OHE December 31, 1997

Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 20:35:58 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Pauoa Valley via Tantalus

To bring our individual fiscal hiking calendars to a close, Nathan Yuen and I completed a 5.5 hour trek in the Tantalus/Pauoa Valley area today, the 31st and final day of the last month of 1997.

We met at the Nature Center in Makiki Valley, finding the gravel parking lot adjacent to the NC nearly full. Luckily we found spots there for our vehicles. We set off on the Maunalaha Trail, the one behind the Center, at 8:30. The skies were cloudy with a slight drizzle.

The ascent of Maunalaha is always an invigorating warmup, with the stiffest climbing of the day happening soon after the get-go. The trail today was muddy but not intolerable. As we climbed, Nathan pointed out some rock formations he found interesting.

We passed one woman heading the opposite way on the ascent and encountered three other folks at the junction of Maunalaha, Ualakaa, and the Makiki Valley trails. All appeared to be of Korean ancestry, and Nathan and I discussed how the local Korean folks have developed a fondness for the Makiki Valley Loop.

From the junction we turned right and up on the Makiki Valley trail and a few minutes later took a left on the Moleka trail. Muddy conditions continued and the skies remained cloudy.

Moleka ends at Round Top Drive and the Manoa Cliffs Trail starts on the opposite side. Nathan and I pressed on, squishing through the ever-muddy path ahead. When we reached the point of the MCT where views of Manoa Valley were available, we could see sheets of rain-bearing clouds sweeping makai from the ridge leading to Konahuanui and beyond. The summit crest, home to Olympus, Palikea, and points east, was completely socked in.

We took our first break at the wooden bench at a bend in the cliffs trail but didn't linger long there because chilly winds made the stay uncomfortable. Before long, we had rounded the corner of Tantalus and began descending toward the signed junction with the connector trail that leads to Pauoa Flats. Once at the junction, which has a posted map of the area, I took a minute to show Nathan the route we'd be taking from there. He was enthusiastic about exploring some territory he hadn't hiked before.

The connector trail took us to Pauoa Flats and then to the junction with the Nuuanu Trail. We followed the latter, hiking in cold, misty conditions as we did. We passed a koa tree on the left that in the past had a rope (for swinging?) affixed to it. No rope today.

We then reached a junction where the Nuuanu trail veers right and begins its switchback descent to Nuuanu stream. Instead of following it, we continued down the ridge which leads to Pacific Heights. Along with hunters, a pakalolo grower or two, and the local pua'a population, the HTMC is the main user of this ridge trail, conducting an outing called "Pauoa Woods" on it and down into Pauoa Valley.

Nathan and I followed the ridge, bypassing a couple of tree blowdowns and negotiating some minor rollercoaster action along the way. I pointed out a plethora of pig trails adjacent to and extending from the route we travelled. No na pua'a were spotted, however.

At 11:20, we arrived at the traditional lunchspot clearing in an ironwood grove and rested and ate lunch there until 11:40. This spot is heavily ribboned and from there the ridge trail ends its makai procession and veers back and downward into Pauoa Valley. After descending for maybe an eighth of a mile, the trail reaches a water pipeline, following it mauka along the ewa-side slope of Pauoa Valley.

As we hiked along, Nathan and I wondered about this pipeline, which even had a faucet that on a prior hike spewed forth a strong stream of water when turned on (today, no water, however). Is this pipeline the doing/property of the Board of Water Supply? Perhaps Mahealani can answer this question.

We continued along the pipeline trail, noticing some plastic spliced sections that had been added to it at a couple of junctures. The trail then passed through an interesting section with old rock walls, exotic vegetation, and then bamboo. We even passed a couple signs stating we were in the domain of the Board of Water Supply and the dreaded "T" word.

We paused for a minute at the concrete slab that caps Booth Spring which appears to be the water source for the pipeline we had hiked along. A new water tank is a stone's throw from the spring and the trail continued in the back of the tank.

HTMC pink ribbons were quite helpful in guiding us through the valley section that followed. Even though I had hiked the area before, it would be quite easy to wander aimlessly in the dark forest along Pauoa Stream without the markers. The trail is lightly used, if at all; hence, a clear path is non-existent. The thing to remember is the trail basically follows the stream, crossing it a half dozen times or so before ascending somewhat steeply through a massive bamboo grove.

Today's rain created a gentle flow of water in the stream, which wasn't the case when I last hiked the trail in mid-August. Back then, the stream was dry and the day we hiked was hot and humid. Today, a few small waterfalls cascaded down rocky slopes adjacent to the bamboo grove and cool winds wafted through the trees. Nice!

The climb through the bamboo took 15 to 20 minutes, and once we topped out, Nathan and I took another short water break. I recognized this spot, also significantly ribboned, as the place where Mabel Kekina and crew had begun chopping clear an impressive swath through the forest.

After the break, we climbed briefly then descended a steep, slippery slope to the stream. The trail crossed the top of a 6- to 7-story waterfall that had a mini cascade down its face today.

From there, we dropped down into a ditch and then ascended to a junction with a trail where one can head mauka back to Pauoa Flats or makai to another junction where one can eventually ascend to the Manoa Cliffs Trail. We opted for the latter and in 10 to 15 minutes we were back at the muddy freeway MCT. Here we turned right, destined for Tantalus Drive.

A couple and a gang of half a dozen teens were right behind us when we emerged on the MCT, so Nathan and I picked up the pace to put some distance between us and them. After a few minutes of putting the hammer down, we had the followers out of sight/sound distance. We reached Tantalus Drive at 1:10, rested on the stone wall along the road for a short while, and then continued along the road to the start of the Nahuina Trail on the left.

Nahuina, like the other trails, was muddy but we descended it to the Manoa Valley Trail, and the MVT to Kanealole trail without problem. We passed a handful of folks while we headed down Kanealole and arrived at the Nature Center at 2:00, ending our day in the mountains.

While not in the same league as hikes along the Koolau crest, the trek we completed today was enjoyable, provided a good workout, and brought to a suitable conclusion a year of memorable hiking.

Here's hoping that hiking in 1998 will be as memorable and enjoyable.

Aloha and hau'oli makahiki hou to all,


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