OHE January 12, 1999 (wailupe middle)

Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 20:43:54 -1000 From: "Kirby D. Young" (kirbyd@teleport.com> Subject: Wailupe Middle Ridge - Dec. 6 1998

Here's a delayed report. I did this hike Dec 6, 1998.

Feeling the need for a strenuous hike that wouldn't take up a whole day, I selected this eastern Oahu loop hike, aka Aina Haina middle ridge, using OHE directions (see Wing Ng, Art Neilson posts 8/97, Dayle Turner 8/97, 5/98) - many thanks to them for their accurate and detailed descriptions! My route plan was the HTMC Wailupe Loop: Ascend the central middle ridge, turn left to traverse the Koolau crest for about 1/2 mile, descend Wiliwilinui Ridge to a cutoff trail, descend the latter into Wailupe Valley and its Valley trail, and complete the loop in returning to my starting point.

I began my journey about 11:15 AM from the end of Hao Street in Aina Haina. The Koolau summit was severely socked in, and I entertained only meager hopes of windward views. The route begins on the grassy double track of an old jeep road with expansive views of Wailupe valley. Wiliwilinui Ridge on my left rapidly changed from the dryland vegetation directly above me to wetter, forested slopes a bit further on.

As the trail dipped, I passed some teens hanging out in some trees to my right. Gradually ascending through spots of high grass, the path then angled left away from the creek, and entered an extensive hau thicket clinging to gentle slopes. About ten minutes from the car an obvious opening on the right alerted me to a critical trail junction marked by a red cloth tied like a ribbon and a large boulder. Veering from the main valley trail, I followed the narrow side trail down a small gully and eventually across a main stream near the toe of my Middle Ridge destination. Two Japanese hikers with walking staffs passed me going the opposite direction here. They stopped their animated conversation long enough to admonish me for hiking alone.

From the stream, the trail more or less directly ascended onto the steep nose of Middle Ridge. The last 10 yards to get to the ridgetop were relatively steep, and a rope was strung here for assistance. Tied to a tree next to the rope was a ziploc bag with a note and a dollar bill!

The note read:

"Sept. 13, 1998
I appreciate it for your kindness, you donate this expensive rope and
installed it at this dangerous place for hiker's safety . Thank you
again. ...From one hiker"

The dollar remains 3 months later!

Once on the crest of the Middle Ridge, the trail turns a sharp left to follow it upwards. A bright neon blue rope lay here. Beyond lay numerous steep ascents broken by short level stretches for much of the ridge traverse to the summit of the Koolaus. Clouds and strong tradewinds, however, kept me from overheating.

Relatively early on I crossed the blocky rubble of a dike*. It did not project up or look terribly distinguished, but the building block weathering of this rock gave its origin away. It accompanied me as a very low outcrop just off the ridgetop on my right, then crossed my path as the ridgeline curved right, before vanishing into the murk of guava forest.

Entered the uluhe/clidemia(!#*) zone at about 1600 ft, and soon after came to a short roller-coaster stretch where I could see the final steep pitch of the ridge ascend into the clouds. The westernmost middle ridge of Wailupe Valley, "Laulaupoe" (see J. Brandon Stone OHE post, 12/9/98) also entered the cloud layer on my left. Reaching the base of the climactic 400' incline in fog, I looked up and saw a long rope dangling down along the trail crevice. Next to this rope was another ziploc bag. In this bag there was yet another note. It had the same message as that previously encountered, but contained no accompanying dollar bill...

I too found the rope (actually 2) quite helpful, and so enjoyed the arm-assisted "ride" up this very steep section that brought me in very short order to the junction of Middle Ridge and that of "Laulaupoe" ridge. Here I was surprised to see a trail descending the latter. It looked recently cleared and was marked with a pink ribbon. Above the jct. was a pink ribbon/red cloth combination. Based on J. Brandon Stone's description of similar trail markings at the base of Laulaupoe, it seems very likely the trail has been cleared straight through on this ridge.

Making a 180 deg. turn from my view down foggy "Laulaupoe" ridge, I walked the last 100-200 yds of gently inclined ridge to the Ko'olau summit. Here I found a broad area hacked clear engulfed in dense fog and occasional rain for a view. It had taken me 2.5 hrs to reach this point from the car. After downing my version of lunch (pb&j+apple banana), I checked the summit route towards Hawaiiloa. It looked very overgrown, or I was not seeing the correct way off my hill. I then turned towards Wiliwilinui, and thankfully found the summit path going my way a bit more traveled. It took 25 minutes for me to reach the Wiliwilinui terminus, as fog and rain angled upwards past me in the strong tradewinds. Lovely, lovely.

At Wiliwilinui, a folded plastic lawnchair awaited on a plywood board. Without a view, I didn't bother with it, and turned left onto Wiliwilinui Trail to begin my descent. What a wide trail! It was a shocking contrast to the last 30 minutes. Passed a communications facility, then plunged with the ridge steeply down, emerging from the clouds near the base of this badly eroded trail section. I had views again! Dark clouds rushing overhead contrasted with the late afternoon bright reflection off the ocean in the distance. The cloud bases scraped along at about 1500' elevation.

Gentle ups and downs in the ridge brought me to the terminus of a jeep "road", where a narrow Na Ala Hele Wiliwilinui Trail sign has been placed. Keeping the OHE trail directions in mind, I continued on this surprisingly slippery vehicle track makai maybe another 15-20 minutes before arriving at a critical junction with a trail descending steeply to Wailupe Valley on my left. The junction was marked by pink and pink/black ribbons (as described), and lay at the base of a long downhill segment in the road, but before it the road then curves right. I entered guava forest on a fairly distinct track. About 10 yards later, the route plunged over the lip of the ridge for the steep descent in 1/2 mile to the bottom. Along the way I saw the blocky rubble of yet another dike* crossing my path.

At the bottom I turned right on the Valley trail, following it maybe 10 minutes to where I had first turned off, thus officially completing a Wailupe loop. A few minutes later I arrived at my car. All told, it was a total trip time of about 5 hours.

*Geology Notes: The dikes I saw apparently formed along a poorly-defined south rift zone of the extinct Ko'olau volcano.+ Hawaiian shield volcanoes in general develop one or two _pronounced_ rift zones extending from their summits. For example, Kilauea has an East and SW rift zone, while Mauna Loa has SW and NE rift zones. For Ko'olau volcano, the NW rift zone was by far the most prominent (Ohulehule...), with a lesser E rift zone. Some of the Hawaiian shields, however, develop a far less obvious _third_ radiating rift zone. Mauna Loa, for example, has a NW rift zone of sorts pointed at Hualalai. Dikes seen around Wailupe Valley reveal that Ko'olau volcano also had a third rift zone.


References: +Macdonald, G.A., and Abbott, A.T., 1970, Volcanoes in the Sea - The Geology of Hawaii, 1st Edition, U. HI Press.

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