On August 2, 1997, Kurt Heilbron, Laredo Murray and I met at Temple Valley Shopping Center a little after 11 a.m. and got into my car. Took off for Punaluu Valley at 11:12. Drove as far down Punaluu Valley Road as I could (until we reached a gate blocking further vehicular progress). Departed vehicle at approx. 11:45.
Went thru a gate which had a sign on it stating "private road enter at own risk" and walked along a dirt road. Talked story as we made our way to the Castle trailhead. Reached the trailhead and started up the trail at 12:05 p.m.
The first part of the trail was in the valley and went thru a long grove of guava trees. There were tall eucalyptis type trees (soft dark brown bark) scattered about the area as well. We stopped a couple of times to take pictures as the views opened up. We stopped in the middle of the trail once so that I could cut hiking sticks for Kurt and Laredo out of two guava trees using my bolo knife.
The trail then departed the valley and contoured along the base of the steep west wall of Punaluu Valley. We passed an intermittent stream as we battled our way thru sections of the trail which were in disrepair or had overgrown. After we passed the stream we were treated to some very nice views of the valley below, Pu'u Piei across the valley and of Pu'u Manamana beyond with Pu'u Ohulehule to the right. The Ko'olau Range could also be seen off in the distance. More photos were taken.
Gained elevation as we hiked up the switchbacks and continued to contour. Some of the trail was damaged by landslides or completely overgrown with uluhe fern but shortcuts were available. Between 1 and 1:30 Laredo lead the three of us along a contour section of the trail that went nowhere. We doubled back and began to ascend a shortcut trail which bypassed the switchbacks at approx. 1:30. After 20 minutes of steep climbing we reached a contour section which took us close to the top of a waterfall notch. We were socked in so the spectacular views were not available to us.
It was approx. 2:05 when we reached the part of the trail which leaves the contour section and heads for Kaluanui Stream well above Sacred Falls. Just before reaching the stream we examined the remains of a bivouac used by Al Miller to keep pua'a from getting close to him while he slept during the search for a lost hiker a few years ago. Crossed the stream at approx. 2:30. Worked our way up the trail toward the junction with the Kamapua'a Trail. The section from the stream to the junction was damp, mossy and somewhat overgrown.
Arrived at the junction at approx. 3 p.m. and ate lunch there. Having endured enough mud and overgrowth for one day and with no views available because of the thick clouds which engulfed the mountain we decided not to head for the Castle Summit and the junction with the Ko'olau Summit Trail.
At approx. 3:30 we started hiking along the Kamapua'a Trail. It was in much better shape than Castle because it had been cleared on 3/2/97. On our way down we observed a series of three beautiful water falls to the left which were high above Maakua Gulch. The views toward Laie were outstanding as well. Saw two more waterfalls further down on the right.
Arrived at the top of the Nipple trail at 5:15 and rested there for 15 minutes. Laredo gave Kurt and I each a piece of candy to suck on. While Kurt was consuming his piece some ants came out of it ! On our way down we saw a long waterfall which was above Sacred Falls.
At 5:50 departed the Nipple trail and headed toward the Sacred Falls parking lot. On our way to it a keiki noticed Laredo's green hair and the two of them had a very cute conversation.
Reached the parking lot at 6:15 and walked back to my car in Punaluu valley. Jumped in at around 7 p.m. and headed back toward Kaneohe shortly thereafter.
Notes: Castle is described as "the finest hike on the island" by Stuart Ball in his authoritative book THE HIKERS GUIDE TO OAHU. However, the trail is overgrown and in disrepair. It is a shell of what it used to be. What a shame ! Castle is on the list of endangered trails and it would be completely lost if pua'a hunters weren't using parts of it.
According to legend, Kamapua'a was the pig god who leaned against the cliff where Sacred Falls now exists so relatives could climb up his body and escape their enemies.