OHE February 14, 1999 (Ulupaina)

Date: Sun, 14 Feb 1999 20:14:13 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Ulupaina TM

With the majority of our crew out in the Pahole NAR for a weekend of camping, only eight of us were on hand for today's HTMC trail maintenance outing. The scheduled trail was Ulupaina, a little-used loop in the windward Koolau foothills between Valley of the Temples and Iolekaa Valley. In attendance were trail boss Mabel Kekina, Jason Sunada, Jay Feldman, Lynn Agena, Carmen Craig, Jim Pushaw, Kristy Gervacio, and I.

We parked on Hui Iwa Street (there's a new McDonald's along Hui Iwa that is an easy-to-spot landmark). Hui Iwa is situated directly across Kahekili Highway from the entrance of Valley of the Temples, and after we had readied ourselves and listened to Mabel's briefing, we crossed the highway and walked Kaneohe-bound for 100 meters before veering up a slope to access the trailhead, located at the corner boundary of the cemetery grounds.

The trail ascends through guava and after about 100 meters levels off, paralleling the highway below. Just past some ironwoods, we reached a major junction, heavily marked by ribbons. At that point, Mabel and Carmen continued straight ahead (basically south) along the valley contour trail while the rest of us climbed a slope to the right to begin the ridge section of the four-mile loop.

The ridge segment climbs steadily mauka away from the highway, cresting out at a first, then a second, then a third pu'u. The ascents weren't overly steep and the weed blockage minimal. At the third pu'u (elev. 669), the route veers due south, passing a powerline tower, where a rough, rarely-used trail heads makai toward the highway.

There are a couple small bumps on the ridge after the powerline and then there is another semi-steep climb up a hala-covered slope to a junction where the trail veers west toward the Koolau summit wall. At that junction, there is a trail that descends east on a finger toward Kahekili Highway. This finger would be our return route, but before heading east we continued upridge toward the trail's terminus at a large powerline tower.

On the way up the ridge, we passed a large stone on the right. This appeared as a good candidate for petroglyphs but the only etchings we could discern were of the modern-day variety. When we were near the stone, a loud bell from the Byodo-In Temple echoed in the valley to our right. It was 10 a.m. at the time so I reckoned the bell marked that hour. Ten minutes later, the bell tolled again and yet again not long after that. Apparently, the bell ringers weren't on a timetable.

At one point, we passed a nice viewspot on the left where we looked down into upper Iolekaa Valley and the homes of Haiku Plantation. Of note in the valley were trails ascending uluhe-covered slopes to the base of the steep north-facing wall of Iolekaa. These trails weren't visible when I last hiked Ulupaina a couple years ago, and today we wondered who had carved these out and for what purpose. Is someone looking for a route to the ridge that forms the north wall of Haiku Valley? That seems improbable but it was one of the reasons we tossed around today.

The terminus of the Ulupaina upper ridge is at the base of the powerline tower (elev. 960 ft.) situated on a broad weed-infested pu'u. While it's possible to continue mauka beyond the tower, the ridge narrows considerably and becomes overgrown. Eventually, the vertical bulk of the summit wall comes into play, ending any thought of forward or upward progress.

Not enthused about the surrounding weeds, we didn't linger long at the terminal spot, and after we took in the views toward Ohulehule and the opposite side toward Iolekaa, we backtracked down the ridge until we reached the junction with the trail that drops east toward the highway. Fiddlewood has become a big trailside pest along this ridge, and we cut what we could with the people-power available today.

Within 50 meters of the highway, we reached a junction where we dropped to the left down a gentle slope to the contour segment of the loop. The contour seems to generally follow the 200 ft. contour line on the topo map, winding north in and out of a handful of small gullies toward the junction where we earlier had split from Mabel and Carmen.

Considering that pigs are probably the major users of the trail, it was in pretty decent shape and free of any big blockages. Just before noon, we encountered Mabel and Carmen at the head of one of the small ridges that divides one gully from the next. A few minutes later, we had hiked north to a clearing marked by hunter trash hanging in trees, and it was there we sat down to eat lunch.

After lunch, we continued along the route Mabel and Carmen had cleared, doing touch up work as we hiked. When we emerged at the trailhead, hiking toward us was Bill Gorst, who had some business to tend to in the morning and had driven out to Kahaluu, hoping to catch us at some point on the trail. We kidded him about his tardiness while heading back to our vehicles. By 1:30, we were back at Hui Iwa Street, and from there, we drove to Heeia State Park next to Heeia Kea Pier. We enjoyed post-hike refreshments at the park.

Next Sunday, Mabel has scheduled us to work on the Malaekahana Trail out Laie way. For those interested in joining us, we'll meet at 8 a.m. at the park on Po'ohaili Street.

Also, the Ulupaina hike is scheduled for Saturday, March 6. Pre-hike meeting time is 9 a.m. at the gazebo in back of Iolani Palace. Joyce Tomlison will coordinate that outing.

Hike safe,

--DKT


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