OHE August 12, 1999 (Kaluanui to Poamoho)

Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 19:45:35 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Maakua to Waikane via KST, Days 2 & 3

Hi, all...

This is our day in and hike from Kaluanui Valley to Poamoho.  
Because I (and others) have recently described the KST, I've left out the
details between Castle and Poamoho junctions.

Happy hiking!
Days 2 & 3:  Upper Kaluanui Valley to Poamoho Cabin
Friday, July 21, 1999 - Saturday, July 22, 1999

A day of lazy lounging and crisp, fresh air was the perfect prescription for the previous day's 2,400-foot ascent. The damage assessment included ripped-off "duck lips" from my hydration tube (probably due to an ohia limb), a poncho bonnet (undoubtedly blown away by the high gusts), and an array of bumps and bruises averaged out on our persons. However, our spirits were unblemished and we were eager to leap from sleeping bag and tent and idly wander about as aimlessly as possible.

As it would continue to do from dawn, the sun buried its face behind a gray, glowing veil of overcast till dusk. Kaluanui Stream would become our "River Ganges" as we eventually washed in, played in, laundered in, swam in, and drank from it throughout the day.

I explored the immediate area a little, poking in and out of the sparse guavas. Stashed in a mossy wood, I found two bottles of alcohol: Vodka and Cognac from the smell of them. As I returned to a path behind the campsite, I found a tangled roof of vegetation sheltering strewn-about cookware, discarded tin cans, ceramic eating ware, and two rolled-up foam mattresses. It was the nearby shredded bag of thick, high-quality rope and goggles which gave the place away as the abandoned climbing gear and forest abode of the legendary Al Miller.

Later, with laundry detail complete and our previously-soiled clothing dripping from tree limbs in the swaying breeze, Blossom and I set out on a downstream romp, often settling down on a stream-side boulder to admire the strange rippling caresses of water vapor descending upon us. The silent patterns were mesmerizing, stroking the air before us as if a ghostly hand were beckoning the clouds to lower. We kept silent during these moments, absorbing the misty ambiance about us, until the foggy waves lifted. Upon these rocks, conversation bounced back and forth as fervently as the topics we exhausted progressing from subject to subject. Of course, all seriousness ended no farther than 100 yards downstream when we engaged in a rock-splashing contest then a game of "battleship" upon the fallen leaves floating by. Ahhhh, to have a "fort" again after so many years!

This all led to a game of chase as we scampered upstream, toppling pebbles underfoot and climbing over the occasional boulder or two. At an "island" in the middle of the stream (not too far past the campsite), we found a deep gut to the stream to take a dip in. The slow, icy water was invigorating and a real breath-taker when getting in! This was definitely the coldest water I've ever jumped into.

The day went on as laguidly as we could make it until it and we capitulated to both night and seriousness. And though the sunshine had nary a moment's glory through the overcast, we still enjoyed the valley's beauty, peace, and serenity.

Camp broken, gear packed, and lazy desires stowed, we departed the campsite at about 10:30 AM on the following day. Our Poamoho destination was at least four sloppy miles away and we mentally prepared for its painful ordeal of clidemia and uluhe. Returning via the same trail we had previously descended, we pushed through the overgrowth and side-stepped the deep blowouts once more. We groaned our way out of the Kaluanui Valley and back to the "notch" along the ridge. Whereas we arrived from the right (east) along the Waiahilahila Trail two days prior, we now took a left on an upward hike upon the continuation of the severely-vegetated Castle Trail. Bound for the mushy Koolau Summit Trail along the crest, we tackled, ducked, and tunnelled through the vegetation which engulfed us. If we didn't know it, closing in on the KST was as obvious as the increased sloshy-mud and overgrowth. The only positive to this vegetation explosion over the years is that some sections are totally dominated by native flora instead of the noxious clidemia invader.

Enroute, made note of previous highlights to our last traverse of this section: the side-trail with views overlooking the rear of Kaluanui Valley, the waterhole we drew about 8 liters from, the junction of Castle and Hauula Ridge where we took that wrong turn. I added a ribbon or two here and there for the future confused or unfortunate. What we didn't find was the infamous sleeping spot of a month ago barrelled under the thick uluhe - perhaps mother nature reclaimed it! What did surprise us, though, was the amount and type of territory we covered then in near pitch-black darkness! It's amazing that we didn't get as lost or hurt as only the sunlight of today revealed those possibilities.

Reaching the junction with the KST (elev 2,800 feet) at 12:55 PM, we plopped down on a grassy mound and gulped down water, Clif, and granola bars. Without a moment to spare, we pressed south on the KST, never escaping the gloomy overcast of yesterday. We laughed whenever our mud-shuffling revealed shards of blue PVC/nylon drapped on bushes and buried in the slop. These were remnants of a certain rain poncho (belonging to me) shredded by the uluhe and clidemia on the previous trip through this trail.

A little over fours hours of cold-blasted wind pummeling later, we reached the Poamoho Cabin (elev 2,560 feet) almost shivering and a tad exhausted. Disengaged from our backpacks, we topped off our water supplies from a natural ditch nearby and skittered back to the cabin like bugs under a carpet. A fantastic meal of fresh vegetables and hot noodles melted the night away...

Next: Day 4, Descent into Waikane Valley

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