OHE January 25, 1999 (Pauoa Woods)

Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 22:01:04 -1000
From: Kirby D Young (kirby.young@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: Pauoa Woods Hike with HTMC - 24Jan99

Decided at the last moment to take a break from home stuff to check out the Pauoa Woods hike with HTMC this past Sunday. The weather looked okay from my Ala Wai vantage point, which just means that no one will ever rely on me for a weather prediction because, in fact, it rained the entire time! The upside (???) was getting to see Pauoa Stream as a rushing chocolate torrent.

There were a lot of people signed up for this hike (20-25), all with rain jackets on at the trailhead except me. The leader, John Hoover, split the group in two, with one group following Mike Algiers (sp?) on a slightly longer way that would include a trip to Nuuanu Lookout, and a traverse back on a ridgetop trail to join Nuuanu Trail and the route of the other group. I joined the Nuuanu Lookout group as they headed out at 8:51 from Tantalus Drive along the Manoa Cliffs Trail.

A steady sound of pig squealing wafted up from Pauoa Valley after about 1/2 mile. One side ridge later I noticed a trail coming up from the left that would serve as the return route out of Pauoa Valley. Some minutes later via the Kalawahine Trail we made the cutoff to Pauoa Flats. A blue-ribboned trail came up from the left near the head of Pauoa Valley. Reaching Pauoa Flats a short distance later, a wide trail came in from the left. A short distance later, another wide trail came in from the left (Nuuanu Trail). A short distance later, the trail to Manoa Falls angled in from the right. Jeez, there are a lot of trails in this area (there's also a trail coming down from Tantalus which I failed to notice).

At Nuuanu Overlook, there were Koolau summit-like conditions of fog, rain, and wind. Reversing direction, I followed the group onto the ridgetop trail heading makai, and commenced several roller-coaster ups and downs. In a few places there was exposure to the right with steep slopes and, in one place, a landslide scar descending into Nuuanu Valley. There was never more than a view of the base of the slope, however, as the rain and clouds hung with us.

After about 20 minutes, a strong dip in the ridge brought the ridgetop trail down to join with the Nuuanu Trail contouring on the left. I met up with several of the John Hoover hiking group as I traversed along the Nuuanu Trail in the next 10-15 minutes.

Where the Nuuanu Trail reverses direction to begin switchbacking down off the ridge into Nuuanu Valley, our route for the day was to continue straight, heading makai, on an ungraded path along the ridge top. I came upon a large group of our hikers pondering the slippery ups and mostly downs of the trail early on in this section. Pressing on, I maintained loose contact with a fast-walking young couple.

After a bit I asked the couple if they were familiar with the route. Nope! Hmm. As we had extended ourselves out in front of the trip leaders while letting several others get far ahead of us, it was HTMC ribbon spotting time. This would not be a problem, except John had noted that sometimes the ribbons get removed by hunters or others. As it turned out, it seemed no pink ribbons were missing and it _was_ easy to follow the correct route, thanks to the efforts of the HTMC trail maintenance crew.

The trail descended the ridge almost to the residences of Pacific Heights, but before reaching the latter, contoured left to an abrupt switchback marked by pink ribbons and a convention center chair. Here the trail angled steeply down in a mauka direction as it descended into Pauoa Valley. With the constant rain, this section was amazingly slippery. Encountering a water supply pipe contouring along the hillside, the trail then followed this civilized feature mauka until the valley bottom rose up to about the pipe's elevation.

Veering right from the pipe, I followed pink ribbons through valley-bottom forest to a first crossing of Pauoa Stream. Whoa! Chocolate brown waters roared past and over a small dam. The young couple had already crossed and said it wasn't too bad. Using a bent bamboo for balance I stepped in - nearly up to my knees - and forded the 6 ft channel.

Passing a water tank on the opposite bank, I wondered if there would be many more crossings. No kidding! There were at least six of them. Most were a little tricky in requiring good balance to keep from falling over in the strong currents. The deepest crossing was about 2 ft, and a little care was always required to keep the current from bowling me over.

Following the last crossing to the left bank, the trail came to an abrupt bamboo-covered slope filling the bottom of the valley. First following the cascading main stream to the right, the trail eventually surmounted the top of this rubbly bamboo-forested slope, which is the front of a lava flow that choked Pauoa Valley following its eruption from Tantalus as little as 10,000 years ago. This lava flow also ponded at the head of the valley to form the topographically level Pauoa Flats.

The trail from a mid-valley summit of sorts took a sudden turn right and down a very steep slope for one more crossing of Pauoa Stream. The trail descended as a shallow channel of rapidly flowing water. At the base of this slippery track I discovered why the trail had ascended the steep face of the old lava flow. Here Pauoa Stream dropped over a precipice, forming a 70-ft high chocolate cascade of water. A second cascade from a large side stream poured over the edge a little further on.

Crossing in water up to my knee just a few feet behind the precipice, I then negotiated the sidestream crossing and ascended the steep right bank. A blue-ribboned trail led left up the valley. I turned right and followed an ascending contour trail makai. It quickly leveled off, and I wondered about its destination. This would remain a secret, however, as pink ribbons directed me left onto a trail heading straight up a side ridge. In a few minutes I was back on the Manoa Cliffs Trail. Ten minutes later and about 3:10 after starting, I was back at my car on Tantalus Drive, where it stopped raining (at least for a short while).

Hopefully all the hikers on the outing safely negotiated the slippery slopes and forded the high waters on this day.


Reply From: FRED R BOLL (frbinc@juno.com>

Myself, another Fred and my wife also took the longer route and were about 20 minutes or so behind you. We caught John and the short hike group at the chair that you mentioned. The stream must have risen some in that time because, on the deepest crossing it was just short of my wife's waist.

We met Mike shortly before the junction with Manoa Cliffs Trail. He was on his way back to put a rope across the last stream crossing where there was a waterfall that could be dangerous. We all told him to go see if John needed help because a lady in his group was having a very difficult time. I hope John made it OK and must express appreciation for people like him, who volunteer for hike leader duty.


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