OHE December 29, 1998 (Pupukea-KST)

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 11:25:43 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kaunala-KST

On Sunday, the HTMC trail maintenance crew headed to Pupukea on Oahu's North Shore for a two-pronged assault on vegetation blockage. Our leader, Mabel Kekina, assigned one group to work on the Kaunala extended trail and the other to the magnificent albeit overgrown Koolau Summit Trail (KST).

Mabel Kekina, Georgina Oka, Ellyn Tong, Bill Gorst, Jay Feldman, Lynn Agena, Jason Sunada, June Miyasato, John Hall, Thomas Yoza, Joe Bussen, Steve Brown, Charlotte Yamane (my idol) and her husband Volker Hildebrandt were among those in the Kaunala group.

Meanwhile, Grant Oka, Pat Rorie, Steve Poor, Greg Kingsley, Judy and Kim Roy, Jim Pushaw, Ralph Valentino and I headed for the KST with a goal of clearing it with chainsaws, handsaws, axes, and machetes as far as energy and time would allow.

Both groups were fortunate to be allowed four-wheeled access beyond the first gate adjacent to the Boy Scout Camp, and we piled into vehicles driven by Thomas, Mabel, Ralph, Joe, and Ellyn. Ultimately this saved us more than an hour of road walking going and coming.

After passing the start of the Kaunala Trail (Point B on page 126 of Ball's book), we continued motoring along on Pa'ala'a Uka Pupukea (PUP) Road for another mile and a half, stopping just past a junction with a side road that heads uphill to the left (northwest). This road is part of Ball's Kaunala hike (map points F to H) and it also leads to Paumalu, a Girl Scout camp. From that junction, PUP Road continues east by southeast. On Sunday, further continuation on PUP by vehicle was blocked by a locked military gate located 50 yards from the aforementioned junction, so it was there we parked and began hiking. We've seen that gate unlocked in the past, and driving further is possible if so.

From where we parked, the KST's start point is about a 20-minute walk away and commences at an old, heavily rutted jeep road on the right. In Ball's book, again on page 126, this point is where PUP Road ends its easterly tack and veers to the north. A clutch of ribbons marks this point and after a five minutes, the old road yields to the actual trail. A few minutes later, one reaches a signed junction where there's an option to head left to a lookout point or continue right on the KST.

While the KST group headed off into a wonderland of mire and strawberry guava, the Kaunala group continued along PUP road for a while more until they reached the terminus of the Kaunala (extended) trail where they'd begin their labor (Ball makes mention of Kaunala extended on page 128). We later found out that Kaunala needed only minor work since it appears to have been adopted by a dirt bike club which has been riding and clearing the route.

If we had known this beforehand, everyone could have worked on the fabled KST, a magnificent but little-used piece of work that begins in the Pupukea foothills and continues 'til its terminus at the summit of the Kipapa Trail that comes down near the Mililani Cemetery. As it was, nine of us slogged through mud, hacked and sawed through strawberry guava, and whacked at uluhe to continue the task of reopening the route. HTMC members Larry Oswald and Kris Corliss began the restoration project a couple years ago, and the HTMC maintenance gang hammered open an impressive portion during an outing this past June.

On Sunday, from the signed lookout junction, we made our way along an increasingly muddy trail, passing a big open area on the left that could be used as a landing zone or campsite and later mucking through a huge wallow used by na pua'a as a bathtub. We then climbed to a benchmarked pu'u (1,860) with nice views to windward of the Laie/Kahuku coastline and offshore islets and to leeward of Oahu's central plateau and beyond to the cloudfree Waianae Range. Sunday's weather was exceptionally nice, with clear skies, mild winds, and a cooling nip in the air.

The 1,860 pu'u is the usual end of the HTMC's Pupukea Summit hike and also the terminus of the almost-extinct Kahuku Trail. To the east beyond the pu'u, the work of Larry, Kris, and the HTMC invasion in June '98 is evident for a good three-quarters of a mile, maybe even more. Thereafter, strawberry guava is king and from that point we whipped out our cutting tools and started our quest to usurp it from its mountaintop throne.

To wage war, most used conventional weapons while Grant and Pat used heavier artillery, namely chainsaws. To emphasize safety, Ralph gave us a short briefing about how best to proceed (and not proceed) when working with/near chainsaws. That done, a-hacking and a-sawing we went. For most of the outing, Pat had trouble getting the saw he was using to work efficiently, but when it was operational, it inflicted major casualties on infiltrating limbs and branches.

After taking a half-hour break at noon for lunch, we worked until 2:30, reaching a point where the Malaekahana ridge comes into view. From my estimate, with one more push, we'll completely reopen the Pupukea to Laie segment of the KST. Some of us will return on Sunday 1/10/99 to try to make that happen. Email me if you're interested in joining us. We could use the help.



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