OHE August 2, 1999 (Tripler Ridge)

Date: Mon, 2 Aug 1999 12:20:04 -1000
From: Nathan Yuen (nyuen@lava.net>
Subject: Tripler Ridge Trail Maintenance

Yesterday, 18 of us in the HTMC trail-maintenance crew met at the park in the back Moanalua Valley to clear the Tripler Ridge Trail that leads to the Koolau Summit. The "actual" trailhead begins at the very top of Tripler Army Medical Center near the end of Jared White Road. However, because the large number of our vehicles causes problems for nearby Tripler residents, we no longer start the hike from Tripler Army Medical Center. Instead we rendezvous at the very end of neighboring Moanalua Valley and climb up a spur from the valley to gain Tripler Ridge.

In addition to myself, the crew included Mabel Kekina, Lynn Agena, Slo-Joe, Jim Pushaw, Jason Sunada, Arnold Fujioka, Kim Roy, Judy Roy, Ralph Valentino, Michael Valentino, Grant Oka, Georgina Oka, Anonymous-Wahine-Hiker (AWH) and few first-timers whom alas... I cannot remember their names. Also part of the expedition were Bill Gorst and Jay Feldman, who ascended to the summit through an alternative route [wink] [wink] and cleared the Tripler Ridge Trail from the top down. The rest of us cleared from the bottom up.

After Steven Brown collected our signatures on the waiver sheet and left for another hike, we embarked on the dirt road at a brisk pace. As we started down the road, the sun was shining brightly with no clouds shrouding the summit. And since there was also very little wind, we expected the day would be a scorcher.

After crossing the 6 arched bridges on the winding road over the course of a little more than half-an-hour, we reached the marker with the number "12" painstakingly carved and painted in yellow on an angled surface of the post. From here we veered-off the road and began the climb up a spur to Tripler Ridge. Removing our machetes, loppers, and other trail-clearing implements, we commenced chopping mode. As we made our way first through uluhe ferns and then through thick stands of strawberry guava, the trail became steeper and significantly more demanding to climb. [huff!> [puff!> [huff!> [puff!> After pushing aside decaying koa and guava tree stumps, we reached a near vertical rock face, where we contoured to the right to circumvent the obstacle. Continuing upwards through even more strawberry guava... we finally reached the Tripler ridgeline! [cheer!>

After resting a bit to rehydrate we began some serious work to prevent the overgrowth on the margins of the path from swallowing the trail. As we proceeded up and down the "roller coaster" action of the ridgeline at a methodical "trail-clearing" pace, vegetation flew in all directions with machetes hacking at clidemia and uluhe, and loppers decimating the strawberry guava.

I was extremely fortunate to be hiking with AWH, who is knowledgable about native plants, when we happened upon a number of different plants all of which have the name "ohia". She pointed out that the different forms of "Metrosideros polymorpha" such as "ohia lehua", "ahihi", and "ohia papa" are related to each other, but that the other ohias such as "ohia ha" and "ohia 'ai" (mountain apple) are not. How interesting it was to learn her speculation that these non-related ohias were given that name because their fluffy and pom-pom like blossoms are similar to "ohia lehua".

Continuing onward, we groaned in unison when we suddenly saw clouds descending from the summit. And within a short period of time, the clouds began dumping their moisture on us. Pushing onwards in the rain, we peered over a saddle where a landslide had recently taken place and spotted an unmistakable glow in the distance! Reflecting brightly off the surrounding mists on the mountainside was Jay Feldman's rain jacket fluorescing the color of a yellow-green highlighter! Gleefully whooping out to him, we hurried down and across the saddle to met him and Bill Gorst.

As we made our way further up the mountain, we reached a junction where the "end-of-the-road" trail climbs up to meet the Tripler Ridge Trail. Since it was already past noon, we decided to stop at the junction for lunch. And since the rain was falling and the trail was muddy, it was decided that the group would forsake the summit and return to Moanalua Valley via this "end-of-the-road" trail.

But as we waited for the others to join us, the clouds began to dissipate and the sun slowly peaked from behind the clouds. So Jim Pushaw, Arnold Fujioka, and I decided to push on for just a little bit more to clear the trail to the powerline trail. So onward we went, climbing ever higher up the mountain. And the higher we got, the more the sun emerged from the clouds! Within a few minutes, the summit was completely clear with the full brunt of the sun shining down on us. So we decided to strike for the summit after all! As we made our way higher up the mountain, Jim unfortunately slipped in the mud, pulled a muscle, and decided to turn back.

Just as Arnold and I reached the final climb to the top, the skies darkened from a large cloudbank looming overhead that threatened to overwhelm the summit. In order to beat the clouds, we quickened our pace [huff!> [puff!> [huff!> [puff!> and reached the top! [cheer!> We reached the summit in time to see the windward coast below! But within a matter of seconds, the clouds reclaimed the summit and swallowed all views. With nothing to keep us at the top, we turned around and began the return trip back down.

Using the same path our compadres had returned, we veered-off the Tripler Ridge Trail onto the "end-of-the-road" trail that descends to the dirt road in Moanalua Valley. After dropping down the sometimes-steep spur, we soon found ourselves plodding along the long winding dirt road back to the park. Fortunately, a nice cloud cover and breeze made the return trip along the seemingly endless road much more enjoyable than usually.

When we finally reached the park, we were pleased to rejoin our fellow trail-clearers. And as we've become all too accustomed, Mabel replenished the calories we lost on the trail with irresistible treats--a mango cream cheese concoction that was to die for and these really incredibly rich double chocolate brownies. According to Mabel, the desserts are part of her plot to keep us fat, thereby guaranteeing that we'll return the following week to work-off the calories. A truly dastardly scheme that works like a charm week after week after week. :-)

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