OHE February 18, 1999 (Kuaokala Campout--Pt 2)

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 09:07:13 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@mailhost.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Kuaokala Campout Part II

Woke up on Sunday morning to the sounds of campers preparing and consuming breakfast inside the picnic shelter. I emerged from my tent at 7:15 a.m. and walked into the woods toward the connector trail to shave and brush teeth. Next, I retrieved some fresh clothes and tramped down to the stream for a refreshing dip. As the sun arose above the horizon, it revealed another lovely cloudless day.

Following the morning meal, the group assembled near the shelter in anticipation of the day hike. All but Volker and Randy would be participating. At 9 a.m. the campers scrambled up the connector trail and onto the Makua Rim Trail, headed southeast toward Oahu's highest point, Mount Ka'ala, but paused briefly at the Makua overlook.

The morning sunshine lit up the valley beautifully. The light green/yellow prairie nearest to the ocean transitioned to grass covered dunes in the middle and a dark green heavily forested region made up the back of the valley. The shadows emanating from the sheer fluted cliffs of the steep southern wall below the Ohikilolo triangular peak were also a delight to the eyes.

Pressing on, the hikers traveled along the fence enduring some steep climbs in route to the terminus (elev. 2,590 ft) of the now infamous Mount Ka'ala lookout/Makua Valley overlook trail which Steve Poor and I cleared on January 3rd. Upon reaching it, we could see all of the north shore including the waves breaking off the coast.

From the pu'u, the rim trail descended steeply into forest. John Darrah and Steve Becker led the pack setting a brisk pace. Normally I would try and stay with them, but I decided to take my time and "smell the roses" since it was such a gorgeous day. Once the ridge leveled off and opened up, Inger Lidman decided to go no further. I spoke with her for a short time until Greg Kingsley caught up to us. He and I brought up the rear, hiking together and taking photos of the surrounding topography. More roller coaster action ensued which caused Greg and I to become separated.

After ascending the second of two significant humps in the ridge, I descended very steeply, worked my way thru another forested section encountering uluhe, blackberry plants, and pig rootings before the final climb up a broad hill to a superb overlook (elev. 2,888 ft) where Ohikilolo Ridge comes in on the right. I joined the others on the pu'u at 10:30 a.m. and marveled at the incredible surroundings. The whole of Makaha and Makua Valleys were visible as well as the prominent peaks Noname, Kawiwi and Kamaileunu. Almost the entire Kamaileunu Ridge could be seen from the ocean until it connects with the Waianae Range as well. Other prominent geographical landmarks included aircraft carrier shaped Mount Ka'ala, Keauu Ridge, Ohikilolo Ridge, the Makua Valley middle ridge, and the north shore. Ken Suzuki proclaimed the panorama one of his favorites.

While I continued enjoying the vistas, the other members of the group departed. Greg eventually reached the location and took in the sights. The fence kept going veering right and descending on Ohikilolo Ridge. Although tempted to explore the ridge, I resisted out of respect for Carole Moon and Charlotte Yamane (the Kuaokala Campout coordinators).

Greg and I reluctantly departed the hill at about noon and backtracked to the Mokuleia campsite stopping for lunch in a shady place before pulling in. I arrived first at 2 p.m. and walked over to the picnic shelter where two DLNR forestry dudes were conversing with several of the campers on a variety of topics. Meanwhile, Ken, Ralph, Carole and Lester had left the area in Lester's truck to fetch more water from one of the beach parks on the leeward coast.

The men from DLNR took off and the group relaxed and talked story at the shelter patiently awaiting the honk of Lester's horn signaling the return of our compadres from their mission.

Desiring to make the most of the final full day in the region, I decided to visit Peacock Flats, an area I had never experienced. Without telling anyone of my plans, I stoop up, passed thru the campsite north bound and began hiking on the Mokuleia Trail, a graded contour footpath constructed by the CCC in 1934. I accomplished the two mile stretch and emerged onto a dirt road bordered on each side by tall Norfolk Island pines. As I approached the flats campgrounds, I spotted eucalyptus trees, walked around the region then continued descending to the paved Mokuleia Access Road. Traipsed down the access road until I recognized the middle ridge of the unnamed valley which Steve and I explored on January 3rd. Retraced my steps to the Mokuleia Trail where, much to my surprise, Lita, Charlotte, Georgina and Steven were gather together loitering at the trailhead.

At approx. 4:15 p.m. the conquering heroes returned having obtained the much needed H20. Ralph, Steven, Ken and I carried the precious cargo to the picnic shelter. During the trip Ken brought to my attention a few rare native plants found only in the Mokuleia area and said with emphasis "DO NOT CUT!". A scolding I richly deserved brought on by the January 3rd ill conceived trail clearing.

Reunited once again, most of the campers commenced dinner preparations between 5 and 6 p.m. Following the evening meal, a handful of the group headed for the Makua overlook to watch the sun set and the stars come out. Unfortunately, clouds obscured the horizon making for a less than ideal sunset and overcast skies prevailed blocking any attempt at star gazing. Steven predicted rain.

Somewhat disappointed, the campers descended to the campsite. I cooked my dinner and while eating it the clouds dissipated revealing a multitude of stars. Campers spread tarps on the lawn and lay down on them. Ken named the constellations using his flashlight as a pointer.

After I finished dining on chicken noodle soup and pork and beans, I assumed the star gazing position. A short time later, Carole encouraged me to tell a story. The first tale I selected had to do with the Klein Memorial on the Ko'olau Summit at the end of the Poamoho Trail. "Geraldine Klein spent a lot of time at this campsite" Charlotte interjected. I had no prior knowledge of this. Was it a coincidence that I had told a story about her? Spookie! Other myths included the (accidental?) drowning of a lone hiker at the Kawainui Pool, the lone hiker eaten alive by wild boar on the Kawailoa Trail, and a lost hiker's encounter with the spirit of Wade Johnson in upper Sacred Falls (note: I mean no disrespect toward Geraldine Klein and Wade Johnson). Greg, already handicapped with a phobia of na pua'a, began dreading his hike back to Peacock Flats. Randy shared about a boyscout killed in the 70's when the boy fell 200 feet off the Ko'olau Summit Trail. To change the mood, certain individuals cracked jokes.

The nine o'clock hour came and went and the group disassembled each to his/her own tent. With this being our final night, I paid a visit to a spot on the Makua Rim Trail where unobstructed views of Makua Valley (pitch dark) and the north shore (city lights) were available. I noticed the beam of Greg's flashlight as he made the lonely journey to the flats and found out later that he whistled to himself during the trek, heard some rustling in the woods, and saw a pig before completing the stretch! Didn't come down from the rim until almost 11 p.m. Brushed my teeth and retired for the evening shortly thereafter.

== Paka

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