OHE February 8, 1998 (b)

Date: Sun, 8 Feb 1998 21:22:58 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Hauula Uka

As I usually do on Sundays, I joined the HTMC trail clearing crew for maintenance work. Our trail of the day was a route the club refers to as Hauula Uka, which is basically an extension of the state maintained Hauula loop trail. A big gang was in attendance today, about 25 in all, including OHE-L subscribers Pat Rorie, Ralph Valentino, Grant Oka, Thomas Yoza, and Lita Komura.

We assembled on Kamehameha Highway by Hauula Homestead Road at 8 a.m. and after the usual pre-hike chitchat among members and a briefing by our leader, Mabel "Mom" Kekina, we were mauka bound.

We headed up the Hauula loop, the one on the right (Kahuku side) as one is facing inland (Papali is the leftside loop). Where the Hauula loop topped out in grove of Eucalyptus, we headed upslope, basically south, instead of following the wide state trail makai. Hiking vet Bill Gorst advised Pat and I that the ridge trail we would be ascending wouldn't need much work and encouraged us to push through. Hearing this, Pat and I moved fairly quickly up the trail, swinging our machetes periodically as we went. To our right was Kaipapau (lit. "shallow sea") Gulch and to our left was narrower Waipilopilo (lit. "smelly water") Gulch. No sea creatures or foul-odored H20 encountered, however.

In less than an hour, we reached a turnaround nob (elev. 1,500) where the club hikers would veer makai (north) and descend a ridge on the makai (east) side of Waipilopilo to complete the Uka loop. At this nob, the ridge also continues its southerly tack, paralleling the Koolau summit crest. Bill encouraged Pat and I to continue south for as far as we cared to hike, taking in account time and energy. Since neither of us had ever hiked the route, we decided to push on for awhile, which we did after taking a 10-minute break.

The initial descent from the nob had us negotiating a short but exciting dike section featuring one of the sheerest drops I've encountered while hiking. To our right (west) was an estimated 1,000 foot swan dive directly to the floor of Kaipapau Gulch. Pat, as he's apt to do when crossing perilous dikes, yelled out adjectives like "awesome" and "nice." The Koolau crest was on the far side of the gulch, and we spotted a windward section of the KST that was situated above a major landslide scar.

After the dike section, we dropped to a saddle and climbed to a mid-sized nob, whacking away at uluhe and other encroaching vegetation as we moved along. We then dropped down again and ascended more steeply to a larger hilltop (elev. 2,000~) which turned out to be more of a plateau. Fortunately, the recent spell of nice weather had dried up most of the mud that would have made the trail more difficult to negotiate and even dangerous since the route hugged the always-looming big drop to Kaipapau. Periodically, fairly new pink ribbons marked the route indicative that someone had pushed through recently. Bill told us HTMC legend Al Miller had hiked a good ways up the ridge, reaching a point with a view down the gullet of Maakua; perhaps the ribbons were his.

Pat and I pushed through until 11:15, stopping at a pu'u with nice views makai (east) down into Maakua Gulch and mauka (west) into the massive upper reaches of Kaipapau. The summit line, like it had been all day, was free of clouds. We ate lunch at the pu'u and decided not to continue along the ridge which narrowed and dropped to a saddle before continuing its rollercoaster progression. From our estimates, we'd need several tough hours to reach a point where the ridge intersects the upper part of the Castle Trail quite near the KST. At some point, we may return to see this ridge to its end, perhaps doing a loop where we'd end up descending Castle or Waiahilahila (aka the nipple trail).

We headed back at 11:45, and at about 12:15, when we were about halfway back to the turnaround nob, we met Ralph, Grant, Lita, Naomi Nasu, June Miyasato, and Jay Feldman, who decided they wanted to push on to the point Pat and I had hiked to. We chatted for a couple minutes, told them what to expect ahead, and continued our descent.

After Paka-lolo and I reached the turnaround nob, we rested for 10 minutes and then headed down the ridge on the east side of Waipilopilo. Other members of the crew had already passed this way and had hacked open a wide swath through the uluhe. Nice job, gang!

We did some clearing as we descended and eventually caught up to the others at 1:30 or so. We continued clearing and descending at a leisurely pace thereafter.

We capped off the day with a traditional refreshment/talk-story fest, always an enjoyable activity.


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