OHE February 7, 1999 (Pahole/Kealia)

Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 21:37:07 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Pahole/Kealia Ramble

Two dozen folks turned out for today's HTMC trail maintenance outing, but vegetation was spared from the hack of our cutting implements because of a recent mistaken intrusion into the Pahole Natural Area Reserve (NAR) by a couple of club members.

We met at 8 a.m. along Farrington Highway a couple miles Kaena-side of Waialua High School, and we were briefed by trail boss Mabel Kekina about the haps for the day's outing. To our surprise, Mabel ordered us to leave our cutting tools in our vehicles, explaining that this past week a state DLNR worker had found cuttings and ribbons in the area we were supposed to work in. This area is off-limits, by the way, is part of the Pahole NAR, and the cuttings and ribbons were the product of a couple of HTMC members while they scouted out the route.

Knowing that by instinct we'll hack clear any vegetation encroaching on a trail we hike (except endemic species, of course), Mabel thought the most effective way to stifle our ingrained need to whack was to have us not carry any cutting tools, thus today's ban. Some of us hawed and hemmed about being tool-less, but save for one hard-headed (unnamed) individual, we all followed Mabel's order.

In attendance today, in addition to Mabel and I, were Ken Suzuki, Charlotte Yamane, Volker Hildebrandt, Carole K. Moon, Lita Komura, Bill Gorst, Dusty Klein, Jay Feldman, Georgina Oka, Larry Oswald, Kris Corliss, Ralph Valentino, Thomas Yoza, Nathan Yuen, Judy and Kim Roy, Jason Sunada, June Miyasato, Lynn Agena, Jim Pushaw, and two newcomers (names unknown).

The first segment of today's trek was a 3.5-mile road walk from Farrington Highway up to Peacock Flats. There's a 1,400 foot elevation gain, and the climb up the single-lane paved road had us sweating and puffing. We regrouped at the head of the dirt road that passes through the Peacock Flats camping area, and then proceeded south past Peacock Flats on the dirt road that in a shade under a mile yields to a trail.

Two bullet-riddled signs announce the beginning of the Pahole NAR and a ban on bikes in the NAR. During the one-mile trail segment to the campsite, we searched without success for tree snails. We passed a group of backpackers heading toward Peacock Flats, and they mentioned getting lost while looking for the Mokuleia campsite and an arrival there well after sunset on Saturday night. Ouch.

The Mokuleia campsite (elev. 2,220) is marked by a small shelter and a sloping, grassy clearing that pigs favor for rooting.. We regrouped again at the campsite and some of us made the short climb up to the rim of Makua Valley to check out the views. The overlook is wonderful, with Makua laid out from left to right and Ohikilolo ridge serving as a backdrop. In addition to instituting the tools ban, Mabel also told us not to continue past the "End of Trail" sign at the overlook since the extended rim trail up to the Kaala summit road has been designated off-limits by the DLNR. By tradition, club members participating in the annual February Mokuleia campout usually day hike up the extended trail, but because of the ban, they'll have to find some other hike for Day 2 of their weekend outing (the campout, coordinated by Carole and Charlotte, is this coming weekend).

It was still before 11 by the time we had all regrouped at the campsite and overlook, so we had an hour to hike before our traditional noon lunch break. Altogether again, our contingent headed west and then north along the Makua Rim Trail, which for the most part follows a fenceline erected to keep goats and pigs out of Makua Valley. Even with the fence, this is an enjoyable piece of trail, with no shortage of views into Makua and plenty of native plants like Ko'okoolau, sandalwood, a'ali'i, maile, and more.

By noon, we all had arrived at the 2,108 pu'u designated as "Moku" on the topo map, and we all settled down to eat lunch there. A hundred meters below Moku is an abandoned Nike Missile site that the DLNR is using as a nursery for native plants. For whatever reason, no one except for Nathan felt inclined to hike down to take a look at the site.

Views from Moku were spotty since curtains of light rain swept toward us from the northeast. On occasion, we could see the Mokuleia coastline and the faroff Koolau summit backbone, but for 75% of the time misty clouds obscured what we'd ordinarily see. Though lacking a nice view, we enjoyed the time spent together nonetheless. There are always plenty of shared stories, jokes, and snack items during our trail clearing lunch breaks, and without surprise such was the case today.

After lunch, we headed west from Moku down a steep, rutted jeep road that descended for a half mile to the Makua Firebreak Road. We turned left on the Firebreak Road (heading right would have taken us back to Peacock Flats) and a mile later we veered right down another old jeep road that followed a ridge makai (continuing along Fire Break Road would have brought us to a junction with a road leading down to the Kealia Trail). Since only Bill Gorst and I had ever traversed the old jeep road route before, we put up ribbons to keep folks from going astray. Thomas also hung back to keep those at the tail end on track.

By this time, the misty conditions were just a memory, and the afternoon had warmed up considerably. The old jeep road beelines makai for about a mile and a quarter, passing a junction where we headed left (the road to the right eventually contours east thru a gulch or two and climbs back up to the Fire Break Road). Further on, we passed an old water tank on the left. Right before the ridge we were following dropped off steeply, we turned left on a road badly obscured by grass. The topo map shows that a camp of some sort existed in this area, but I didn't see any signs of any structures.

The old road headed mauka to drop into a gulch. At the back of the gulch, the road veered makai again to climb to a broad, ironwood-topped ridge and then dropped briefly into a small gully before ascending to intersect the dirt road leading to the top of the Kealia switchbacks. Whew...is everyone still with me? :-)

The descent of Kealia is quite exhilarating because of the nice views of the coastline below and the buzz of small aircraft flying hither and yon. Our group was spread out a good distance with a span of about 45 minutes between the first and last ones out. Total distance hiked today was about 12 miles.

Mabel was waiting for us at a grassy lawn area near the Dillingham Airfield control tower and we enjoyed a festive post-hike refreshment gathering as is our custom.

Next week Sunday, Mabel has scheduled the gang to work on Dick Davis' Ulupaina trail out by Valley of the Temples. A goodly number of our crew will be at the Mokuleia campout I made mention of earlier, so those who do show up for trail clearing will have a nice workout, for sure. If anyone is interested in joining us, let me know.

Safe hiking,


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