OHE December 19, 1999 (Pu'u Kalena TM)



Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1999 21:58:37 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Pu'u Kalena TM

Today's HTMC trail maintenance outing took us to Kolekole Pass to work on the trail to Pu'u Kalena, at 3,504 feet, the second highest peak on the island. The trailhead at the Pass is at an elevation of 1,700 feet so a bunch of the ascending was done by our cars. Even given that, Kalena requires plenty of climbing on the way up and even on the way back. I'd say the total ascending is about 3,000 feet, a darned rugged workout.

Twenty showed up to help, including Mabel Kekina, Bill Gorst, Kost & Gina Pankiwskyj, Grant Oka, Georgina Oka, June Miyasato, Lynn Agena, Nathan Yuen, Jay Feldman, Jason Sunada, Arnold Fujioka, Rich Jacobson, Steve Becker, Mel Yoshioka, Thomas Yoza, Kim & Judy Roy, Dave Sanford (who'll coordinate the club hike on 1/2/00), and I.

Grant, Thomas, Rich, Mabel, and I had FRS walkie-talkies, and throughout the day we used these to keep tabs on each other and also to infuse some levity into the outing. Grant had the nickname "Caboose" since he manned the sweep position most of the day; I was "Big Red" because of my bulk and trademark red shirt; Mabel was "Mama" since she is like a second mother to us all; Thomas and Rich had no nicknames, but we'll find handles for them soon enough. :-)

We parked at the last dirt pulloff area on the left before reaching the security checkpoint at the Pass, and from there we walked across paved Kolekole Road to a dirt road that led us up past the former site of the Kolekole Cross (removed because of a separation of church & state conflict of interest protest). Then there was a scramble up a severely eroded hillside (Grant called this scree), and then serious climbing commenced. Much of the chatter of our group diminished into silence and transitioned into grunts and coughs as we ground our way up the mountain.

Kalena is well-known for its dike sections. Rich, a first-timer on this trail, said they were far less menacing than he had anticipated. A couple of pluses were that the wind was zero for the entire duration of the ascent to Kalena. And I don't mean light, periodic winds. There was nothing, not a wafting whisper. Very strange and rare for a high mountain ridge. And no winds while hiking across the dikes is a nice thing.

Also nice was that the mountain was dry, even the final climb to Kalena, which often is mucky and muddy. And the dry conditions made the dikes much more manageable. Add gusty winds and slickness on the dikes and crossing them is a harrowing experience, where even the most daring among us might resort to crawling and butt-sliding.

On the way up, there is an intermediate pu'u (unnamed), one of the narrow dikes (shown in Stuart's book), then Pu'u Kumakali'i (2,572 ft.), then more dike sections, then a descent to an eroded saddle, then a climb to another unnamed but map-marked peak (2861 ft.), then another saddle, then the final energy-zapping climb to Kalena. Boom-boom-boom, and you're there. Today, however, Kalena was the drummer and we were the drums.

As mentioned earlier, the wind was strangely absent, making the uphill segments more taxing than normal. It was fortunate for us that the skies were overcast, for if the day was a bright, sunny one, few of us would have reached Kalena, given the thick humidity and lack of cooling wind.

Though hot, sweaty and tired, we persevered, taking time to clear back Christmas berry, guava, and blackberry. We also spotted several tree snails, all in non-native flora (guava and Christmas berry). Ribbons usually marked these trees, making it easier for us to locate the snails and to avoid hacking branches from these lest a snail be on it.

At the summit, the walkie-talkie holders had good transmission/reception range, and we picked up stuff from as far away as Pearlridge Shopping Center, about 12 miles away. We also heard plenty of chatter from the Waianae Coast, including someone putting through a request for items from McDonald's. The blackberry at the summit wasn't as thick and vile as we remembered, a circumstance, someone surmised, of some poisoning by military environmental teams.

After lunch, we headed back the way we came, and all returned to the cars without a problem. As she always does, Mabel had snacks (pumpkin cheese cake, chips, dips, etc.) and cold drinks for us, and we partook of these thankfully while enjoying each other's company. Jim Pushaw drove up to the Pass to meet us and to join the posthike festivities.

For those interested, check out a map of today's route at

http://www.geocities.com/oahuhiker/kalena2.jpg

Also, Rich took some shots with his digital camera, and he said he'll forward some to me to post.

Next Sunday (12/26), the crew will work on the Likeke Trail (Kaneohe). Meeting time is 9 a.m. (an hour later than usual) in the parking area by the Hoomaluhia Visitor's Center.

Safe hiking to all,

--DKT


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