OHE February 2, 1998 (d)

Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 17:45:09 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Mighty Kamaile'unu

This past Saturday HTMC hike leader Arnold Fujioka, up and coming "super" hiker Gary Ehara, and myself headed for Waianae to mark/trailclear the Kamaile'unu hike (HTMC will conduct a members only hike of the ridge on Feb. 8).

We met not far from my home in Waikele at 9:20 a.m. and carpooled in the pat-mobile to the leeward coast. It was an astonishly beautiful day with light and variable winds, the summit crest of both major Oahu mountain ranges being completely clear of any cloud cover.

We arrived near the trailhead shortly after 10 a.m. and parked. As the three of us were walking on the dirt road toward the start of the trail a nearby resident called out to get our attention. He motioned for me to speak with his neighbor. I did so immediately and the gentleman told me to park in front of his house so that my car would not be broken into/stolen. A big mahalo for his help.

At 10:13 a.m. Arnold, with "hot" pink ribbon in hand, led the three of us as we began making our way up the ridge. I carried my loppers so that I could cut any vegetation which impeded progress. It wasn't long before I spotted the dreaded kiawe (sp?) thorn plants. I cut the branches which threatened future hikers.

For the most part the trail traveled over hard lava rock between scorched low level grass and offered ample opportunity for free rock climbing. We worked our way slowly up the initial ascent as Arnold chose the best route to follow either contouring to the side of a rock outcrop or up and over the top!

The three of us walked over the remains of a heiau and eventually reached the start of a lengthy relatively level section at 10:50 a.m. It was there that we took a water break. The views were already beginning to open up for us of Kamaile'unu's sister ridge Makaha Ridge on the left as one faces mauka, the Waianae Range on the right in the distance and the vast Pacific Ocean behind.

A few minutes later we "saddled up" and continued our trek. At the end of the relatively level section we carefully walked over a narrow dike which had a steep drop off on the Makaha Valley side. Next we returned to serious climbing and ascended somewhat steeply along the ridge line. The three of us were "mocked" periodically by a "laughing" bird (it sounded like it was laughing whenever it called out). We could also see the mansions in Makaha Valley two of which had swimming pools. A quote from Ball's "Hiker's Guide" came to my mind - "Doesn't it look inviting ? Don't you wish you were down there?"

After going up and over a couple of minor peaks, Arnold, Gary and I passed thru hundreds of cacti. It felt like we were in Arizona ! On more than one instance Arnold's leg accidentally brushed up again one. Ouch !!!

Pressing on, we three amigos briefly descended fairly steeply to an ironwood grove and passed thru it. The loppers were especially useful here as I cut branches which got in my face or slowed progress. We passed by a hunter's camp site complete with sleeping bag which hung in one of the trees.

A short distance later the trail departed the ironwood grove, opened up again and began to contour along the right side of the ridge. Because of the presence of goat trails in the grass, Arnold, Gary and I took quite a bit of time marking the route. We ascended almost straight up the side of the ridge to regain the ridge line following the contour section topping out near two spectacular rock formations. The view of Makaha Valley below was excellent at that point.

More climbing over another minor peak brought us to the second ironwood grove. We entered it and made an abrupt right turn about half way thru exiting shortly thereafter.

A brief contour section followed and then the final serious climb to the right of a third ironwood grove commenced. On the way up Arnold, Gary and I noticed a gut wrenching smell, that of a dead animal. I immediately told Arnold,"Hike faster ! Hike faster !".

Once the three of us reached the top of the final serious climb we sat down and enjoyed the awesome views. The peaks along the Waianae Range were easily recognizable - massive Mount Ka'ala (elev. 4,025 ft), Pu'u Kalena (elev. 3,504 ft), Pu'u Hapapa (elev. 2,883 ft), Pu'u Kanehoa (elev. 2,778 ft), Pu'u Kaua (elev. 3,127 ft), Palikea (elev. 3,098 ft). The Ko'olau Range could be seen beyond the Waianae Mountains with the Waiawa Dip standing out. The ridge linking Palikea and Pu'u Heleakala and the pyramid shaped Heleakala itself were also visible. Waianae Valley below and expansive Lualualei Valley were a delight to the eye as well !

The final stretch of the ridge before it dropped off steeply featured a wonderful open narrow ridge walk.

Arnold, Gary and I reached the normal termination point of the hike at 1:46 p.m. and sat down for lunch. During the meal Arnold and Gary checked out the terrific views of Makaha Valley, the fluted cliffs below and just beyond the triangular peak (elev. 3,052 ft) which is the topping out point of the Ohikilolo trail along with noname' peak (elev. 3,000 ft) and Pu'u Kawiwi (elev. 2,975 ft) as I submitted an entry into the plastic jug Dayle Turner left on Dec. 20. Gary busted out his binoculars to get a closer look at the breathtaking mountain grandeur. We could hear a goat beneath our location on the Waianae Valley side of the ridge but could not see it.

At 2:22 p.m. the three of us reluctantly began heading back to the trailhead. On the way down we discovered the source of the horrible smell. There was a goat carcass lying a few feet below the trail covered with maggots. Not a pretty sight !

We could see the very end of Ka'ena Point above a low part of Makaha Ridge while on the section between the cacti and dike as well as much of the Waianae Coast.

After descending further I noticed smoke coming from one of the small pu'us near Waianae Town and made it known to the others. It turned out to be a brush fire. A sobering reminder that an HTMC hike could go awry if someone decided to torch a lower section of the ridge on the day of the hike.

Reached the trailhead at 5:13 p.m. and departed a few minutes later.

Notes: According to Ball Kamaile'unu is the most rugged hike on the island. It is probably the most difficult now that Ohikilolo has a fence on it. There are many hazards on this trail and it should be hiked in the winter time. Bring plenty of water and start early.

== Patrick

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