OHE July 7, 1999 (Upper Kalauao)

Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 05:21:04 -1000
From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" (802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us>
Subject: Kalauao/ohe-l


Our small team proceeded up Aiea Ridge yesterday, Monday, July 5, taking advantage of the work done the day before by the HTMC trail clearers (and many thanks to them!). On the ridge trail, we passed flowering lobelioids, an uncommon hao tree (Rauvolfia), and lots of sandalwood. All day long, on all parts of the trip, we noticed that the 'akia were bearing heavy loads of white to fully-ripened orange fruit. The sight was unusual because most plants don't seem to be so completely synchronized. All these 'akia, though, were clearly following the same calendar.

We did not head for the summit, but down into Kalauao Valley. About two-thirds of the way to the summit, at the small pu'u marked 1925' on the topo, we searched the Ewa side of the trail for a path that I'd made last year. That path had also been ascended by last year's HTMC Kalauao trail clearers, after they proceeded up the stream from the bottom of the trail down from Pu'u Uau. (See my writeup of 8-28-98 and Dayle's of 9-13-99.) Finding the path was not easy. We missed seeing my faded double ribbons from last year and went about 30' too far, but at that point we found what turned out to be a different, fairly fresh, swath. We descended about 100', saw none of my ribbons from last year, and realized that the trail was going down very steeply into a gully rather than onto the spine of the adjacent spur. Back up to the ridge trail we went, where we soon found my old ribbons and the correct side trail.

Eco-note: I don't know who, or what, made the other swath into the gully, but because of its steepness it was showing a lot of exposed mud. There was already quite a bit of palm grass growing along the swath. The side trail down the spur, on the other hand, only a few yards away, was not as steep, not as wide, and showed hardly any bare earth. It was lined instead with old uluhe debris. No palm grass at all was growing there. We assume there's an important lesson here, and we'll be on the lookout for more evidence.

The trip down the spur only takes about 30 minutes, passing a prominent lobelioid (probably Cyanea angustifolia, like the ones right beyond the Loop Trail, at the start of the Ridge Trail). We made a small switchback to get around one short, but sharp drop, our goal being to avoid creating any easily eroded spots. Very near the bottom of the spur are a large holei tree (Ochrosia) and another lobelioid. We attempted a reroute at that point because the most obvious way down a short, steep slope leading to the streambed goes right by the lobelioid and we didn't want it to become a handhold. This area will need more work next time.

We noticed that someone (hunters?) had torn down our markers from last year in the flat area leading to the stream. I mention this because I think another Kalauao clearing is coming up soon and I wouldn't want anyone to come all the way upstream and be unable to find a marker showing the trail up the spur. We replaced the markers and copiously flagged the streambed area right by the side trail. We put no other pink markers in the streambed. There was quite a bit of hunter trash along the stream (at least three plastic bags hanging in trees--"Hey, look, here's my garbage and I'm proud of it!"), and we saw some fresh human-and-dog foot-and-paw prints, too.

The streambed area had ample common guava and some mountain apple, but native vegetation was well-represented. Native white hibiscus was abundant. A few loulu were also present. We saw an unusual manono. There are two types of lama, the common one and another (Diospyros hillebrandii), far less common, which has larger, oblong leaves with a pebbly leaf surface; there was more of the latter around the streambed than I've ever seen in one place. The stream was flowing, and a little milky or muddy, but there were no inviting pools nearby. Last year we went upstream about an hour and got to a nice, small pool. This year we did not go very far, but instead ascended a short way up a spur on the opposite (i.e., Ewa) side of the stream. The view was beautiful, the vegetation was comfortingly native, it was quiet, and it did not rain on us, a nice contrast to the rather damp trips in and out. There were lots of mosquitoes in the streambed, but just 50' up on the spur they left us alone. The spur in question would probably have been a good route to the top of that ridge--the one separating upper Kalauao from one branch of upper Waimalu, but we left that for another day.

The trip back up our marked side trail to Aiea Ridge Trail was fairly steep, but not difficult, and I was lucky enough to see an apapane fly by right in front of me. Coming out in a light rain yesterday, chilly, wet, and hungry, I was thinking that it would be several months before I returned to the area, but by this morning I realize that I'm anxious to return much sooner than that.


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