OHE January 7, 2000 (Kaena)

Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 12:28:36 -1000
From: Roger Sorrell (alohaboys@attglobal.net)
Subject: Weekly E-Letter

Description of Jan. 5 hike (Ka'ena Point)

Ka'ena Point and Pu'u Pueo

Solemates has reached a milestone in that we're coming upon anniversary hikes more regularly. This one, Ka'ena Point and Pu'u Pueo ("Owl Hill", the Headland) we did back on 1-27-99, but with not nearly as many hikers, and only about 3 of us (none of the three were present for the 2000 trip) went up to the top of the Pu'u. Last time, John Hall was with us, and several Solemates spent a significant amount of time with him inspecting the rare and endangered native plants (especially the Sesbania, Euphorbias, and the Caparis) in the Natural Reserve area. This time, we were 26 hikers, with several newcomers or one-time visitors, and more technology (we had color pictures of the rare plants courtesy of the Web UH Botany site).

We gathered at the end of Farrington Highway (north shore) and, even though we assembled for orientation, our large numbers and the long dirt road into the Reserve tended to scatter us even from the first. The sunny morning may have caused some concern about the hot day ahead, but early breezes provided sound hope for our future. We walked and talked story along the pot-holed and at times muddy road as the waves crashed on the lava coasts to our right. Our first main re-connecting points were the discovery of the endangered beach plant, the Sesbania, and the nesting albatrosses, which perked up our interest. Then, very quickly, it seemed, we were at the end of the Point, resting and debating our options--eating lunch there, going further towards Waianae, or heading up the Pu'u. Surprisingly, it took a while to locate the one person among us who had ascended the headland before--it turns out George was the only one, since John was ill and Jay had to cancel. George was so excited to go, he'd already raced forward before the rest had fully decided what they wanted to do. He graciously returned to the deliberating group, and then most headed out with him over to the Makua side and onto the Pu'u.

The trail up the headland begins as one heads toward the Waianae side well past the Point and finds a road cut turning back to the Mokule'ia side. The road has a sign about the Reserve. One heads off quickly uphill from this road and joins a switchbacking and sometimes obscure trail through mainly koa haole. Several bunkers, two connected by a tunnel, protrude out of the steep hillside and provide great opportunities to catch one's breath and treat any wounds due to slips on lava or scratchy vegetation. Half the group stopped at the last bunker up the hill and had lunch, while the rest ascended at times narrow dike ridge portions up nearer the crest, which is crowned by a radar and satellite-tracking station. The lunch point's spectacular views of the Waianae coast also included some whale watching, for those with eagle-eyes enough to spot them. After eating, some of us explored briefly, searching for a trail down from there back to the Reserve boundary rather than descending back to the Point area. Nothing looked promising, however, and the sentries at the station became quite interested in our movements, so we began the sometimes slippery way down through the crumbly lava and occasional thorns. Native vegetation (alahe'e, naio, ilima) did exist on the Pu'u, but was mostly the sort which could remain after the area had likely been burned and ranched off. (John Obata says the endangered Acyranthes splendens is there, but one needs to know where it is to find it--in other words, don't bother with a wild goose/plant chase!)

We congratulated ourselves and dressed minor wounds down at the Reserve road, and began our journey back to the cars. We scattered again as each little group found favorite things to dawdle about--great swimming pools, fossiliferous coral or lava, interesting plants--and returned at our own time, over that dirt road that always seems a lot longer at the finish than the beginning of this great hike! As we got back, we realized that none of us had thought to look for the moaning shearwaters--probably due to the absence of those jokers Jay and John, who wouldn't have let pass such an opportunity for a witty barb!

Happy trails till next week! Roger and David

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