OHE January 31, 2000 (Manana B/Ditch)

Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 20:53:16 -1000
From: JFEL873@aol.com (Jay Feldman)
Subject: Manana B/Ditch

Yesterday, Mabel mustered almost thirty people to clear this trail and after a strategy briefing by Stuart Ball of how to best do it, the unruly group moved left and very much down, followed by a serious up, and then repeated that cycle; this of course was just to get to the trail head. Fortunately these early access miles were done during the cool part of the day, while we were fresh and foolish. Though comments were heard that these steep declines and inclines would face us later, at the end of the day, such perverse logic seemed petty if not picayune.

Stuart had recommended that the fast group, referring of course to hiking speed, not mental agility, do little clearing until they acquired the hill that marks the start of the hike itself. Thoughtfully, he warned of the possibility of an ambush by Cat's Claw at the second stream crossing, suggesting we might take the time to do some lopping at that time. Happily we moved quickly through that section, leaving most of the work for the second group (which of course is the fast group's modus operandi, that along with its other rule that the majority of clearing should be saved for the way back -- which works especially well on a loop hike).

Arriving at the trail head, we received radio instructions to go counterclockwise and follow the ditch, leaving the high road to the second group. Instantly sensing the possibility of devious directions we went clockwise sending back word a little later that we had erred and gone the wrong way; certainly understandable since no one had an analog watch available. Quickly moving along the road to the start of the ridge line we passed along sections of trail rutted by motor bikes. Feeling they could keep their own trails open, we saved our energy for the uluhe that we knew awaited. We were not to be disappointed and by lunch on a breezeless, hot, sunny, heavily overgrown trail, we began to see that perhaps we had been victims of a clever ruse.

However, this section of the loop is absolutely lovely with wonderful views and the beguiling attraction of Kaipapa's stately Norfolk pines in the near distance. We had hoped to meet the our counterclockwise mates at the crest of the ridge that leads down to Manana Ditch, but that was not the case. As we descended through the thickest and most primitive section of uluhe since Dayle Turner bravely led us down Waiau ridge, we sheathed our tools and followed our third principle of trail maintenance, i.e., tramping through uluhe is a meaningful form of clearing.

Meeting the slow group at the traditional lunch spot, well after one, we exchanged sufficient insults to reassure ourselves we were again among friends. Reversing fields, they went up and we went down. While several of their group came out with us, I assure you no one in the fast group went back up that uluhe hell, oops, hill.

The earlier perverse comments proved in fact true, it was a long hike out; much more demanding then the loop hike itself. Several people experienced leg and foot cramps, others ran out of water and had to indulge in streamwater/iodine cocktails, and others just slowed down, way down. Early exiters arrived at the Manana trailhead by 4:30 or so, the last group arriving as late as six. A long, demanding, but surprisingly excellent day.

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