OHE December 25, 1997

Date: Thu, 25 Dec 1997 18:31:49 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" 
Subject: A Likeke Christmas [or] Why does Dayle hike on holidays?

By tradition, I stuff myself on holidays such as Thanksgiving, New Years, and, of course, Christmas. To stave off my sometimes bothersome inner-voice, I ease the guilt for the mega-calorie barrage by engaging in some exercise prior to the sustenance onslaught. Food tends to taste better and is consumed with more facility when one's conscience is clear. Well, at least that's my philosophy.

At one point several years ago, I was into running, so that worked well as a pre-feast bill of fare. Then came the kayaking phase, then bicycling. The current kick, as those of you on the list are aware, is hiking.

Accordingly, with a big feast forthcoming today, I decided to join a group of dedicated members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club for some maintenance work/exercise/conscience-easing on the Likeke trail, the contour route forged by hiking legend Dick "Likeke" Davis at the base of Lanihuli on the windward side. Trail work on Christmas day? Yup, business as usual for the HTMC maintenance crew.

The group--Naomi Nasu, Carole K. Moon, Thomas Yoza, Ralph Valentino, Jay Feldman, his friend from New Zealand, Pat Rorie, and I--assembled on Auloa Road at 8 a.m. and set off up a now closed-to-vehicular-traffic section of roadway for 10 minutes to the start of the Likeke Trail at a junction with the Old Pali Road. After ascending a series of concrete steps, we entered the forest and began climbing a steep-sided pu'u with the aid of several switchbacks. At one point, Pat pointed out his sweetheart Pu'u Ohulehule in the distance, raising his hands and bowing in reverence to the pyramidal mountain.

As we hiked along, it appeared that someone had recently passed this way and had done some hacking. "Maybe the trail is clear all the way to Likelike Highway," someone barked out. Well, it wasn't but someone's good work was evident for at least half of the route. Mahalo to that unknown trail clearer.

The trail crosses a small stream, passes a small waterfall, and then breaks out into the open with nice views of the Pali Lookout and the precipitous ridgeline leading to massive Lanihuli above us.

We passed an ancient settlement site on the right, which is marked by stone platforms and huge, towering mango trees. Jay mentioned how he could sense that people had populated this area just by a feeling he had. Others who have hiked the area, including Dick Davis himself, have told me of similar feelings.

The trail contours along the base of the Koolaus and dips down into a handful of dry streambeds that probably flow with impressive vigor on heavy rain days. Using pick and shovel, Dick Davis had almost single-handedly cut switchbacks in the slopes of these streambeds to ease the ascent/descent into a couple of the larger ones, a noteworthy and strenuous undertaking, no doubt.

While the path travels mostly under a canopy of trees, a few sections offer unobscured views downslope to the Koolau Golf Course, Hoomaluhia Gardens, subdivisions of Kaneohe--including Keapuka where I live--and points beyond. We also looked mauka at a broad ridge that eventually turns vertical. Years ago, HTMC legend John Hall and friend climbed this incredible ridge with Hall retreating before summiting and his companion ultimately topping out with the aid of climbing gear. Wow!

By 11:30, having worked hard to make the trail more navigable, we reached the end/start of Likeke at the closed-off parking lot at the Kaneohe end of the Wilson Tunnel. We spent a few minutes resting there and admiring the steep slopes above us, looking for ways up, as hikers are apt to, even though we knew we'd probably never attempt an ascent even if a route looked do-able. Hey, we can dream, can't we? :-)

We began the return leg at 11:45 and by 1:00 we were back at our vehicles on Auloa Road. We enjoyed some post-hike refreshments, talked story, and then bid each other happy holiday and farewell until our next mountain du jour (Poamoho) this coming weekend.

Speaking of mountains, I had one of my own (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, et al) waiting for me at home. And after the short drive to Keapuka and a refreshing shower, I commenced devouring it.

Conscience clear, of course.

Aloha, Merry Christmas and bon apetit to all,

--Dayle


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