OHE January 31, 1998

Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 22:32:04 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Pu'u o Hulu

Last Saturday (1/24), I joined hiking legends Fred Dodge and John Hall for the HTMC hike at Pu'u o Hulu (lit. "Hulu's Hill"), a distinctive ridge that seperates Nanakuli from Maili out on Oahu's west shore. A couple dozen folks showed up for the outing, including Wing Ng, Gary Ehara, and Mike Algiers, who I've hiked with in the past. Since the hike was rated as novice level, I wasn't expecting much but I was happily surprised at how things turned out.

Dr. Dodge, with John Hall acting as sweep, organized the trek as a point-to-point outing, advertised as four miles in length. Everyone drove initially to the parking lot of Nanakuli McDonald's and from there we motored over to Kaukama Road. From Kaukama, we carpooled in four vehicles to Hakimo Road where we'd begin the hike at the mauka end of o Hulu ridge. The area where we parked isn't the safest place to leave vehicles but a couple of houses are directly across from where we began. As it turned out, the cars (including mine) were not tampered with during the outing.

We made our way up a gentle slope initially, passing through dried grass, kiawe, and other sparse, dry vegetation. Charred grass and branches were indicators that this was brush fire country. "I hope no one starts a fire while we're hiking," I said to anyone who cared to listen.

After a few minutes, we were climbing the base of the ridge, ascending steadily over rocks, small boulders, and low grass. The day was quite warm and even though we hadn't hiked far, I was already perspiring.

I wasn't diligent about keeping track of time, but I'd say in 20 minutes we had gained the crest of the ridge and were closing in on the high point of Pu'u o Hulu Uka (elev. 715). From that vantage point, we could see Nanakuli Valley to our left, a fairly new subdivision in Maili to our right, massive Lualualei Valley behind us, and beyond that the Waianae Range, clear of clouds from Kaala to the north and Palehua to the south.

The trail stuck to the ridgeline which included some interesting dike sections, some much more challenging and narrow than I expected. At one section, an older woman in front of me crawled on all fours across one of these sections and I stayed behind to offer encouragement.

The ridge trail eventually dropped a couple hundred feet to a saddle and a watertank. More boulder hopping followed on the descent and the subsequent ascent to Pu'u o Hulu Kai (elev. 856). We proceeded slowly, taking frequent rest stops since many members of the group were novice hikers. I didn't mind the leisurely pace at all and enjoyed chatting with a variety of folks, including Gary, who I first met on New Year's day at the HTMC Koko Crater hike.

We reached the most oceanward edge of the ridge where a series of bunkers (four or five) offered nice spots to settle down to rest, talk story, and eat lunch. Most of the group hung out by the first bunker we reached while a half dozen of us moved forward to lunch at the next couple. I used the time to chat with Dr. Dodge, a Waianae area physician who probably knows the Waianae Range and its plethora of ridges better than anyone. One of his pet words is "tricky," an adjective he uses to describe dangerous/gnarly sections of a trail. He's a friendly man, seems quite unassuming, and one would be hard-pressed to imagine him as the conqueror of many of the most dangerous trails (and non-trails) on Oahu.

After lunch, we descended steeply down a ridge toward Kaukama Road, passing an interesting set of basaltic steps that are natural but appear man-made. Eventually, we reached a "tricky" rockface that we went down with the aid of a rope set up by Mike Algiers. A permanent cable, although not an absolute necessity, would be helpful at that point. After a few more minutes of descending, the hike ended at Kaukama Road.

In all, a nice hike, far better than I anticipated.


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