OHE August 12, 1999 (Poamoho via California Ave)

Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 22:46:02 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Poamoho--two variations

During a HTMC trail clearing outing of the Wahiawa Hills trail in April [1], a handful of us went off course and ended up making our way north to a broad ridge, just one removed from the one where the Poamoho road & trail is. Today, I retraced the route of those of us who went astray and continued on to make the connection with Poamoho.

Today's hike was prompted by the benevolent gesture of Fred Boll and Richard McMahon, who decided to pay a visit to the Poamoho cabin along the summit trail to do some cleaning and to leave a broom and other gear for future cabin users. Knowing they were going up today, the idea to try to make the connection to Poamoho via California Avenue came to me. If all went well, somewhere along Poamoho I'd hook up with Fred and Richard, and also Charlotte Yamane and Rich Jacbosen, who also joined them.

At Fred's suggestion, we met at 9 this morning at the Park & Ride lot off of Kamehameha Hwy across from Wheeler AFB. Chris Atkinson, departing the islands tonight because of a change of duty stations [2], also met us there but he decided not to hike because of the predicted length of the outing and because he had some last minute tasks to tend to. We said our goodbyes and wished him well.

From the P&R, Rich and Charlotte jumped into Fred's truck and headed for Poamoho (Richard would meet them at the Dole Pavilion). I would not see these folks until later in the day (that was my hope) since I was bound for the end of California Avenue, my start-point for the day. I hung out at the P&R until 9:20, waiting for Wing, who told me the night before he was going to join us. Alas, he was a no-show.

I drove over to California Ave, parking on the street in the shadow of the large water tower. In my pack was 3.5 liters of water, machete, lunch (sushi), Zephur jacket, a power bar, a Clif shot [3], and miscellaneous other essentials. I was wearing my usual get-up of nylon shorts, coolmax shirt (red), orange-web gloves, gaiters, puka boonie hat, and Nike Sharks. I also used a pair of hiking poles. Launch time: 9:40.

I hiked the Wahiawa Hills trail for awhile, descending Hangman's Hill, crossing a streamlet [4], climbing to the top of a large pu'u, then descending to a crossing of Kakonahua Stream (the lower crossing). Thereafter, I endured a sweaty climb up a pitch we call uluhe hill, stopping a couple times to take in the view of the stream-gulch below and the backyards of some houses along California Ave.

Near the top of the climb, the trail transitioned into the remnant of an old jeep road, and after a short tramp on this I arrived at a junction, marked by a double-ribbon. In April, it was at this point that some of us went the wrong way, heading left when we should have gone right. Since it wasn't my intention to hike the Wahiawa Hills loop, I again headed left, this time knowing full well where I was headed. This way was the continuation of the old road, now just a trail, and after five minutes or so, I arrived at another junction with a more distinct jeep road.

I headed left (west), cruising along on the old road through a forest of paperbark and eucalyptus. At a couple points, mudholes and blown down trees led to short diversions left or right of the road, which continued unerringly on its western tack. Recalling the April walkabout, I knew at some point I'd have to make a righthand turn to head north toward Poamoho. And when I arrived at the junction for the right turn, I continued past it, thinking the actual junction was further along the west-heading road.

Five to ten minutes past the junction, I realized my error when I arrived at a locked gate at a fenceline [5]. Seeing this, I knew I had missed the junction since we encountered no such gate and fence in April. On the other side of the fence was a large field of low grass with a powerline tower about 100 meters away. Beyond the tower was Whitmore Village (I couldn't see Whitmore but the map says it's there). Before backtracking, I watched some HECO workmen tending to the tower.

Reversing field and arriving at the correct junction, I marked it with double ribbons and then headed north on another old jeep road, making two steep descents. At one point, I passed an abandoned vehicle on the right, its windshield shattered. The old road petered out as it dropped through a tangle of fiddlewood to cross a sluggish, narrow Poamoho Stream. Poking around, I found a decent line down to the stream, to its far bank, and up a spur to the top of the adjacent ridge. I put a few ribbons in this area for future reference.

After a steep section, the trail reached less slopey ground. I passed a metal pipe on the right and then arrived at a segment of the trail used by dirt bikers. The trail tread left by the motorcycle enthusiasts was well worn, and soon enough I emerged on a broad ridge populated by paperbark trees and with a 4x4 road on it that ran east to west [6]. In April, we had stopped to eat lunch nearby.

I'd been hiking about two hours to this point, and since it wasn't noon yet, I decided to continue on, hoping to reach Poamoho before stopping to eat. That decided, I hiked east up the 4x4 road for about ten minutes until reaching a bullet-riddled sign indicating this was a public hunting area. If I read my topo map correctly, the sign is at the 1652 pu'u on the topo map.

To the left of the sign, I found a trail heading northeast on a spur that appeared would merge with Poamoho ridge. The trail, only slightly overgrown, was easy enough to follow and was gentle, ascent-wise. Flora I saw along the trail included naupaka, sandalwood, ohia and koa. As the ridge started to climb, I could look down to the left at the dirt road to Poamoho.

Eventually, the trail emerged on a dirt road, an offshoot of the main Poamoho Road. I spotted many numbered pink ribbons along this road [7], and after 5-10 minutes I arrived at the main Poamoho road by the hunter's check-in mailbox. Fred had parked his truck there, and I was glad to see it. Since it was 12:15, I decided to sit in the bed of his truck to eat lunch before continuing on. My other option was to just kick back at the truck until Fred and company returned, but reckoning that might be a couple hours away, I figured it would be better to spend those hours hiking.

At 12:40, I signed the log in the hunter mailbox, noting entries by Fred at 9:40 and by Dave Webb on 8/7 [8] and then headed up the road, which has been bulldozed and shored up with bluestone gravel and with bigger rocks where the worst mudholes were. With dry conditions, non 4x4s can easily make it all the way.

Once I reached the trailhead, I continued hiking, wondering when I'd encounter Fred, Richard, Rich, and Charlotte. Sooner would be better but if I hiked all the way to the summit before meeting them, that'd be okay too. As it turned out, the first one I met was Fred, at a point just before the trail crossed over from right-side contour to the left. Fred told me they'd accomplished their mission to tidy the cabin, pick up trash in the area, and stock it with broom and dust pan. Good deal.

Fred also told me Rich was ahead of him. I expressed surprise at this since I'd seen no one on my way up the trail. We later found out Rich had descended a trail down to Poamoho Stream, and I went by during this diversion and therefore didn't encounter him.

While Fred and I chatted, Richard and Charlotte arrived, and we all hiked together down the trail, meeting Rich at the junction with the trail down to the stream. Not long afterward, we met a father and his young daughter heading for the summit. They'd be camping, and we encouraged them to use the cabin, which the dad was surprised to learn about.

We arrived at Fred's truck at 3:45, and I signed us out in the mailbox log before we departed. Fred dropped Richard off at the Dole Pavilion me at California Avenue, and Rich and Charlotte at the Park & Ride. Mahalo to him.

At some point, I hope to coordinate a two-day/one-night backpack trip for the club that will traverse the route I used today and continue to camp sites at the Poamoho summit (cabin or stream clearing). Day 2 would include a crossover on the KST to the Schofield trail which we'd descend to California Avenue to complete a true loop. This outing could start on a Saturday morning and conclude the next afternoon.


[1] http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/ohe/April99/4-26g.html
[2] Chris is in the Coast Guard.
[3] Power Gel wannabe.
[4] Noted as the place where Jay Feldman fractured his wrist. 
[5] A sign on this fence said "No Trespassing, U.S. Govt Property".
[6] West is Kam Hwy and east is the Koolau summit.
[7] Part of an ungulate control effort?
[8] http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/ohe/Aug99/8-9b.html

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