OHE July 27, 1998

Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 08:43:30 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Keahiakahoe TM

Mabel Kekina, Kost and Gina Pankiwskyj, Ken Suzuki, Grant Oka, Georgina Oka, Dusty Klein, Carole K. Moon, Lester Ohara, Nathan Yuen, Bill Gorst, Jay Feldman, Lynn Agena, June Miyasato, Lita Komura, Charlotte Yamane, Bill Jarrell, Alton Arakaki, Pat Rorie, Dave Sanford, Jason Sunada, Arnold Fujioka, Herman ?, and I (24 in all) were in attendance for yesterday's Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club maintenance outing of the 11-mile Keahiakahoe loop.

About half of the loop involves walking on the dirt road in Moanalua Valley, but the trail portion makes up for the tedium with some great hiking, including one of the best ridge sections on Oahu. The usual route involves ascending the powerline trail to Tripler Ridge. However, yesterday we tried a different way that gains Tripler about 10-15 minutes below the usual topping out spot of the powerline trail.

Apparently, yesterday's route, which begins in a ginger patch at the back of the turnaround clearing at dirt road's end, is used occasionally by hunters, including a couple of guys we ran into a couple years ago during a maintenance outing for Tripler who called the ridge their "secret trail."

Well, it's a secret no more, with two dozen folks going up it yesterday and perhaps the same number doing so in a couple weeks during the members-only club outing led by Dave Sanford. Pat and Grant championed the continued use of the powerline trail, and perhaps next year the club will resume using it as the route of choice for the loop.

Anyway, the new hunter's ridge needed little work since Charlotte, Bill, and Mabel had explored and worked on it a week prior. Tripler was also in good shape and we were able to hike to its terminus without having to do much. It was clouded-in during a good portion of the crest crossover but the white stuff dissipated later, allowing for beautiful views of Kaneohe, Kaneohe Bay, and beyond to Kailua and Waimanalo.

There's a nice variety of native plants along the summit, including a healthy lobelia specimen right along the trail swath. As is usually the case, the wind snapped up and over the windward-facing pali, making for breezy and wild conditions.

Just hiking, one can complete the crossover from Tripler to the benchmarked Keahiakahoe pu'u in around 30 minutes, with the trail passing a couple of powerline towers and an abandoned radar tower. The path wasn't overly muddy and the pockets of clidemia weren't too bad. Because we were clearing and taking our time, the summit section lasted about an hour.

From Keahiakahoe, we turned left and descended the middle ridge of Moanalua Valley. A couple years ago, I slipped off this ridge while descending and avoided a lengthy (1000-foot?) slide to the floor of the valley by applying the uluhe-arrest technique--akin to ice-arrest that alpine mountaineers use to terminate a fall--but with my hands, fingers, and toes substituting for an ice axe.

Yesterday's hike was my first trek along the middle ridge since the fall, and I made it down with no problem. And I'm glad I returned, for the middle ridge is a magnificent piece of trail, with some nice narrow sections (including one where I fell), plenty of native flora variety, and great views down into Moanalua Valley. And the trail is pristine, with no major erosion, no big mudholes, and no trash. Since it doesn't see much hiker traffic, hopefully the middle ridge will remain pristine for years to come.

During the descent, plant enthusiasts Kost, Charlotte, and Ken were in flora nirvana while checking out the trailside vegetation. So taken was Pat, usually a hike front-runner, that he hung back with the plant folks to "smell the flowers," as he put it. What's more, Arnold spotted a rare tree snail, and we all marvelled at a lovely ohia tree just swollen with red blossoms. A great day.


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