OHE July 20, 1998

Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 08:08:50 -1000
From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" (802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us>
Subject: hau'ula papali/ohe

Last Saturday, July 18, Chris ("Kipper") Walker (the video wizard behind the local cable show, "Let's Go Hiking) and I finished our goal of re-opening the trail that links the Hau'ula Papali Loop Trail to the Pu'u Kamapua'a Trail. I'll refer to the route we took as the Papali Ridge Trail. Our first try on May 2 of this year got us about halfway to the Papali Ridge/Kamapua'a Trail junction. On Saturday we made it all the way.

We started at 9am from Hau'ula Homestead Road, passed the new, massive Board of Water Supply road and retaining wall project at the head of the trail and turned left onto the well-marked Papali Loop. We ascended all twelve switchbacks, ignoring the Na Ala Hele arrow at about the sixth switchback that directs hikers to the left, in a clockwise direction. Going counterclockwise gets you to the top of the loop quicker, so that's what we did. Progressing up the ridge from the top of the switchbacks, we soon arrived at the high point of the loop.

There, we left the loop behind and pressed on up the ridge through Formosan koa and Christmas berry, always staying on the ridgeback. The trail is distinct, but not cleared wide. There is still plenty of work required to completely clear the trail, but at least it's passable now. It looks as though no one else has been through there in years. (Wing says it was cleared around 1995 during the search for Wade Johnson.) Our markers are orange in the lower parts and pink higher up.

The trail gradually enters 'ohia and uluhe territory, and offers great views down into Ma'akua Gulch. It took us about two and one-half hours this time to get from our car to the farthest point that we had reached in May. From then on, we had to plough through passionfruit vines, uluhe, maile, and assorted other leg-grabbers. Ma'akua Gulch is always on the right during the ascent. On the left is Papali Gulch, a small valley which becomes extremely narrow and eventually peters out. At the head of that valley, as we neared the Kamapua'a junction, our trail veered to the left and up a small bowl. It then passed by a junction with the ridge that descended between Papali Gulch and Punaiki Gulch (no trail visible down that ridge) and continued across to the junction with the Pu'u Kamapua'a Trail. We saw an occasional faded marker or cut branch, but the trail was otherwise indiscernable and completely overgrown. After ninety minutes of working our way through new territory on Saturday, at 1 pm, we reached the junction with the Pu'u Kamapua'a Trail. Makai down that trail lay the Nipple and mauka were the Castle Trail junction and the Summit Trail junction. Kipper and I continued up to a nearby knoll for lunch. Gazing at the summit, we talked about returning in order to camp far above.

Papali Ridge is quite narrow most of the way, sometimes diminishing to only a foot or two in width. However, there is almost always a great deal of surrounding vegetation to provide a sense of security. The worst part for us was not being able to see where we were stepping; we had to poke carefully into the uluhe to ensure that we were on solid ground. Occasionally we could see daylight coming through the uluhe 'carper' right beside us--not a comfort, considering that Ma'akua Gulch was very far below. There are a few steep spots and a couple of significant dips, but, for the most part, the trail continues steadily upwards from near sea level to about 2080 ft. at the Kamapua'a junction.

We descended the way we came, continuing to clear as we went, and it took us about three hours to get down. It was 5 pm when we arrived at our car.

Brandon Stone

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