OHE January 11, 1999 (KST)

Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 01:21:38 -1000
From: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net>
Subject: Laie to Pupukea

Today I went with Dayle Turner up Laie, cross over to Malaekahana, and beyond to join with the trail clearing group working on Pupukea- Summit trail.

Started at 8:20, and got to the top by 11:55. Crossing takes 1:35.

It has rained a lot lately, and the trails are MUDDY!! In fact I have never been SO MUDDY ever, in all my hiking!!

Top of Malaekahana was confusing, and the trail was not distinct. Took a while finding the right route.

From then on is _terra incognita_, I've never been on it. The trail is visible, but there are lots of guava trees that overgrow and intrude. We attempted to cut the worst, but time constraints did not allow us to do a good job.

Soon it's 2 p.m., and we talked about "where the hell is Paka and his gang of trail-clearers, and where is the improved trail?"

Paka & co. is supposed to clear the trail from the other end, and when we meet up, we are supposed to have a freeway to walk on, which we looked forward to with anticipation, since the guava intrusion is becoming annoying.

About 2:15 I heard the Paka characteristic voice yelling. Assuming that the worst is over, I sat down for 10 minutes to gulp down my lunch, which I dared not eat so far.

By 2:45 I saw Dayle and Pat together. Inquiry as to "where is the improved trail?" drew embarrassed laughter. Apparently the main trail-clearing group gave up long ago, and Paka went ahead of the main group to push through to meet us.

The trail we walked on continued to be overgrown until 4:00, when suddenly it opened up. Apparently the trail-clearers have been here.

From there it was till 5:20 when I arrived at the Kahuku trail hump. I actually took the contour bypass of the hump, since that was opened up, and I don't feel like going up and down unnecessarily.

Few months ago I did go on the hump and marked the junction with Kahuku with ribbons. Greg says that it is invisible, but it should not be so, unless my ribbon disappeared.

From there it is 1:15 to the jeep road, and another 20 minutes to get to the locked gate.

I was amazed to hear car honking. Some trail clearers drove up with 4wd to the gate and waited there!! Most surprising and most welcome: I didn't have to walk that extra hour to get out to the paved road.

A lot of the trail-clearers were still there waiting for us in the pitch darkness.

I was famished, and immediately bought a Big Mac and drinks at the Laie McDonald's. Then the long drive home and the laborious scrubbing of the mud off my whole lower body.

It always feels good to be SO TIRED after a LOOOONG day hiking, especially a trail I've never done before.

Must say though that the trail was boring: once you've seen one hump, you've seen them all.


Reply From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>

On Mon, 11 Jan 1999, Wing C Ng wrote:

> Today I went with Dayle Turner up Laie, cross over to Malaekahana, > and
beyond to join with the trail clearing group working on Pupukea- > Summit

A couple things to report about Laie. First, the gate that blocked progess on the farm road has been moved a quarter mile further makai. It used to be located just past a taro field. Now, the gate is at the junction with the paved road and the start of the gravel/dirt road.

Also, the guava section of the Laie trail has been heavily rooted by pigs. I expected to encounter a pua'a at some point but ended up seeing none all day.

I reached the Laie summit at 10:50 (2:20 from my car), rested for fifteen minutes at the foxhole, and scanned the rolling hills toward Pupukea for any signs of colleagues from the trail clearing crew. I spotted what I thought were people in the faroff yonder and waved and yelled. But what I saw were probably white tree stumps or some other natural features.

At 11, I decided to plow forward on the KST, figuring that Wing would catch up with me since I'd slow my pace by stopping to clear the trail and put up ribbons. It was a beautiful day to be up in the mountains--clear, slightly nippy, nice breezes.

I also agree that it was muddier than heck up there. I've been muddy before, but never as muddy as I was yesterday. And I never fell down at all. But sloshing through umpteenth KST mudholes turned everything black from the knee down.

The terminus of Malaekahana is very indistinct. I put a double ribbon atop the pu'u where it begins/ends. About 50 yards down the Malaekahana ridge is another double ribbon, which I put there when Wing and I went down Malaekahana in May '98. If not for these ribbons, one would be hard pressed to figure out which ridge to descend to get to Malaekahana. The swath from our May outing appears to have been swallowed up.

Yesterday, I continued clearing and marking the KST, stopping periodically to call out for Wing to make sure he was still with me. At 2:00, he caught up and I told him that we'd reached the point of no return. That is, it'd be Pupukea or bust. Turning back to Laie was out of the question. Wing agreed.

At 2:15, I saw Pat a couple hills away about a quarter mile from me. We exchanged yells and waves and by 2:30, we met up. Pat said the improved trail the gang had hacked open was still 45 minutes to an hour away. By 2:45, Wing had joined us and we headed Pupukea-bound as quickly as the guava-in-your-face trail would allow.

The improved trail was welcome and freeway-like in several places. But it still had to be hiked, and there's a good distance from where the improved trail began to the Pupukea summit lunchspot--an hour?. And, of course, there's the mud. :-)

My goal was to reach the dirt road before dark (got there at 5:45) and the end of Pupukea Road without having to use a flashlight (got there at 6:45, no flashllight required). On the way down the dirt road, Ken Suzuki, Carole Moon, and Arnold Fujioka came driving up in Ken's new SUV. I said I was okay, would walk out the rest of the way, and that Wing was behind and would probably welcome a lift.

By 7:15, we all were back to civilization and I received a brief, stern lecture from Mabel Kekina for coming out in the dark.

Mahalo to all the trail clearers for hammering open a good deal of the KST and for waiting till after dark for us, to Pat for hiking an hour on a bad trail to meet us, to Ken for driving up the dirt road to offer transport, and to Thomas Yoza for driving Wing and I back to our cars in Laie.

The KST isn't quite ready for a HTMC super hike, but for those who want to give it a go, by all means check it out. As Stuart says at several places in his book, "Be prepared to fall down and get muddy and wet." [:-)

For those thinking of doing the KST from Laie to Pupukea (or vice-versa), here is some info to ponder (distances are estimates):

Start point on Poohaili Street to Laie trail summit foxhole & Koolau summit trail, 6 miles (6 miles cumulative).

Laie summit to Malaekahana summit via the KST--.75 miles (6.75 miles cumulative).

Malaekahana summit to 1,860 pu'u used as lunchspot for HTMC's Pupukea summit hike via KST--3.25 miles, about half of this segment has been reopened by the HTMC (10 miles cumulative).

1,860 pu'u to junction with military dirt/gravel road--2 miles (12 miles cumulative).

Dirt gravel road to Pupukea Road end--3 miles (15 miles cumulative).

Notes: If starting from the Pupukea end, shaving 2 miles of road walking is possible if one can get the key to the gate by the Boy Scout camp at the end of Pupukea Road. The HTMC gets this key from the state DLNR when conducting trail maintenance.

The area on the leeward side of the KST between the 1,860 pu'u and the Laie summit is some of the most remote terrain on Oahu. The headwaters of Kamananui Stream, which eventually empties out into Waimea Bay, begins in this area. The Koolaus in this segment aren't cliffy or narrow. Mud and strawberry guava rule.

The KST in this area is now fairly well-ribboned and well-cleared in segments. Some overgrown parts remain.


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