OHE August 10, 1998

Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 07:05:00 -1000
From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" (802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us>
Subject: aiea ridge/ohe

My comrades and I went up Aiea Ridge on Saturday. The reasons were several: I had never been to the top. I wanted to look for ways down into Kalauao (and upper Waimalu) nearer the summit than the three routes that descend from the Aiea Loop Trail. I wondered how badly H-3 has disturbed the experience of hiking the ridge. I wanted to examine the gully right at the summit that I've read about in other OHE dispatches. And I had three companions of varying abilities (Konahuanui/Olympus trailclearing was not an option!). One, in fact, had been on the island only a week, having come here to take a new job. Her hiking experience was mostly in Arizona and though she kept smiling, it became clear that the narrow, muddy trails, encroaching vegetation, and steep dropoffs were not what she was used to.

I won't describe the whole trail; Stuart Ball does a fine job of that in 'Hiker's Guide...' The traffic noise from H-3 was somewhat distracting in spots, but the trail is so fine, offering such wonderful views, native plants, etc., that H-3 didn't spoil it for me. Furthermore, the final third of the trail (measuring from parking lot to summit) is shielded from H-3 by other ridges, from the approach to Pu'u Kawipo'o to the summit. Near the top, the trail passes well behind, above, and to the left of the tunnels, and the highway can be forgotten.

We moved quite slowly, starting at 8:40 am and taking about three hours to get to the top of Pu'u Kawipo'o. We ate lunch there and chatted with a trio of entomologists who were shaking plants into upturned umbrellas to collect samples. The weather was perfect, largely clear even at that altitude, and the view were tremendous. As we started along the narrow ridge leading up from Pu'u Kawipo'o to the transmission tower, our Hawaii hiking novice eyed the steep dropoffs on both sides and decided to wait on the pu'u for the rest of us. In another half-hour, we gained the grassy area before the summit, which already offers great Windward views. I didn't have time to go down into the little gully, but it looks easily accessible (a trail led down from the grassy area) and I'm hoping there's water down there; if not a flowing streamlet, at least some hollows that would retain water for several days. We continued around the tower and up to the genuine summit. The cluster of ridges around Pu'u Ohulehule looked particularly magnificent from that vantage point. After we spent awhile gazing all about, obscuring mist settled upon us and did not rise from the summit again that day; our timing had been very lucky.

We made our way back at a leisurely pace, getting to our car around 6:15 pm after a full, rewarding day.

Regarding a descent to Kalauao, I'm interested in descending at or just beyond the point marked 1925' on the topo. I think I saw a faint trail descending from the 1925' hill, and the next spur mauka looks quite doable. At that point, Kalauao Stream runs close to the ridge separating it from upper Waimalu Valley, and that ridge is very low. It has just dropped about 400' from the top of the 'forehead,' and rises only about 150-200' above the streambed.

Once atop that ridge, it might be possible to attain the summit. It should also be possible to descend into Upper Waimalu.


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