OHE July 18, 1998

Date: Sat, 18 Jul 1998 19:29:59 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kalihi to Nuuanu hike

Pat and I were looking for a hike to do today. Option 1 was Kawiwi out Waianae way, but Steve Poor, the-man-who-would-conquer-Kawiwi, decided to go surfing, so that outing was scratched. Option 2 was Kahana to Waikane, but since that involves long road approaches going and coming (which I detest), el scratcho 2. Another option was to check with Wingo, who said he'd be doing Hawaii Loa (2 weeks in a row? Why, Wing?). Since HL didn't sound appealing, strike three it was.

But Paka and I were not to go hikeless. After some thought, I came up with a plan that would have us start in Kalihi by DeCorte Park and end in Nuuanu by the Oahu Country Club. Since much of the ground we'd cover would be new for either Pat or I, we decided to give this trip a go.

That decided, Pat and I met at the park off Pali Highway just mauka of the Queen Emma Summer Palace. Paka was driving a rent-a-wreck ($100 a week) since the Pat-mobile died (R.I.P.) last week (crapped-out timing belt). We left my vehicle at the park for post-hike transport and jumped in the rental, headed for DeCorte Park in lower Kalihi Valley (Perry Street, for those thinking of doing the hike).

The good news was that DeCorte was free of youth gang members when we arrived (the place was loaded with them the last time I visited on a weekday afternoon). So after gearing up, we hit the trail, launching at 10:10.

The trail begins on the slope at the makai end of the basketball court, and in a couple minutes we had gained the crest of the ridge, heading mauka on it. The ridge has plenty of ironwood trees, which aren't too troublesome to push through and offer plenty of shade as well. And the trail was distinct and obviously sees some traffic, since someone made a point of tearing off all the ribbons I had put up the last time I hiked the trail a couple months ago.

At points along the ridge, we had views of Kamanaiki Valley and ridge to our left. We also passed some interesting rock formations, one which is mentioned in *Sites of Oahu*, and a makeshift shelter made of ironwood branches. There are also some huge eucalyptus and pine trees, some with the girth of three or four telephone poles tied together. Paka has a particular affinity for paperbark trees, caressing their trunks with a fervor only he can explain.

The climbing was steady, and since it was warm, with temps in the mid- to upper-80s, I dripped and puffed during a good portion of the ascent. Pat, on the other hand, cruised along with seemingly minimal effort despite hiking without his trademark cleated Nike shoes. But the climbing was honest, with no big dips or overly steep slopes, and in 80 minutes we had reached the junction with the Kapalama Loop Trail. Actually, this junction is obscure, and I put up a pink ribbon at the spot for future reference, since Pat and I may decide to ask permission to use this route as a HTMC Super Hike (DeCorte to Lanihuli to Nuuanu).

The Loop Trail is in good shape, having been cleared a few months ago by volunteers from the HTMC and students from Kamehameha's outdoor club. Along the way, Paka and I passed the ruins of a cabin on the right, and a few nice spots with views left toward Kamanaiki and the Waianae Range in the distance. Several ohia trees we saw were puffed with red blossoms. Beautiful.

About a half hour after gaining the Kapalama Trail, we reached the high point of the loop. On the ground at the junction, I found an old wooden sign that said "2 miles -->". While I propped up the sign in a tree, Pat admired a couple of fan palm trees nearby (Pat does love his trees). It was noon when we arrived, so we decided lunch was in order (sushi for me, fruits for Paka).

At 12:30, having completed our rest/lunch break, we saddled up and headed down the Nuuanu side of the Kapalama Loop. There's a bamboo grove just downslope of the junction, and Pat grabbed a length of bamboo, trying unsuccessfully to fashion a nose flute from it.

After descending through uluhe to a saddle in the ridge, we began climbing to Napu'umai'a (lit. "the banana hill"). Napu'umai'a (elev. 1870 ft.) is the terminus of a ridge called Kekoalele (lit. "jumping warrior"), which originates in Nuuanu Valley by the Oahu Country Club. Our plan was to go down Kekoalele and finish up at the park in Nuuanu where I had staged my vehicle.

Neither of us had ever hiked Kekoalele (~1.7 miles by the topo map), but a club vet told us HTMC members used to traverse the ridge on scheduled outings years ago. That being the case, we knew the ridge was do-able, but had it been done recently? Was there still a hikeable trail on it? Would a rope be needed (I had packed a coil just in case)?

As we climbed Napu'umai'a, I advised Pat to keep an eye out for a trail heading downslope on the Nuuanu side. Just before topping out on the pu'u, we spotted a faint swath on the left, and uluhe-bashing we went, with Paka, the renowned speed hiker, in the lead.

After five minutes of wading through trackless uluhe, we stumbled on a distinct trail heading downridge. Shouts of relief ensued. While Pat pressed on, I backtracked a short distance to the crest of Napu'umai'a on the trail we found to put up a couple ribbons at the junction with Kapalama, again for future reference.

As it turns out, someone has been hiking Kekoalele, probably hunters, since a discernible trail sits atop it all the way down to Nuuanu. And the ridge is a joy to hike, being shaded most of the way and having several nice view spots where we could admire massive Lanihuli, the twin humps of Konahuanui, Mo'ole Valley, the huge pine grove where the Nuuanu-Judd trail is, and Nuuanu Valley at large.

And there are plenty of non-dangerous dike sections on the ridge, some which had us playfully yelling out "Kalena!!" as we moved across them. And, no, ropes aren't needed anywhere along the way. There are lots of pig trails contouring along and down the ridgeside slopes. I was sure we'd spot pua'a today, but no boars were seen. What we did see were a couple of abandoned beer bottles, several survey pipes in the ground, a few old ribbons, a couple of plant pots, a discarded tent, a reservoir just off of Pali Highway, Ralph Valentino's house in Nuuanu (we yelled for Ralph--no answer), another ritzy place directly below us that Pat referred to as "the crib," and the well-manicured greens and fairways of the Oahu Country Club.

The ridge bottoms out behind the reservoir and adjacent to a maintenance garage of the golf course. The trail becomes obscure in a jumbled forest section at the end and there are no ribbons to mark the way (we would have put some up but ran out). After circling about for a while, and nearly stumbling on a booby trap set for a pig, we found our way out to Country Club Road, which led to Pali Highway, which we crossed to reach my vehicle at the community park by Queen Emma's Palace.

End time of the hike was 2:30. Total time on the trail--4 hours, 20 minutes. Our possible HTMC Super Hike proposal: ascend DeCorte Ridge to Kapalama (~1.5 hours) and continue to Pu'u Lanihuli (~2.5 hours). >From Lanihuli, backtrack and then descend Kekoalele to Nuuanu Valley (~4 hours). Add a half hour for lunch and the outing will take 8 to 9 hours.

Hopefully, we'll receive the green light.


Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle