Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 16:20:46 -1000 From: Patrick Rorie (email@example.com) Subject: Kamaile'unu Ridge 2000
"The centuries come and go, but Kamaile'unu remains - rocky, rugged, relentless."
"Kamaile'unu is the most rugged hike on the island. The trail climbs partway up the ridge separating Wai'anae and Makaha valleys."*
Going against doctor's orders (fluid on left knee), I joined six other individuals in an effort to mark/clear the Kamaile'unu Ridge Trail. The roster broke down as follows: Arnold Fujioka (the hike coordinator for the January 23 MEMBERS ONLY HTM event), Nathan Yuen, Naomi Nasu, Cheryl Batangan, Dick Beaton, and Chris Atkinson (visiting from Northern Virginia). We met in the parking lot of the First Hawaiian Bank Wai'anae Town branch at 8 a.m., and, following final preparations, drove to Ala Akau Street across from Wai'anae High School/Wai'anae State Boat Harbour (parking at the trailhead is a no-no due to the high probability of auto break-ins/auto thefts). The weather? Breezy with clouds socking in Pu'u Kalena and Mount Ka'ala on the Waianae Range but ample blue sky and sunshine along the coast.
Continuing on foot at 8:19 a.m., our group quietly walked through a housing area located between Ala Akau and the ridge. I couldn't help but chuckle to myself upon reading a sign on a fence fronting one of the homes:
"Have Dog - Will Bite - Keep Out"
Prior to gaining the ridge line and commencing the marking/clearing effort, Nathan Yuen directed us to a cave with historical significance. An old spring at the base of the ridge where a Board of Water Supply station now exists, a heiau on the crest a hundred feet or so above the cave and the cave itself were all interrelated at one point. Perhaps Nathan can shed more light on the history behind these three geological features.
While Nathan, Dick, Naomi, Cheryl and Chris ascended above the cave, I dropped down to the actual trailhead and met up with Arnold. Together we walked the route, Arnold tying ribbon periodically to branches of trees/blades of grass while I, armed with loppers, pruned haole koa protruding into the footpath. I noticed the region between Kea'au Ridge and Wai'anae Valley to be unusually green due to the winter rains with one to two foot high green grass covering much of Kamaile'unu Ridge. Eventually, Arnold and I joined up with the others and together our group ascended methodically to the apex of Pu'u Kamaile'unu (elev. 1,085 ft) bypassing the heiau on the left out of respect for the Hawaiian culture and contouring around rock outcroppings on more than one occasion. The grass masked the presence of loose rocks underneath; therefore, all of us had to watch our footing lest one or more of us turn an ankle or twist a knee.
From Pu'u Kamaile'unu the ridge levels off for a long stretch, a pleasant level section, then a narrow dike ensues. Encountered (and trimmed) thorny kiawe plants, and I scored a goat skull on the way to the dike, which will come in handy at the HTM clubhouse during the upcoming HTM pagan orgy fest preceded by a gay luau! Just joking! Aw come on, laugh a little for crying out loud! :-) :-) :-)
We resumed steep climbing beyond the dike and identified a multitude of cactus plants. In my opinion, Kamaile'unu Ridge has more cactus plants than any other ridge on O'ahu! The ridge leveled off again, and I recognized quite a bit of fresh goat dung littering the footpath.
At approx. 11 a.m. Chris, Arnold and I arrived at the top of Pu'u Kepauala (elev. 2,678 ft) and sat down for a breather. A side ridge drops down from that point to a watertank road in Wai'anae Valley and is used by hunters to gain the crest of Kamaile'unu. We hydrated and enjoyed outstanding views of Makaha Valley including the golf coarse, the mansions mauka of the golf course, the Makaha Towers condos, and massive Kea'au Ridge with its sheer, cylindrical, reddish brown rocky cliffs.
Having waited long enough for the others to catch up, the three of us descended steeply to a copse of ironwoods where I pruned a few of the branches that got in my face. Next, the trail contoured for a distance via goat trails on the Wai'anae Valley side of the ridge. Lantana and Christmas berry branches came into play and were promptly cut back. As we scrambled upslope to regain the crest, I noticed Nathan and the others at the apex of Pu'u Kepauala. Chris witnessed a beautiful full rainbow in Makaha Valley once he reached the spine of Kamaile'unu.
Contoured briefly again, then tramped through another copse of ironwoods located on top of the ridge. After emerging from the ironwoods, Arnold, Chris and I endured the final significant climb past yet another copse of ironwoods growing a few feet below the crest on the Makaha Valley facing slope. At a pinnacle on the ridge (elev. 3,210 ft and the third highest peak on O'ahu), the ridge curved north, and we delighted in the excellent open ridge walking while accomplishing the final stretch to the normal terminus of the hike. I couldn't help but remember Greg Kingsley wetting his pants figuratively speaking on this stretch the year before. He has certainly come a long way since then in terms of his hiking confidence and skills.
Spotted a dozen goats contouring well below the trail in the direction of Ka'ala just prior to reaching the end of the club hike (3.5 miles one way from trailhead to terminus). The three of us sat down at a locale where the ridge drops steeply at 11:57 a.m. and began to consume our lunches taking in the magnificent vistas. Kea'au Ridge with is eroded pu'u and unnamed peak, as well as Ohikilolo Ridge featurning the triangular peak and sheer fluted cliffs below the triangle grabbed my attention. Clouds socked in much of the Wai'anae Range including Ka'ala and Kalena, however. Later, Naomi, Dick and Cheryl joined us at the terminus but cramps kept Nathan from making it.
After lunch, Chris and I decided to explore further along Kamaile'unu Ridge descending steeply to a saddle. I noticed a peak between Pu'u Kawiwi and the saddle characterized by a pretty narly looking rock face. Hats off to HTM legends Al Miller and Fred Dodge who successfully traversed the peak on their way to Ka'ala many years ago.
Prior to commencing the return leg at 12:54 p.m., I discovered a bottle at the normal terminus of the club hike with paper inside signed by Bu Laie and Sam Choy! Had the famous Honolulu chef Sam Choy paid Kamaile'unu a visit? I bet he did and probably in a faster time than Wing Ng!!! :-)
During the return leg, our group chose to bypass most of the contour sections, opting instead to remain on the crest as much as possible gaining pleasure from the superb open ridge walking. Much of the Leeward Coast from Barber's Pt. Harbour to the Makaha surfing beach was visible on the way down along with expansive Lualualei Valley, Paheehee Ridge/Mauna Kuwale, Pu'u Kailio (lit. "the dog"), Pu'u o'Hulu Kai and Uka, and Pu'u Heleakala. A passing shower drenched us and created slippery hiking conditions on the lava rock. Fortunately, no one took a spill and all were off the mountain shortly after 4 p.m.
Wai'anae resident, up and coming backpacker and HTM trailclearer Lynn Agena met us as we approached Ala Akau and provided Okinawan bread for our consumption. A special mahalo to her for the kind gesture. We talked story for a while, relaxing on the grass next to the side walk, then began departing. First, Dick and Cheryl in their respective vehicles, followed by Arnold and I at 4:25 p.m. in Arnold's Toyota.
* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE HIKER'S GUIDE TO O'AHU. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1993.