OHE February 28, 2000 (Lanipo-Waialae Nui Gulch)

Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 09:31:21 -1000
From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" (802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us)
Subject: lanipo/ohe-l

I went on the club hike to Lanipo yesterday, even though I'd been up there on the trail clearing only two weeks ago. My botanical exploration plans had fallen apart at the last minute and I was loath to go alone to the kinds of places I like to go. I quickly hatched a plot to kidnap someone from the Lanipo hike to accompany me down into Waialae Nui Gulch, a place I'd always wanted to visit. It worked perfectly.

My wife dropped me by the palace before 8 am and I scanned each arrival to see if they looked like kidnapping material. I mentioned my idea to a few of them, but was studiously ignored. Jay was kind enough to give me a ride to the trailhead, where many more folks were waiting. I tried again to generate some enthusiasm for my adventure and noticed that people started to back away from me. Oh, well, I thought, at least I'll get some exercise.

We all set off and I eventually fell in with a nice Japanese woman hiking in Tevas and white socks; a German fellow (judging from his accent) yo-yoed ahead and behind us looking for viewpoints. As we approached the knoll that the topo showed to be a good jumping off point (please don't take that literally), I chatted a bit about my desire to descend, but I knew that these two were not interested. As we took a snack break atop the knoll, we were passed by folks going in both directions; some fast hikers were bailing because of the bad conditions at the top and some slower hikers were pressing on. Then along came Will Kawano and Jay Feldman, the hike's co-leaders. Jay knew of my plans and also knew of Will's botanical interests so he encouraged Will to accompany me. Once Will was assured that Jay was genuinely willing to handle the hike-leading duties on his own, he and I trundled off down the spur, leaving orange ribbons to show our path. Will said that he had once hiked up Waialae Nui Gulch from the residential area and been stopped by a waterfall about a mile in. We seemed likely to hit the stream quite a bit higher than that.

I think we descended the spur from about the 1760' level on the ridge. It's just after the first clear view of the cascade on the side of Kaau Crater and about a half-inch (on the topo) makai of the spot marked 1930'. The spur forms the other side of the head of a little gully and points back makai, almost parallel with the main ridge. There was no trail, but we occasionally saw traces of passage. Nothing definitive--no chop marks or ribbons or anything--but just some vague swaths through the uluhe. It took some substantial work to get to the streambed, about two hours worth. At some point we veered left off the crest of the spur and headed down into a side gully. By the time we reached an enormous banyan tree, we had lost most of the necessary altitude, but we still needed to move a couple of hundred yards down a side streambed until we reached the main streambed, which was utterly dry.

On the way down the spur, near the top, we had seen a lobeliad (Clermontia) with ripe orange fruit looking like little pumpkins and lots of maua with its beautiful red new leaves. At the bottom, strawberry guava was dominant, but there was also Cyrtandra (African violet family) in abundance. Though the streambed was dry, it looked as though substantial water might flow in it with some regularity. We didn't have time to explore very far upstream, but the prospect looked very inviting. Will was sure that we were above the waterfall. I know I'll be going back soon to see what else lies down there. Only five minutes from our junction with the stream, we saw a clutch of interesting plants growing on one wall of the stream. Nearby, there was an old dark blue and black marker on a nearby tree, the only evidence of humans we saw. The the plants seemed to be lobeliads, but we couldn't pin their identity down. We took a lot of photos, though. After lunch we climbed the 600' back up to the main trail. It was actually easier to go up, now that we knew the way, than it had been to come down. Nevertheless, we were pretty tired and hot as we approached the top. Hearing voices, we figured some of our people were up there waiting for us.

I heard Will say hello to someone and moments later saw with amazement that he wasn't talking to our hikers, but to Liz Huppman of Lyon Arboretum and John Obata, veteran hiker and plant finder. We talked with them for awhile as we caught our breaths. It turned out that John had been down there a few years prior. He asked if we saw his ribbons and we told him we'd seen one. He said it was marking a Rollandia crispa, so we thus obtained an ID for our mystery lobeliad. How fortuitous!

Will and I then hiked back to the trailhead, meeting many other hikers coming up who led us to believe that we were the last HTMCers on the trail. That turned out to be true. We reunited with Jay as he relaxed in a campchair beside his car and talked story awhile. He said that about a dozen folks had made it to the summit, in spite of the less-than-ideal weather up there. As we left, the weather down below was perfect: sunny, warm, and clear. For me the day had turned out to be serendipitously wonderful.


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