OHE August 6, 1999 (DeCorte Park Ridge/Kapalama Loop)



Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 09:03:12 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: DeCorte Park Ridge, Kapalama, Kamehameha

I joined Bill Gorst, Richard McMahon, Rich Jacobsen, Fred Boll, and John Hall for yesterday's WEHOT hike. Bill and I carpooled from Kaneohe and met the others at Kenny's Burgerhouse at the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi at 9:00. We spent a few minutes talking story at Kenny's and I enjoyed an order of pancakes and drank a large-sized drink.

At 9:20, we made the short drive over to Perry Street, at the end of which is DeCorte Park. The city has just completed a new parking lot at the park and our vehicles were the only ones there when we started hiking around 9:30.

To get to the trailhead, we had to skirt around the left (mauka) end of a large, high fence that borders the park's basketball court and ballfield. There are a couple gates thru the fence but both were locked hence the left side skirt-around. Once around the fence, we walked along it for maybe 50 meters and picked up a trail that heads up a rocky segment of the hillside. Just above the trailhead, a huge swarm of bees buzzed about in the treetops and a few even swooped down at us. This caused Rich concern since he has a bad reaction to bee stings. Though e all made it past the bees unstung, Rich inquired if we could find another exit point on the return leg since he didn't want to take a chance with the bees again. Bill and I assured him the bees would likely be gone when we returned but he seemed unconvinced.

Once we reached the crest of the ridge, we hiked mauka along it. High atop the ridge to our right were buildings of the Kamehameha Schools, and I pointed out to the others the old dining hall where I ate when I was a student at the Schools.

The trail could easily be referred to as Ironwood Ridge since trees of that species clutter it for almost its entire length. The trail is not heavily used, is unmaintained, and is honest (climbing-wise). And except for a couple places near the top, there are no views at all, the ironwoods efficiently blocking off vistas of Kamanaiki Valley to the left and Kapalama Valley to the right.

About half an hour up the ridge, we stopped at a rock that is mentioned in Sterling and Summers' *Sites of Oahu* (321). Shaped like a crouching animal, the pohaku, according to the book, was supposedly revered by ancient Hawaiians as a phallic symbol.

It was muggy yesterday, and after inspecting the rock, we mushed on, brushing aside the continuing onslaught of ironwood branches across the trail. After reaching a clearing used by hunters as a break- or campspot, the complexion of the ridge changed, with much less ironwood and more guava and even some uluhe. At one point, we climbed a slope populated by towering eucalyptus, skirting to the right a pu'u at its highest point.

Just beyond was the divine vine section (a tangle of lilikoi vines) and then a short bob & weave segment through guava. Then we commenced a steep scramble up a semi-muddy slope to a junction with the Kapalama Loop Trail, where we plopped down under some Cook Island pines to eat lunch. It was only 11:30 at the time but we reckoned this place was better than any other spots we'd be at nearer to noon.

While we rested and ate, we talked about options for the return leg. First off, no one wanted to go back the way we had come. Prior to the hike, my notion was to descend the Kapalama Loop (the Kalihi Valley side of it) and once at a low point where it crossed a dry streambed, cross over back to the ridge we gone up (some bushwhacking probably required) and then return to DeCorte Park.

Another option was to follow the Kapalama Loop until it emerged at the upper end of Kamehameha Schools, and then walk through the campus to return to our cars in Kalihi Valley. Several folks favored this option even though it meant a possible run-in with Kamehameha security personnel. Rich related an experience where he unexpectedly emerged on the Kamehameha Schools grounds (after doing the Moole Valley hike) and was treated well by security he encountered. Plus, I'm a grad of Kamehameha and know some fairly prominent folks at the Schools (no, not Lokelani Lindsey or Dickie Wong) if name-dropping was needed. So we decided to hike the loop and come out at Kamehameha.

The loop is in good shape, save for a couple of recent blowdowns. The trail switchbacks several times to lose elevation and at the mauka end of one switchback we followed a short trail to inspect the ruins of an old cabin. We then returned to the loop to continue makai.

After crossing a dry stream, we followed the trail as it contoured on the ewa side of a slope until arriving at a junction with a trail that headed to the Nuuanu Valley side of the loop. A new watertank road built by the Schools was visible nearby, but instead of walking down the road, we headed down a trail in the forest that paralleled it.

Eventually, we emerged on a road adjacent to student dormitories. From there, we walked down the campus road for about ten minutes then veered right on a covered walkway that took us through the heart of campus past the School's infirmary, other dorms, and the dining hall facility I had pointed out earlier. I stopped to show the others the Senior Bench, where Kamehameha underclassmen risk assault if they ever sit on it.

We continued on, walking across the baseball field, past the football field, and past Kekuhaupio, the largest of three gyms on campus. We continued down a long set of stairs to the intermediate school campus, and I related memories of running these stairs as a conditioning regimen as a KS basketball player many years (and pounds) ago.

We walked past my seventh grade social studies classroom and the building where I took Hawaiian crafts from Mr. Bowman. We then hiked across a large field used by middle and elementary school students and then past the elementary school gym.

By luck, the Makanani Gate, which normally is locked and unused, was open since construction workers needed access for a nearby project. So out Makanani we went, successfully exiting the Kamehameha campus without being stopped by security. We emerged on Makanani Drive, walked down a hill to cross Aupuni Street, then proceeded through a grassy lot on a trail to arrive at the top of Kapalama Avenue. "If I know any place well, it's Kapalama Heights," I told the others, citing the many years of going up and down the hill while at Kamehameha.

Kapalama Avenue led us to Hala Drive, then to Makuahine Street, then to Kalihi Street, then to Perry Street and the park. We were back at our start point at DeCorte Park, having completed a true loop, at 1:30. Even with the road walking, everyone agreed it was an interesting and pleasant outing.

Hike on,

--DKT


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