OHE July 15, 1997

Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us) reports:

On Sunday, July 13, parked on Hui Iwa which borders Temple Valley Shopping Center at 10 a.m.

Crossed Kahekili, walked along short stone wall in Temple Valley Cemetary, and entered forest along faint trail. Picked up main trail (noticed freshly cut veg) at 10:15. After a couple of ups and downs stopped for a rest and enjoyed views of Kaneohe Bay and Olomana's "horns".

Moving on I came to a junction. Went to the left and down first but when I noticed that the trail continued to descend I doubled back and continued to ascend until I arrived at powerline towers. The cleared trail ended here so I stopped again for another brief rest.

The views were excellent. The back of Haiku Plantation with its abundant flora really stood out. Put my glasses on, looked across at the ridge which separates Haiku Valley and the back of Haiku Plantation and barely made out the other set of Haiku Stairs which Laredo and I had come down on January 5 of this year. They come to an abrupt end just before the ridge drops off steeply. To the north Ohulehule was in the distance and Temple Valley Cem below.

I contined up toward the Ko'olaus. There was a faint trail and the ridge got narrow but was certainly do-able. After reaching a slippery rock outcrop I decided to turn back.

When I reached the powerline towers I looked at Ohulehule again, noticed only one cloud above her summit and that it was almost past. The time was approx. 11:25. Had a basic decision to make - find trail clearing crew or ascend my favorite mountain. I chose the latter booking down the ridge and reaching the car at 11:55. Purchased a 20 oz. Dr. Pepper from the gas station nearby then drove to Kahana Valley State Park.

Arrived just outside new community at 12:20. Got organized including testing of cell phone, grabbed rope. Set off at 12:28 and arrived at trail head at 12:39. On the way up the final stretch of paved road beyond the locked gate I passed some hikers. Little did I know that they were HTMC'ers. We exchanged greetings and went our separate ways. After signing in at the hunter-hiker mailbox (just in case something happened the authorities would know I had come this way and at what time) I went left and descended to the dam. More hikers were crossing so I quickly slid into the water to the right of them. The water level reached the top of my pants but it felt very refreshing. Scrambling out of the stream and past them I went left.

After another left I crossed another stream. I was in such a big hurry that I missed a key junction which takes you to a place on the trail where you must cross the stream again. When I realized this I thought that I was on the wrong trail and that I would have to double back costing valuable time. I took a chance and kept moving forward. Somehow I ended up at the correct location.

Emerged from the forest and turned left at another key junction at 1 p.m. After a brief descent crossed yet another stream and ascended thru bamboo forest. Slipped because of mud (should realign trail at this point to make it switchback). It was 1:07.

At 1:14 reached a metal pole underneath a tall tree. Stopped for a short rest. Turning left worked thru solid uluhe ascending gradually toward forested ridge. Entered forest and soon after angle of ascent began to increase. Because of variable winds there was very little breeze. Progress was pitifully slow (had to stop several times) as fatigue started to set in. Noticed the rock structure on a ridge to the right (ancient Hawaiian?). At 1:45 ascended steeply toward saddle. The views of Kahana Valley behind and Kaaawa Valley to the left were excellent.

Reached the saddle at 2 p.m. Drank what remained of my first liter. Looked around enjoying the sights esp. of massive Pu'u Kaaumakua (approx. elev. 2400 ft) of the Ko'olaus above the true Waikane Saddle. It looked bloated as it juted out from the sheer wall. Also visible were Pu'u Koiele (elev. 1683 ft) dead ahead and Pu'u O'Kila (elev. 1530 ft) to the right. Hats off to the HTMC old timers who used to climb Ohulehule from the true Waikane Saddle over Koiele.

Just before I continued up the ridge I saw a fire rescue heli fly down into Kahana Valley. For Wing this would have been an omen but for me no big deal. I did test my cell-phone again however.

Pressing on at 2:07 the trail was overgrown but passable. I began tying ribbon on trees periodically but not too close to the saddle lest someone on a future HTMC hike see it and continue up the ridge. At 2:14 I passed a massive landslide to the left.

At 2:20 reached first cable section. The next 40 feet were very slow going. With the exception of the cable which becomes a thin wire and clidemia there is nothing else to hang on to. Ascending very steeply using the cable at first and then the wire with my right hand and clidemia with my left I headed up this difficult section. One of the best sections of trail on the island. No doubt. My footing was not very stable to say the least because of loose rock and mud. When I reached the end of the wire I could see the next cable which is tan in color but could not reach it! I had forgotten how steep this section was as well (sheesh !). Very carefully I grabbed some solid tree limbs and pulled myself up while gently pushing with my feet. Shortly thereafter I reached the next cable and breathed a sigh of relief ! The time was 2:29.

Continuing up the side of the mountain the angle of ascent decreased somewhat. Phew ! At 2:41 the trail finally levelled off considerably and the summit was in sight. Because of the variable winds the top of Ohulehule was completely cloudless. The sun came out several times lighting up the area nicely.

Stopped briefly to enjoy the incredible vistas. The Ko'olaus were free of clouds from Kipapa Ridge Summit (elev. 2786 ft) past Schofield and almost to Poamoho. Waikane Valley with its lush vegetation was directly below.

As I made my way toward the summit I continued tying ribbons to trees. The trail was badly overgrown with uluhe and young clidemia at this point. I did not have time to clear so I pushed thru. There was little if any breeze. Studying the summit just before reaching it I suddenly realized much to my surprise and delight that the clidemia was dying. It was only about 4 feet high, leafless and greyish white in color. The first time I reached the summit of Ohulehule on 2/22/97 there was a clidemia forest most of which was 10 feet tall !

At 3:05 reached the summit of Pu'u Ohulehule (elev. 2265 ft). The vegetation had grown back quite a bit since Laredo and I paid a visit on 3/22.

I had two hours to work with. 1 hour would be for improving the condition of the summit the other for descending the southeast ridge. Took out my hand held cutters and began cutting some of the dying clidemia. Worked my way to the view spots Laredo and I had created and reestablished them. First the Kahana Valley view spot. Next the Kaaawa Valley, Chinaman's Hat, Hakipuu Valley view spot and finally the view spot toward the east which allows for views of Kaneohe Bay, the Mokulua Islands, Olomana, and the Ko'olau Mountain Range. Could also see the summit of Mt. Ka'ala !

I looked for the old southeast ridge trail which Laredo and I had discovered during our previous visit. We did not go down it because there was so much work to do on the summit. I wish we had because I could find no trace of the old trail on this visit. I took a guess and cut my way down for a short distance but the dying clidemia was too difficult to get thru. Perhaps if I had brought some real long pants instead of my thin golf pants I could have descended further.

Used the remainder of the two hours to enjoy the views and perform trail maintenance.

Clouds began to engulf the Ko'olaus after 4 p.m. and I remembered the weather report predicting heavy rain that afternoon so at 4:38 I began to slowly descend. Tied more ribbon on trees going down. The descent esp. past the cable sections didn't seem as scarey as on the way up. Noticed a grove of tall loulu to the right of the trail as you descend.

Reached the saddle at 5:45 and sat down for a rest. Finished final liter of orange juice and enjoyed the view toward the Ko'olaus and toward the ocean thru Kaaawa Valley. The waves breaking off of the Kaaawa coast with the deep blue Pacific Ocean behind them were wonderful. Also noticed the half moon above the summit of Ohulehule.

At 6:02 continued gradual descent toward Kahana Valley below. Had to remind myself not to let my guard down esp. after slipping on some mud and landing on my okole. Emerged from forest as the trail descended gradually thru lovely Kahana Valley.

Just before reaching the bamboo forest and the stream crossing below it I stopped for a breather. The sound of the gentle stream was very soothing. A wealth of beautiful trees went along the stream on both sides and more could be seen along the side of a ridge not far away. Behind all of this towered Ohulehule only now beginning to get socked in at its summit !

About half way thru the bamboo forest I slipped on the muddy trail and landed on my okole again. Definately need to seriously consider putting some switchbacks in this area.

After a brief climb and a right turn I continued on and entered another forest. Descended gradually and crossed the stream I had somehow bypassed earlier in the day. I reached the hunter-hiker mailbox at 7:20 and recorded my time-out. Also put a short note next to my entry "Reached the summit of Ohulehule ! Yes !".

When I reached the small community nearby which has several homes still under construction I encountered two precious keikis. The first had a smile on her face as she played with her jump rope. The other girl noticed my wounds and asked if I was injured. I told her I was only scraped. Just before I got to my car two more residents spoke with me. The man asked if the dark green car just beyond the gate was mine. The first thing that went thru my mind was auto break-in. He brought my worries to an end when he told me that he was going to call the authorities to report a lost hiker if it wasn't. Mahalo for their aloha and concern.

Reached the car at 7:35 and departed soon after.

Notes: "Pu'u Ohulehule is the craggy peak which dominates the windward coast from Kahalu'u to Punalu'u. It stands alone, being only loosely connected to the Ko'olau summit ridge. Radiating from its slopes are 4 undeveloped valleys, Kahana, Ka'a'awa, Hakipu'u and Waikane. Ohulehule is a classic mountain, beautiful but dangerous."* The climb to its summit from the saddle is one of the most hazardous on the island. Take a look at the last page of photo section in Ball's fantastic first book for photos of this majestic mountain.

In yesterday's advertiser there was an article under POLICE BEAT page B2 regarding an injured hiker who was airlifted out of Kahana Valley on Sunday.


* Ball Jr., Stuart M. THE HIKER'S GUIDE TO O'AHU. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1993.


On Tue, 15 Jul 1997 Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net) added:

Wonderful narrative, Psycho!

Let me give you some more raw meat to chew on: at the top end of the cables, that's where my lunch fell off and I sat forlornly for 15 minutes without going on to the true top, there is a trail following a side ridge into Waikane Valley. In the old days HTMC would go up from the S.E. ridge and then descend down this ridge (guess would be the S.W. ridge, following K2 terminology :) ). Stuart Ball did this long time ago, and claims that it is easier than the S.E. ridge.

There is yet another ridge, kind of the East ridge. Dick Schmidt made some boasts about that, but upon closer questioning, never did admit one way or another whether he ever made it to the top that way. Looks even more awesome than the S.E. ridge. Should try it some day :)

_After_ you finish off Puu Piei :) :)


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