OHE July 24, 1999 (Waimalu-Waiau)



Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 23:33:01 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Waimalu-Waiau SH (7/24/99)

Today, Pat and I co-led the HTMC hike up Waimalu Valley, up the valley's middle ridge, north across the summit crest to Waiau, down Waiau, down a spur to Waimalu, and back to the trailhead on Onikiniki St. Eight members joined us, including Evelia Pineda-Torres, Steve Haus, Peter Kempf, Arnold Fujioka, Dave Waller, Steve Poor, Rob Geer, and Wing Ng.

The weather was cloudy and drizzly in the morning but cleared up nicely by day's end. Because of the precipitation, Waimalu Stream was slightly higher than normal but the ten crossings going in and the nine coming out were completed safely. Little Waimalu Stream was also flowing, not an ordinary occurrence.

I have to give Wing his due. We often kid him about his slow pace, but one thing I respect about him is that he's fully cognizant of his abilities and makes adjustments for them. In today's case, he started hiking at 6 a.m. to give himself the best chance to complete the hike. When I last saw him, he was plugging away up the middle ridge about 10-15 minutes from the summit. As he reported in his post, he ended up returning the way he came.

On the way up the middle ridge, we spotted small waterfalls to the left and right. Seeing these seemed to lift the spirits of the group and shifted the focus, at least for a short duration, from the rigors of the tough climb. The middle ridge of Waimalu is a rugged one to ascend. Arnold, who's led the hike up Bowman several times, said Waimalu middle is much harder. For those looking for a challenge and a heckuva workout, give WM a go, whether with the HTMC or on your own.

The crossover to Waiau was highlighted by brisk breezes accelerating over the crest from windward and nice views down into Waihee Valley. Memories etched in my mind are wind-propelled clouds ripping up and over the mountain top and stinging rain on my face. While we made our way along the spine, we could see the saddle where the Waimano terminus is (a large landslide makes this spot easy to locate), and when we looked back at the summit of WM, in view was the ridge called Kalahaku that forms the south wall of Waihee Valley. The crossover didn't have any narrow sections and the segment included the expected summit rollercoaster parade of pu'us.

The terminus of Waiau is well-ribboned and the trail down to the Big Dip is still wide open (kudos to the HTMC trail maintenance gang for their work). Because of the earlier rain, Waiau was slick and muddy in places, but even if we got mucky, we knew Waimalu Stream would be waiting for us to wash up.

Without a problem, we found the junction with the spur that would take us back to Waimalu Valley, and we slip-slid our way down the spur, unconcerned about mud accumulated on our posteriors. Steve asked me to acknowledge the HTMC crew that opened up this spur. "Great job," says Steve.

As I mentioned, Waimalu Stream awaited our mud-covered bodies, and the group I was with spent time rinsing off the muck at stream crossing #9. I had been concerned the rain might have caused the stream to rise to an unsafe level, but the water height never got to above knee-height, much lower most of the time.

While hiking on the contour segment below the ridge that seperates Little Waimalu from Big Waimalu Valley, Steve, Rob, and I had a surprise encounter with Dr. Gene Robinson, who jogged the trail with a bag of Doritos and liter bottles of Gatorade that he gifted us with. Mahalo, Gene.

The last of us reached Onikiniki at 6:30 p.m., 11 hours after starting out. Pat left a note on my car, saying that the first person in his group finished at 3:30 (8 hours cumulative). While there has been some concern expressed about the actions of speed hikers, I've come to the conclusion that if they experience enjoyment from moving fast and getting from beginning to end in the shortest amount of time, more power and enjoyment to them. Some folks hike to view plants, some to socialize, some to check out geological features, some for the workout, and some for a combination of reasons. And some folks hike to move fast. I think we should celebrate that folks are hiking, an activity that we all here, for whatever reason, have an affinity for.

Hike on,

--DKT


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