OHE December 28, 1998 (Makapuu)

Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 19:27:27 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Makapuu Ridge, 26DEC98

Trail Status:  "Dry Dry Dry"
Clearing Required:  None
Weather:  Excellent - no rain, cool breezes
Summit Visibility:  15+ miles

Saturday found me returning to one of my favorite trails to bring a friend of mine and her father up to check out the awesome views (and what turned out to be a lesson in hang-gliding). It's amazing what this short ridgeline hike along the Koolau's premiere offers in terms of sights. I did a write-up of the entire Makapuu/Tom-Tom Trail during its HTMC trail clearing dated 22NOV98, so I won't repeat the details of the great experience enroute. However, I'll report on the variations since last.

Since the two in my party reside in Hawaii Kai, I had planned to veer leeward off the ridge into Kamilonui Valley or onto Mariner's Ridge. However, wavering confidence dictated our early termination at Kamehame Ridge. Thus, we staged a vehicle at the top of the section of posh houses before getting dropped off at Makapuu Lookout (elev. 140 feet).

Everything was just as written in my last write-up, except for the steady breeze in replacement of the gusting trades. We examined Sea Life Park from afar while my friend's father reviewed some of the aquaculture work that was done two decades ago at the nearby experimental station. In fact, he remembered that he and friend had, indeed, done this particular trail over twenty years ago as young men and recalled that an older gentleman (with two *skipoles*) zipped past them. I made a mention that this person was one of the best hikers on the island and was recently a newsworthy item!

During the "friendly saddles", I pointed out various spots visible from our location, such as Keawaakaiole (Rat's seaport), Maunalua Trail, Kaloko, and the legends of Kaulanaakaiole (Rat rock) and the adultery of Kapoi and the extinction of the fishing village at Kanapou. My friend's father recalled the destruction of the Allen Davis residence (near Kaloko) during the tidal wave of 1947, which left a servant aloft in a nearby tree.

We lunched at the "Waimanalo" benchmark (elev. 1,251 feet) watching two hang-gliders drift almost motionless above us. After taking in the awesome blues and greens, we headed off the peak into the depression where four buildings once served as military barracks. We explored one, ducking in and out of doorways, finding nothing but broken glass panes, pieces of wood frame, fallen electrical fittings, and abandoned furniture. We could clearly see which rooms served as offices, kitchen, dining hall, recreation rooms, and officer quarters. My friend's father talked about the Nike missiles which once crowned the nearby platforms.

We emerged from the quiet complex, headed past the derelict guard shack and squeezed through the gap between the chain-linked gates. Our curiousity pushed us right and up the road to intercept the third hang-glider before launch. At the middle ramp, a man suited in some impressive gear was making preparations to get underway. We greeted them and quietly watched while standing off to the side. A second guy was helping him set up, standing precariously close to the edge of the ramp ending with a 1,000-foot drop. In, fact, he practically fell off, calculating a jump down to a step no more than 2-feet wide just below the ramp! I got a great panoramic shot of Olomana through distant KMCAS with the hang-glider in departure - hope it comes out! As we watched him rise, his assistant talked to us about hang-gliding. He told us that this was an extremely difficult launch-spot used by some of the most qualified of hang-gliders. He pointed out the anomalous wind patterns caused by the terrain, such as the convection effect of the crater-like depression on Manana (Rabbit) Island and the rotor effect caused by the cliffs' angle. He also mentioned that an assistant once died during a launch when the "pilot" accidentally shoved off too soon and forced him to grab the closest thing - the glider's bar. Though they were airborne in stable attitude, they were descending too rapidly and the assistant let go in order to spare the pilot's life. That's why the words "HOOK IN" are nailed to each ramp with a tie-point at the edge: it's directed at the launch assistants.

We bid the man farewell and headed down the ex-military road on Kamehame Ridge. About five minutes later, he came trucking down and asked if we wanted to hop in. He had to lock the gates on his way out and worried that we wouldn't be able to get out. I had never been down this way and had no idea how difficult the "middle" gate was, but considering I had company, I didn't want to risk their discomfort. I later found that this gate was a heavy, tube-welded and triple barb-wired along the top and sides. I'm sure it's do-able when locked with a rather careful climb.

At the main gate, we disembarked, thanked him again, and hopped into our own waiting vehicle. Exploration and lunch included, this fun trip was about four hours.


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