OHE July 15, 1999 (Waiawa)

Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 21:20:12 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: WEHOTs Visit Waiawa

With an off day from work today, I joined the Wednesday-Elders- Hiking-on-Thursdays (WEHOT) group for an outing in the area near the Waiawa Correctional Facility. Those attending, namely Jay Feldman, Bill Gorst, John Hall, Charlotte Yamane, and I, met at our usual rendezvous point in Kaneohe and then carpooled over to the access road to the WCF off of H-2 and Ka Uka Blvd. HTMC trail clearing honcho Mabel Kekina and Inger Lidman met us there but both had errands to run and ended up not hiking.

When we set off at a bit past 9 a.m. the Koolaus were cloaked by grey clouds. Although it wasn't raining at the trailhead, precipitation seemed likely at some point during the day based on the darkness upslope. Contrary to what we were observing at the time, weather forecasts called for mostly fair conditions today, and as things turned out, we were spared from the wet stuff save for a couple of very light drizzles.

To prep for the HTMC KST backpack trip at the end of the month, I shouldered my Camp Trails Scirocco internal frame pack (2 lbs.) loaded with most of the gear I'll be using. In recent months, I've been making the transition to ultralight backpacking principles and have a goal of keeping the total weight carried in the 20-25 pound range. Among the gear I'll be using is an Esbit stove (6 oz. with fuel tabs), a Eureka Gossamer bivy tent (2.5 lbs) and a SafeWater filter (www.safewateranywhere.com/). One premise of lightweight backpacking is to maximize enjoyment while hiking instead of while camping, and though I may lack some of the creature comforts, I think I'll be comfortable enough come time to eat and sleep.

Enough digression.

From where we parked, we descended a steep muddy slope to a gulch peppered with a maze of motorbike trails. The mucky, meandering drudgery of cycle-trail-gulch made it a non-favorite for me, as did the subsequent trudge along an old jeep road. One helpful aspect was the hiking poles I used today, which provided some resistance work for my shoulders and arms while helping me balance- and propulsion-wise.

At the bottom of a steep descent of the old road, we reached a junction about 1.2 hours from the start and encountered three hunters and their dogs. Earlier, they'd bagged and butchered a pua'a and paused at the junction to summon a couple of their canines which had disappeared into the bush. We promised to hasten the dogs back in their direction if encountered. By this time, the skies had cleared up considerably and the appearance of the sun created muggy, sweaty conditions.

At the junction, we proceeded straight ahead uphill on a motorcycle track instead of heading right and down (we'd come back the latter way). After fifteen to twenty minutes of hiking through, we passed a hilltop with a cross on it and not long afterward we reached an obscure junction where we headed right on a trail instead of following the well-worn motorcycle track we'd been on.

Straight ahead was a deep gulch and on its farside was Kipapa Ridge, topped by its trademark pine trees. Bill asked if I was considering heading over to Kipapa but I said I wasn't because doing so would involve a steep descent, a steep ascent, and some possible bushwhacking, none which I was in the mood for.

So we headed right on the trail contouring in, around, and over some low ridges and pu'us covered by uluhe, koa, hapu'u ferns, and non-native vegetation. I found this segment very enjoyable and the sun had dried the area out enough so that mud wasn't a big problem.

After climbing a first, second, and third hill, we reached a scenic point where Charlotte and I sat down to eat lunch. In the meantime, Bill, John, and Jay followed a spur that headed in the direction of Kipapa Ridge. Descending initially then climbing to an adjacent hilltop, they went about 100 meters and then turned back when they saw the rollercoaster progression they'd have to complete to reach Kipapa.

When the three returned, they also sat down to eat, and we enjoyed some pleasant conversation: some about the gear I was carrying, some about the Sierra Club, and some about a miscellany of other topics. We spent maybe 30 minutes for lunch, rousing ourselves when a drizzle shower swept by.

Hastened by a shower that diminished as quickly as it appeared, we continued down the trail opened up earlier this year for a club outing, passing through uluhe and a smattering of koa. We noticed many keiki koa sprouting up in the swath once covered thickly by uluhe, and Bill commented that trail clearing efforts sometimes bring good results for native flora. Further ahead, John identified a large-leaf variety of lama and Charlotte chimed in by pointing out several other species of native flora.

Moving steadily down the ridge, we reached the Ahern Ditch Trail where it crossed over the ridge and switchbacked down to Waiawa Gulch. Instead of heading left to take the switchbacks, we continued to descend a trail on the right, which also switchbacked to a gently flowing stream where Charlotte urged me to try my SafeWater filter. However, I was too lazy to stop and grab it out of my pack. Plus I still had ample H20 on-hand, so I didn't feel compelled to filter any. Another time.

The ditch trail has overgrown somewhat but we pushed through without much problem. Fortunately, there were no significant blowdowns where I had to duck low or crawl with the bigger-than-usual pack. As contour trails do, the path wound in and out of gullies, eventually delivering us to the junction where we'd met the hunters in the morning.

Someone noted that it was 2:10 when we arrived at the junction, almost four hours to the minute from when we'd talked to the hunters at the same spot. On the way back, we followed a different and more interesting course part of the way and at one point we looked down on an old reservoir, now just a gulch filled with buffalo grass.

The return tramp through cycle-trail-gulch was as unappealing as in the morning, but we persevered until reaching the trailhead at 3:15. After tidying up our mud-covered legs and footwear as best as possible, we enjoyed cold drinks and chilled star fruit while workers of the swing shift of the correctional facility went zipping past us on the access road. Agreeing that the hours invested were ones well spent, we headed home.

Hike on,


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