aka the Kahana Saddle). Enjoyed the superb view from the saddle of massive Mount Ohulehule dead ahead and pristine Waikane Valley stretched out before us with much of Kaneohe Bay beyond.

At approx. 11:40 a.m. the two of us headed mauka on the Waikane contour trail, a graded contour footpath 1.5 to 2 miles in length. With the exception of the first of two major landslides the section of the trail to the first overlook of Kahana Valley isn't too bad. Footing and balance are a constant concern, however. In-your-face clidemia hirta plants are also a nuisance and choke much of the segment.

Pressing on, we discovered a sizeable new blowdown beyond the first overlook. Two large trees made further progress difficult so Kent and I removed hand saws from our packs and got to work. It took much effort and time but eventually the trees went tumbling down into Kahana Valley one of which almost took us with it!

Further ahead I lopped thickets of overgrowth while Kent removed smaller trees from the path by cutting them in two and pushing the bulk (roots and trunk) over the side. Like young boys in the woods we pushed large rocks off the trail and took pleasure from the resulting crashing sound below. Made improvements to the second of two major landslides where a Boy Scout once fell to his death then worked in and out of the distinct gully and past the Chinese banyon tree.

Tired from the labor we had performed up to that point, Kent and I put our tools away and hiked the remainder of the Waikane Trail. The final half mile to the junction with the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST) cut into the steep southern wall of Kahana Valley high above the valley floor is one of the finest stretches on the island highlighted by breath-taking views of the Ko'olau summit ridge as it extends northward and pristine undeveloped valleys below.

Upon arriving at the junction with the KST marked by a rusty metal stake, the two of us departed Waikane, ascended the flank of the summit ridge via a switchback attaining the summit ridge crest then crossed over to the leeward side of the summit ridge. We contoured above three gullies through overgrowth for about half a mile. While hiking on the initial tract above the third gully, Kent and I approached a dead loulu palm with a stream bed behind it. From the stream bed the two of us slowly climbed Pu'u Ka'aumakua gaining its apex (elev. 2,681 ft) at 2:40 p.m.

At the top we delighted in the awesome panorama featuring the Salt Lake/airport area in the distance, the south shore, the Ewa Plain, the Waianae Range, the Wahiawa Plain, the north shore toward Ka'ena Point, the Ko'olau Range to the north including the Schofield terminus, massive Pu'u Pauao, the steep west wall of Punalu'u Valley as it intersects the Ko'olau Range, Pu'u Piei, Turnover, Pu'u Manamana, Ohulehule, Kanehoalani, Chinaman's Hat, and the rest of the windward coast all the way to Makapu'u. Recognized no less than three benchmarks on the grassy summit along with three lobeliads, two lapalapa trees and other native flora. Kent and I sat down to rest, hydrate (Dr. Pepper and tang for me) and consume food (an apple and a power bar was all I needed) for the return leg. At 3:20 p.m. the peak became socked in with clouds and the chilly trades motivated us to get moving again.

During the descent of Waikane we enjoyed the fruits of our labor and paused on several occasions to trace the KST as it stretches toward Poamoho cut magnificently into the sheer pali of the Ko'olau Range. I reached the Waikane saddle at 4:45 p.m. (less than an hour and a half from Ka'aumakua to the saddle!) and Kent joined me a few minutes later.

After one final look at the surrounding mountains and valleys, the two of us headed down the Waiahole Ditch Trail. At the flume Kent washed his face with the cold flowing water as I sat down to ponder the upcoming super hike. "You're in for one hell of an adventure!" I imagined myself telling the group on hike day.

We took our time strolling along the dirt/gravel road and approached my car at 6:45 p.m.

Notes: The Waikane contour trail, a diamond which has lost its luster figuratively speaking, is an incredible piece of work that has been badly damaged over the years by the forces of nature. Hopefully, the HTMC trail clearing crew will get a chance to work miracles on Waikane before the upcoming super hike.

== Paka


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