OHE February 5, 1999 (Ohulehule)

Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 15:40:04 -1000
From: Kirby D Young (kirby.young@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: Return to Ohulehule (finally)

Having a free day Thursday (2/4), I opted to hike to the top of Ohulehule by what has now become the standard route out of Kahana Valley. This would be my second climb of Ohulehule. The first was via Waikane Valley and Pu'u Koiele, a long-lost route that my Mom and I took many years ago (1973?), that included an overnight stay on the mountain. As this pyramidal peak appears as a backdrop in a number of movies, commercials, and even the recently-canceled "Fantasy Island" TV show, I always torture my wife when it pops up by saying "Hey that's the mountain my Mom and I spent the night on!" In response, she always gives me an obligatory rolling of the eyes...

After getting a photocopy topo map of the Kahana Valley/Ohulehule area from the visitor center at the entrance to KV State Park, I drove to a gate fronting a new residential area, where I parked my car at 10:30. A walk of 15 min. brought me to a dam on Kahana Stream, where I decided to remove my boots for the crossing, as the flow over the second spillway was a bit strong.

Keeping a mental note of the directions in previous hiking accounts, I followed the trail makai on the right bank. As this main valley trail curves mauka, I turned left onto an obvious trail still heading makai to a crossing of the tributary Kawa Stream. Then, following the trail up Kawa Stream, I soon came to a second crossing that placed me back on the right bank, heading mauka. From this point, the trail apparently follows an old trail (1967 topo map) mauka up onto a long, low ridge.

Very gradual climbing on this remarkably level ridge was shaded in many places by hala groves. Nice views appeared now and then of surrounding peaks Pu'u Piei, Turnover, and "true" Manamana beneath blue sky and puffy white clouds. Ohulehule itself was visible at many places as well. I grudgingly admitted to myself it looked a bit closer than when I started.

Just past the 256' spot elevation shown on the topo map, I turned left at a junction to descend a side ridge to Kawa Stream. As I descended, I could see across the stream to the ridge I would ascend and follow to the NW ridge of Ohulehule itself.

At Kawa Stream I turned briefly downstream, crossing it before the next bend. In a grove of bamboo just beyond, the trail turned right to ascend the nose of my target ridge. As I ascended there was a great view of the rushing clear waters in Kawa Stream below.

About 2/3 mile of fairly pleasant, nearly level ridge walking followed, admittedly through uluhe, but with trail conditions somewhat open. It was muddy in spots.

Then it began. 1000' of unrelenting climbing to reach the Waikane/Kawa divide. Early on as I climbed, I strayed right on a trail that soon led to the top of a steep descent into a gully. This trail befuddled me, since trees clearly had been lopped along it. No way was I going down that! Retracing my steps, I discovered the error in my way, and continued ascending the ridge. 800' elevation, 1000', 1200', 1400', I was puffing intensely. At 1550' or so I reached the crest of Ohulehule's NW ridge. Elapsed time was about 2.5 hours. Patrick Rorie would be at the top already, I thought. Clearly I am not ready to run with the big boys and girls.

I looked down upon the long, trailless, up-and-down ridge leading to Pu'u Koiele and Waikane/Kahana Saddle. This made me feel even more tired, thinking about pushing all day through that stuff.

After phoning in my progress and taking a big drink, I faced Ohulehule itself and headed towards the steep section. I could see a cable dangling down in an open place. Ascending this 45 deg. to maybe 65 deg. slope I climbed up using roots, tree trunks, clidemia, and cables. The clidemia was _very_ abundant. Historical note... there was no clidemia years ago.

Reaching the junction with the abandoned SW ridge route, I traversed the final gradual stretch to the top, arriving there about 2 PM (3.5 hr elapsed time). The hack-a-Shaq work that has been done at the summit is truely amazing. It looks like someone is planning on putting in a new home there.

With the cleared vegetation, the views were fantastic, notably Puu Piei, Turnover/Manamana, Kaaawa Valley (no dinosaurs), Kanehoalani, Hakipuu Valley, Mokolii Island, Ohulehule SE Ridge (a very distinct path cut by Patrick Rorie led this way), and Waikane Valley. Though hazy, I could see Makapu'u Point. The higher Koolau summits were fogged in, but the KST from Waikane Trail to Poamoho junction and beyond remained clear. The Waikane Trail itself was almost impossible to make out, except near its junction with the KST.

A clear plastic bottle at the summit had water in it. An enclosed pad of notepaper was totally compromised, covered in large part with black mold. I could find no legible hiker entries of any kind. Too bad.

I departed the summit shortly after having lunch, and before the clouds lowered onto Ohulehule, arriving at my car several hours later.


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