OHE August 24, 1998 (b)

Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 21:40:34 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Opae'ula

This past Saturday (8/22), I joined my buddy Bill Melemai and his family at Camp Palama Uka, located in the Koolau foothills between Haleiwa and Wahiawa. Bill and I have camped at Palama Uka many times (call Palama Settlement for info) but it'd been a year since we'd last visited there.

Bill and ohana began their outing at the camp on Friday and I joined them the next morning. Stuart Ball does a nice job describing the driving route to the camp. One modification to note is that Opae'ula Road now begins at a turnoff (Emerson Road) from the Haleiwa bypass road. What's more, there are three gates to pass on the way. The third was locked when I drove up on Saturday morning, and all three were locked on our way out in the afternoon after breaking camp. Fortunately, the folks at Palama Settlement provide a key to get thru the gates to those using the camp.

One of the nice things about Palama Uka is its close proximity to three nice trails: Kawainui (great swimming hole), Kawai Iki (interesting hike along a trestled ditch system), and Opae'ula (pleasant family hike).

Since we had some young ones along, Bill and I decided to hike Opae'ula because it's relatively easy and short. From the camp, the head of the Opae'ula trail is a short 5-minute walk away. On the way, we passed some healthy koa and sandalwood trees, interspersed with larger eucalyptus specimens.

We descended into Opae'ula Gulch via switchbacks thru strawberry guava. A rain shower hit as we hiked down the trail but in a matter of minutes it had done its deed and moved on. The trail crosses Opae'ula Ditch a couple of times via some questionable looking planks, but these only looked suspect and held up with no problem. The water in the ditch looked clear and inviting, particularly given the muggy conditions following the cloud burst.

After contouring above Opae'ula Stream for a while, the trail passes by a concrete dam that can be crossed to avoid wet boots. But the dry boot option involved a steep climb out of the gulch followed by a steep descent back into the gulch via an old jeep road that Bill and I decided to pass on.

Instead, we continued on the trail along the stream, and after crossing it a couple times, we arrived at a pleasant swimming hole. Hiking at a very casual pace, we needed just under an hour to get there from Palama Uka.

Once we arrived, we strung up a rope to a sturdy branch overhanging the pool, and the kids took turns swinging out over the water and plunging into its cool depths. Actually, the pool was only 6 feet deep at the most, so Bill and I acted as spotters in the water to steer the kids away from shallower parts.

The day turned out to be a pleasant one, with the warm sun helping us forget the rain burst that pelted us earlier. The area around the pool is quite nice, with a sizable area available for sunbathing and some nice shaded spots for those wanting to stay cool.

After spending an hour at the pool, we retraced part of our approach, ascending out of the gulch on a different trail that took us east of the gulch to a large grassy football-field-sized plateau used by the military. This route then took us past the head of the Kawai Iki trail and then back to the junction where we had initially descended into Opae'ula Gulch.

Opae'ula is a short, mellow hike that I always enjoy.


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