OHE December 24, 1998 (Maikiki-Tantalus)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 11:51:19 -1000
From: Dayle Turner (dkt@aloha.net>
Subject: Makiki-Tantalus

I'm on vacation for the next three weeks, so prepare yourselves for a flood of write-ups [g]. Yesterday, I had some chores and Xmas stuff to take care of and didn't have a whole day to fritter on hiking so I shot over to the Nature Center in Makiki to log a short trek.

I arrived at around 11:30 and was surprised to see the gravel parking lot by the NC pretty much full-up with cars. It was a weekday after all, but maybe some of the cars belonged to folks at the NC and others to folks who had the day off like me.

On my way up the Kanealole Trail, I encountered a Korean dude heading back toward the trailhead. He was hiking barefoot, gingerly making his way down the muddy path while clutching his new-looking boots. Blisters? Probably. I've been there, so I wasn't about to chuckle at his plight.

Onward I went, heading left up the Makiki Valley Trail and then right on the Nahuina switchbacks. About midway up Nahuina, I met up with a Hawaiian man and his 10-year-old son. The man, a friendly sort, had a rifle slung over his shoulder. He told me he was looking for medicinal herbs and carried the rifle in case he encountered boars on the trail. "I shot two (in the past) in this area already," he claimed. In case he meant "bores," I spoke in an animated fashion and tried to keep the conversation lively less he gun me down [g].

Kidding aside, he seemed surprised I was hiking without defense, and I told him I hiked the trail fairly often, maybe once every 5 to 6 weeks, and hadn't ever seen any pua'a. He bid me well, "Good luck, brah," were his precise words, and off I went, wondering if a big porker lay in wait around the next turn.

Soon enough Nahuina yielded to Tantalus Drive and after a short walk on the latter, I arrived at the Manoa Cliffs Trail at the base of Pu'u Ohia aka Tantalus. There were no cars at the usual parking area near the trailhead, which wasn't surprising given the time (noon) and day of the week (Wednesday).

The Cliffs trail winds in and out of gullies alongside Tantalus, and as I hiked I couldn't help thinking of the meeting with the Hawaiian guy, and, more specifically, the na pua'a he mentioned. I have never worried about pigs on this trail before, thinking that porkers would come no where near it since it's so heavily traversed, but what the guy told me made me take pause, at least psychologically.

For the record, I saw nary a pig during my hike nor have I ever seen one on this trail. But I've heard of others who've seen 'em in addition to the Hawaiian guy. Maybe I've been lucky.

From the Cliffs trail, I turned right and up instead of continuing ahead on the Kalawahine Trail to Pauoa Flats. Right before the map/billboard junction on the Cliffs trail, I encountered a wahine jogger headed the other way. We exchanged hellos and onward we went.

Where the Cliffs trail swings around the backside of Tantalus overlooking Manoa Valley, there are a couple nice viewspots of the valley and the summit ridge between Konahuanui and Olympus. Clouds hugged the higher segment of the crest toward Konahuanui, but everywhere below about 2,500 feet was clear, including the segment that included the infamous sedan rock and ironwood razor ridge.

Recent winds caused some blowdowns along the Cliffs trail but aside from some places where I had to duck, no major blockages existed. I should also note that one should be careful when crossing the bridges on the Cliffs Trail since the ones without heavy gage wire on them are very slick (nope, I didn't fall but came close).

The Cliffs Trail ends at Round Top Drive, which I crossed to continue on the Moleka Trail. After passing a healthy stand of bamboo (good stuff for fishing poles and nose flutes), I humped upon a section of Moleka that someone has recently widened and regraded. Nice work and mahalo.

In the makai-ward direction, Moleka has one little huff and puff switchback and from there it's all downhill. Moleka ends at a junction with the Makiki Valley trail. I turned right at that junction and in a couple minutes was at another billboard junction where I took the Maunalaha Trail back to the Nature Center.

I saw perhaps a dozen people as I went down Maunalaha. It seems that most folks who hike in Makiki Valley do a one-hour loop that includes a combo of the Maunalaha, Makiki Valley, and Kanealole Trails. That's also a nice hike and I do that when my time (and/or energy) is limited.

As I've mentioned before, Makiki-Tantalus is one of my favorite hikes, and there'll always be a place for it in my lineup of outings.

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka,


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