OHE August 21, 1998

Date: Fri, 21 Aug 1998 20:41:14 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Waiahole Ditch Trail via Kahana

Spent an enjoyable holiday day off today with some friends hiking in Kahana Valley. While Kahana isn't one of my favorite venues, today's plan to head deep into the valley to try and pick up the terminus of the Waiahole Ditch Trail sounded appealing.

On hand were Charlotte Yamane (my idol), Bill Gorst, Jay Feldman, and Naomi Nasu. We were able to get access through the first locked gate, saving us 20 minutes of road walking. From our launch point right before the second locked gate, we walked up the road that ends at a water tank, passing a rifle-armed hunter heading makai. We had begun hiking at 9:00.

From the water tank we followed the trail that leads to the four-way junction in a hala grove. At that point, we continued mauka, following a contour trail well above Kahana Stream. We crossed several streamlets, the first with a cable available for assistance. The trail wasn't well-cleared but was still discernible and occasionally marked. For future reference, I put up pink ribbons at various points.

Eventually, the trail reached a junction labeled as Point H in Stuart Ball's book (p. 156). From there, we continued mauka, crossing a tributary stream that feeds Kahana Stream, and then climbing a rutted, uluhe-covered ridge for a few minutes then contouring around its makai-facing end before continuing to contour mauka.

Ten minutes beyond the stream crossing, the trail climbed to the crest of the low ridge and continued mauka through a sea of uluhe and dying koa trees. Blue ribbons marked the route well and pigs have been ripping up the ground and tramping up and down the trail to keep it relatively open.

Bill and Charlotte had hiked this area long ago and recalled that after climbing up the ridge for a spell, the trail veered sharply left and contoured on the left side before dropping down the the ditch intake which marks the end of the Waiahole Ditch Trail. Charlotte even recalled that a gardenia plant marked the junction where the trail veered.

Sure enough, we reached a ribbon-marked junction, and sure enough a gardenia plant was there. The route was evident enough, and we put up more ribbons and did some hacking to make it more passable. At various points we also enjoyed the views of the Koolau summit area, including parts of the Koolau Summit Trail etched into the mountainside near the crest. Nice.

After contouring in and out of ginger-choked gulch, we found ourselves at a shallow, vegetation-jumbled gulley with no evidence of a trail. Fanning out, we descended into the gulley to try and pick up the trail again. About 50 feet down, I found myself standing astride the concrete Waiahole Ditch, now obscured by ginger. We pounded out a trail along the ditch, reaching an intake with a decent flow of clear, cool water.

The ditch trail continued toward Waikane, and since it was still relatively early (11:30), we decided to push on for another half hour before stopping for lunch. The ditch trail is in surprisingly good shape despite seeing very little hiker/hunter traffic. We had to hack through sections of ginger, but we encounterd no major landslides or blowdowns that obstructed the route. The forest overstory obscured views for the most part, but Bill said he recalled a nice lunchspot at the head of one of the ridges the trail contours around, so we made that our lunch spot goal.

A few minutes before noon, we reached the lunch spot, where we plopped down to eat and enjoy the down-valley view of Koiele, Piei, and greater Kahana. During the hike, I was surprised we hadn't encountered any pigs since we saw ample evidence of their residence in the valley. Then again, I had made a point of chattering steadily while we hiked to alert any pigs in the vicinity to make tracks in the opposite direction.

We ended lunch at 12:30 and decided to continue along the ditch trail until 1:00 when we'd reverse course and begin heading back. Charlotte mentioned that if we had thought ahead, we'd have left a car along the highway where the Waikane valley road comes out, so we could have pushed through all that way. Alas, we weren't heads-up today.

By one, we had reached the head of a ridge where we could see in the distance the Waikane Saddle and the Waikane Trail climbing below Pu'u Kaaumakua up to the junction with the KST. By my estimate, based on visual reckoning and also info from Pat's Sept. '97 hike of the route, we were still a couple hours from the Waikane Saddle and a couple more on top of that from Kam Hwy. in Waikane. We still had time to make it, but with no transport on that end, we opted to head back.

The homeward leg was uneventful and much quicker, given a clearer trail and better route knowledge. Instead of returning via the water tank and upper road, we came out on the valley trail, a slightly longer option that involves two stream crossings.

We were out by 4:00, having enjoyed a nice hike and each other's company.

Next up is HTMC trail clearing of the Hidden Valley and Pu'u Manamana trails this Sunday. Meeting time is 8 a.m. at Swanzee Beach Park for those interested in joining us.



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