OHE December 15, 1997 (b)

Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 21:40:28 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Olomana with the HTMC

A hard-to-miss windward Oahu landmark is triple-peaked Olomana. Yesterday (Sunday, 12/14), members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club maintenance crew worked on the trail system on Mount Olomana for an upcoming club hike.

At the instruction of trail boss Mabel Kekina, the crew would work in two teams. One group, which included Mabel, Carole K. Moon, Bill Gorst, John Hall, Georgina Oka, among others, would work on the finger ridge trail that commences on the hillside just past the golf course guard shack. Much machete and saw work was needed for that section. Meanwhile, the other group--Grant Oka, Ralph Valentino, Will Kawano, Jay Feldman, Doug Klein, Naomi Nasu, her friend Chris, June Miyasato, Nathan Yuen, myself, and the famous woman hiker I idolize--would clear the route that traversed the mountain's three peaks.

At about 8:15, our group proceeded down the golf course access road, turning left into the forest where a sign indicates that the Olomana trail begins. After a few minutes along the trail, we all brandished our cutting implements and began hacking away at encroaching vegetation. Whenever they blocked the path, branches from Christmas berry, fiddlewood, guava, and cat's claw were felled and dispatched of.

In about half an hour, we had worked our way to the junction with the trail Mabel and crew were working on. Here we turned right and moved upslope to an ironwood grove. We rested there briefly and I enjoyed an unobscured view of the Koolau Crest, especially the section from Waialae Nui to Olympus that Pat Rorie, Wing Ng, Art Neilson and I had hiked the day before.

The trail to peak one of Olomana didn't need much clearing. Save for some pruning of some laua'e ferns and a few Christmas berry branches, we did more work climbing than hacking. Soon enough, our crew was at the 15-foot rockface just before the first peak. A rope/cable was placed there which is a welcome aid even though climbing the rock can be done on the right without it. We all made it up and over without a hitch. A narrow dike exists just before the high point of the peak and a contour trail to the right is available for those not in a daring mood. I barked out, "True HTMer's go over the top!" and hearing this all but a couple of the gang scaled the perilous dike instead of taking the more protected route to the right.

We rested for a few minutes at peak one, enjoying the cool breeze and the panoramic views. We then descended to a saddle and made the short climb to peak two which unbeknown to most bears the name Paku'i. From Paku'i, one by one we embarked on a steep scramble/repel down a loose-rocked hillside. Someone before us had spliced together a 100-plus foot section of strap/cable/rope to facilitate the downward trip. As I descended, I belted out lines from "Let it Snow," (Oh, the weather outside is frightful...") to help lighten the mood of the first-time visitors to Olomana amongst us, some who appeared very nervous. The comic relief seemed to help.

The ultimate goal of the day was peak three, named Ahiki. Getting there involved deftly scaling boulders on a narrow ridge, gingerly making our way to the left of a huge rock with a picture-window-sized hole in it, and carefully scrambling up a 20-foot rockface. We placed ropes on the latter two sections for safety reasons. Doug, Ralph, and Grant removed these during the return trip and will replace them the day before the club hike scheduled for 12/28. Last year, some unknown vandal(s) cut all the ropes and cables on the mountain a few days prior to the HTMC hike. Removing then replacing the ones we installed this year is one way to avoid a repeat episode.

We spent half an hour eating lunch at the flat-topped summit of Ahiki with a nice view of Maunawili Valley in the foreground and the Koolau crest in the distance. Meanwhile butterflies fluttered about around us and a faint breeze wafted up the makai-facing slope.

The return trip involved re-negotiating the tricky sections we had done previously and the huff-and-sweat ascents to Paku'i and then Mount Olomana itself. While resting at the latter, trail boss Mabel arrived, proving that even though she's in her late 60s, she still has the stamina and gung-ho spirit to conquer Olomana.

Our rest complete, down the mountain we went. We stopped at the ironwood grove where I found a comfortable bed of ironwood needles to lay me down to rest. While we lounged there, the esteemed Stuart Ball and his wife Lynne arrived to visit with us. They reported seeing a handful of wild pigs in the initial forest section where the trail began. Stuart, who had wrenched his back while leading the HTMC Kanehoa-Hapapa hike, said he has recovered nicely. During this time I also chatted with veteran hiker Bill Gorst, who is helping to scout out a proposed contour trail that the state wants to construct around Olomana.

After the rest stop, we hiked out on the section of trail Mabel and company had cleared. What was once a tangle of lilikoi, banana poka, and other assorted foliage was now a clear, easy-to-hike trail. Nice job Mabel and crew!! Fifteen minutes after leaving the ironwood grove we were passing the guardhouse and heading back to our cars to end a fun day on the trail. We then drove over to nearby Maunawili Park where we enjoyed post-hike refreshments that featured Mabel's carrot/pineapple cake. Yum.

In all, we had a great day while doing some work on a challenging trail. If you have time, check out Olomana on your own or with the club on the 28th. I think you'll enjoy the time spent.

Aloha, safe hiking, and happy holidays to all,

--Dayle


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