OHE January 18, 1999 (Pe'ahinai'a)

Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 11:32:10 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Pe'ahinai'a

Pat Rorie, Kim Roy, and I plowed forward on this isolated, seldom-used trail this past Saturday (1/16) and what follows is a report of how it went.

Over the weekend, we were camping at Palama Uka with a bunch of other folks and made the hour-plus walk on dirt roads and part of the Opaeula Trail to get to the Pe'ahinai'a trailhead from the camp. Bill Melemai, Mark Short, and Mark's son, Jacob, also accompanied us partway.

The trailhead sits at the mauka terminus of Twin Bridge Road, a dirt thoroughfare that commences near Weed Circle in Haleiwa and ascends for eight miles through cane fields and the Koolau foothills until reaching its end at Pu'u Pe'ahinai'a (elev. 1,623).

Along Twin Bridge Road, the topo map makes reference to a structure called Bryan's Mountain House and if such a home site existed, we saw no sign of it during our hike to the trailhead. At a junction, there is an old, weathered sign that says "Bryan's Mountain." I recall hearing a story that a man with the surname Bryan had a house at the upper part of Twin Bridge Road, and the house was the site of gambling and drinking parties for sugar workers in the early days of the industry on Oahu. I've never confirmed the veracity of that story.

In addition to the sign, we passed some recently-placed instruments (weather gages?) affixed to an old telephone pole, an old concrete bunker on the left, and several porta-potty stocked areas the military uses for staging troops and equipment during training. About ten minutes before the trailhead, there is a gate (open and unlocked). There was also a recent set of 4x4 tire tracks leading to the road's end, probably from the vehicle of hunter.

We reached the trailhead at 10:30 and bid farewell to Bill, who didn't continue further with us because he had plans to attend his son's basketball game in town in the early afternoon. Mark and Jacob hiked the trail for a bit and then headed back after the overgrown conditions (uluhe mostly) made the going difficult for Jacob, who's just 10. That left Pat, Kim, and I to plunge forward to see what we could see and go as far as we could go. We set a turnaround time of 1:30.

After hearing reports about Pe'ahinai'a from Wing and Reuben Mateo, I was expecting severely overgrown conditions and at some point a complete disappearance of the trail. Surprisingly, we didn't have problems finding the path since hunters and military personnel seem to use the route on occasion. Whether they proceed all the way to the summit is another question, but as far as we went on Saturday, we had a discernible trail to work with marked with periodic blue ribbons and strewn with occasional MRE trash and hunters' trademark cans in trees.

From certain sections of the trail, we had clear views to the left down to Opaeula Stream which was flowing with decent force because of overnight rains upslope. We even passed a junction with a faint trail that descended a sideridge to the stream. Beyond the stream to the north lay a series of ridges and valleys, including Kawaiiki, Kawainui, and Kawailoa.

With Pat in the lead, we made steady progress along the rolling rollercoaster route. We had machetes drawn and used them to do some clearing as we hiked. At two points, the trail traversed broad uluhe-choked hilltops where we experienced some confusion about which way to head. At the first of these broad pu'u, Kim came upon a fenced area which we thought might be there to keep pigs away from some rare flora. We placed many pink ribbons along the route we followed.

To our relief, we didn't have to negotiate any major landslides or tree blowdowns. And I can't recall any major mud bogs or overly slippery slopes. Fortunately, Saturday was a great hiking day, with clear skies and steady trails prevailing.

The native vegetation we passed was healthy and in good number. Clidemia, however, has made significant inroads and we waded through oceans of this stuff at several saddle areas between hilltops. I kept on the lookout for tree snails, paying closer attention to the kinds of trees (kopiko, for one) I'd spotted snails in on other trails. I didn't find any snails, though.

We also didn't find any signs of pigs. Reuben Mateo, the person we know of who's hiked Pe'ahinai'a most recently, told us he saw many pua'a during his trip halfway up the ridge. As a result of Reuben's report, we were anticipating a porker encounter but saw no pigs nor hoofprints/rootings all day.

At just past noon, we stopped for lunch at three-pepsi-cans pu'u, so named for the soft drink cans hunters or whoever placed in branches of trees there. There is also a good-sized koa tree atop the pu'u, and we found comfortable spots to sit amongst the tree's roots. The two Taco Bell bean burritos I'd packed for lunch brought on some reinvigorating energy and also prompted Pat and Kim to remark they'd best stay in front of me after lunch in case the beans rendered their well-known after effects.

At 12:45, Kim decided to head back. Meanwhile, Pat and I continued upridge with a planned turnaround time of 1:30. Beyond three-cans pu'u, the trail was no different than what we'd already hiked. The Koolau summit was still far off when 1:30 rolled around. As best as I can tell from what I recall and from a post-hike topo map review, I'd estimate we covered about two miles on Saturday, about a third of the six-mile (aprox.) length of the trail. From where we stopped, Pat and I needed two hours to return to the trailhead. We continued to do some spot clearing during this span.

During the road walk back to Palama Uka, Pat and I discussed a return to Pe'ahinai'a, perhaps this summer, to see the trail to its end at the Koolau summit at a junction with the KST. The terminus of the Poamoho trail is about an hour away from this junction, and we'll certainly use Poamoho as a descent route instead of heading back down Pe'ahinai'a, if an when we ever hike the trail all the way. We also will certainly bring provisions for a night out since it's possible the trail may fizzle into oblivion and the going get slow.

As it is, we're pleased we were able to make such good headway for the first third of the route. Going all the way may take six to ten hours.


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