I have an insane fascination with Waiau trail, as with Waimalu Middle Ridge trail. I think the reason is that they were recently constructed by friends, and they are difficult to go the whole way. I vowed to clear these two in the next couple years ....
We did a mega-hike on Waimalu two weeks ago. In order not to lose too fast the good condition I got from the pain incurred on Waimalu, I decided to spend a whole long day doing Waiau.
One year ago I suffered mega-humiliation on Waiau: I went up Waimano and crossed over to go down Waiau without scouting out the middle section first. The top part took a whole day, I bivouaced, and then got totally lost in the infamous Big Dip. I lost my nerve and had to be helicoptered out.
After that I, Dayle, and other friends have opened up the route to the Big Dip and beyond, and most of it is a freeway. In Jan. we did a trail-clearing and stopped at a hump 20 minutes beyond the far top of the Big Dip. I hope to clear beyond that point today, and eventually clear to the very top, some day.
Started at 8:30 at the top of Hapaki. A house went up at the paved path that used to be the access, and there seems to be some activity in the next lot also. The very end of the street is still open, and that offered an alternative access.
No rain, but the upper sections have clouds. Someone (Bob Silva?) has been working very hard on the lower sections, and some places are literally 10 feet wide. In about an hour I reached the intersection with the trail coming in from another trailhead. Someone cleared a wide contour trail to make the connection at that point, which was something new.
After the intersection, the trail is not as wide, but still very easy to hike. I did some clearing whenever it got really clogged up. After about ten ups and downs I got to the near top of the Big Dip. At that point someone sawed off a big tree blocking the trail. That was the last sign of trail-clearing activity that I could identify since our own in Jan.
The trail goes down gently at first. Soon it reached an intersection marked by myriads of ribbons, with some ribbons on a rough trail going off to the right down into Waimalu valley. Gene Robinson posted that he went up to Waiau from Waimalu couple of months ago, and I wonder if this is the spot that he made the connection.
Final descent into the Big Dip, and I can see the entire profile of the beloved Waimalu Middle Ridge in the valley to the right, that we did two weeks ago. Since we cleared the Big Dip many times since that time that I got lost, it is now wide open, and no one can get lost any more. Many of the other kinds of ribbons got faded and blown off the branches, but the orange kind of ribbon used by Dayle has stood the test of time and still looked new and brightly orange.
Soon I climbed the Big Dip and got to the far side, where we made it the lunchspot in several previous excursions. I did not stop until some 20 minutes beyond, at a nice hump with good views again of Waimalu Middle, which was the lunchspot for our Jan. clearing.
It was 12:45, and I took 4 h 15 min since the trailhead. I sat down to have lunch, and almost immediately it started to rain. What a drag! I finished eating lunch quickly and then went on beyond, as planned.
No one has been there since I went through one year ago, but my travails left faint marks and I can generally identify the correct path without difficulty. Sometimes I even saw ribbons that I left at crucial places. It rained in earnest and I had to put on rainjacket. It was actually nice to be raining to do trail-clearing, and the vegetation is softened by the water. I saw a high point and aimed to get there, which I did at 2:00. Just about what I planned as turn-around time.
There is a well-defined ridge going down into Waimalu at that point. It is a very distinctive landmark, as that spur looks like an island floating out there; you see if once and you will never forget. Indeed one year ago I passed by going down, and distinctly remembered this spot, but I didn't remember whether I should branch over to that "island". I actually did climb over the "island" to take a look, and only then decided that it was not the main trail.
I turned around to go back, which was uneventful, as the trail is passable now all the way. It rained on and off, which cooled me down wonderfully, until it stopped near the end, where the ground was quite dry. Came out 5:55 to the car.
I hope that the access at the trailhead remains open. We spent tons of effort and sweat on this trail. Hope that some day we clear it all the way.