OHE December 26, 1998 (Ahern Ditch)

Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 01:38:23 -1000
From: Thomas Yoza (tyoza@gte.net>
Subject: Manana Ditch 12/20/98

On Sunday, Dec. 20th, while half of the HTMC trail clearing crew took a "vacation" on Maui, the rest of us were hard at work doing what we normally do on Oahu. Our marching orders were to check out the Manana Ditch trail and to find a way to make it into a loop hike. This hike formally used to start at the same place as the Manana Ridge hike at the end of Komomai Dr. up in Pacific Palisades. You then dropped down into the gulch on the left, climbed up a ridge,descend into another valley, and finally scramble up yet another ridge just to reach the start of the actual Ditch trail, which is called the Ahern Ditch.

Last year we re-routed the start to avoid all that up and down action. It now begins at the road that goes up to the Waiawa Prison, about a 100 yards past the point where the road makes a left then right turn with boulders along side the road. To get to this road, take the Ka Uka Blvd. exit off the H2 Freeway, then head towards the Mililani Cemetary and look for the sign showing the way to the prison. The trail head is on the right side of the road with plenty of parking along side.

We had a good group of 11 hikers: Bill, Jay, Charlotte, Volker, Jim, Lynn, Ralph, Jason, Georgina, me, and the "late" John Hall. The first mile of this hike is down in a gully, following a maze of meandering dirt bike trails. Some sections were a little muddy but passable and the vegetation seems to be kept in check by the constant use from our two-wheeled friends. After this, we climb out of the gully and onto jeep roads for another mile or so. There are numerous forks and crossing trails so keep a sharp lookout for the ribbons marking the correct path.

At the end of the jeep road section, instead of going right along a side slope trail, we continued on up the ridge following more motorcycle tracks. This is the start of the new loop trail that we were going to "explore". We actually paused here for about 20 minutes looking at maps but nobody could figure out exactly where we were so we just went on HTMC style. And we went on and on and on then stopped to reconnoiter the situation. Between the Ohia tree and Sandalwood tree Bill spotted our normal lunch spot, two ridges away. So the plan was to keep heading up and towards the target ridge. Charlotte and Volker decide to turn back at this point.....he said his knee was sore.

At this point we were still following a trail (hunters or pig), and it generally stayed on top of little ridges. Another hour or so goes by and people begin to inquire about lunch. Heck, it was only 11:00! Even when Mabel isn't around we NEVER eat before noon....... right gang??!! So we're on top of this brushy Pu'u, can't really see to much, and have three choices: turn around; keep going up; or go down this ridge to our right which is in the general direction of where we want to be. We took the 3rd option and started down this Uluhe fern covered ridge. At about 12:00 we had our lunch at an open area under a Ohia tree. From this vantage point we could once again see the normal terminus point of the hike. The closest we got to that spot was about 200 yards....but there was this deep ravine between it and us. We opted to contimue on down the ridge and into the ravine where we knew the other trail would eventually merge. Hiking down on ridges with Uluhe fern is always dangerous as they have a tendency to grow over-hanging on cliffs. Therefore, we let these retired guys like Bill and John go first since we didn't have any new people to sacrifice. Miraculously, everybody survived!! When we reached the bottom of the ravine, there was some fresh cuttings on the ground, like someone was here just an hour before.

The return trip went by without any incidents. Its basically a contour trail following the Ahern (who was that guy?) ditch as it meandered along the valley wall. There was one slope where the Uki uki (lilies) were in bloom with white and purple flowers. Got back to the cars at about 3:20pm. BUT.....no sign of Charlotte and Volker who came in Jay's car. So we had our usual snacks and drinks, Lynn made some pies and brownies, filling in for "Mom". An hour goes by with no sign of the couple, and we are now getting worried. Ralph makes preparation to go and look for them. We have several cell phones among us, so Ralph borrows one from Lynn and everybody else exchanges phone numbers. Just as Ralph puts on his pack and gets ready to go, we hear their voices heading towards us. We are all relieved that they are safe. Their story was, they went exploring somewhere else and took an hour lunch break.

Bill said we got to go back again and find the correct ridge to make it a true loop trail. After I got home, I looked at the topo map again several times but I just can't figure out where we went or which ridge is the one with the normal terminus point. Oh well! Who needs maps anyway....just do it!!!

Does anyone know if HTMC has a trail clearing scheduled this Sunday 12/27?

Aloha, Thomas Yoza

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