On Saturday, I logged four hours of trail time with a bulky pack on the Maunawili Demonstration Trail in preparation for this coming weekend's ascent of Mauna Loa. What did I have in my pack? Try a case of beer, a gallon a half of water, my tent, some cooking gear, a couple of tarps and some other odds and ends I stuff in there. Total weight--maybe 30-40 pounds (the case of beer alone weighs 18 pounds).
And no I didn't drink the beer. :-)
Must've looked kinda funny on the trail with such a large pack but I gotta prepare myself for the long haul up the long mountain. The demonstration trail, by the way, is in fine shape, thanks to recent work by members of the Hawaii Bicycling League and Sierra Club. Mahalo nui to them.
Yesterday (Sunday, 6/1), I went with the HTMC trail clearing gang to work on Bowman, the trail on the ewa-side ridge above Kalihi Valley. Members of the crew were Pat Rorie, Thomas Yoza, (HTMC president) Grant Oka, Jay Feldman, Ralph Valentino, June Miyasato, Naomi Nasu, Arnold Fujimoto, Carole K. Moon, Bill Gorst, Charlotte Yamane, Lita Komura, Ken Suzuki, Jarrod Kinoshita, and Jarrod's girlfriend Marissa. Our fearless leader Mabel Kekina, featured in a *Honolulu Advertiser* article earlier this week, was not with us because she was attending her granddaughter's high school graduation on the Big Island.
We start at the "shortcut" trail, which commences on Likelike Highway about 200 yards makai of the access road that leads to the ventilation building atop the Wilson Tunnel. To begin, we hop over the guardrail and make our way through the forest until we pick up an old road, now overgrown with grass and weeds. We follow this road basically makai for an eighth to quarter mile, passing an old traffic signal mechanism box on the right, and heading upslope shortly thereafter on a trail by a tree with a long pink ribbon hanging from it.
As a sidenote, please be aware that anyone going into the watershed area off of Likelike Hwy (and other watershed areas, for that matter) will be stopped if spotted by a DLNR enforcement officer (see the front page of today's (6/2/97) *Honolulu Advertiser* for an interesting article about these DLNR guys).
Initially, the trail is cleared fairly well, probably by HECO crews going to check on a stretch of powerline poles situated on the hillside. The trail passes by the base of one pole and heads upslope. Beyond the poles, the trail becomes overgrown and difficult to spot but we pick it up eventually as we continue to ascend the broad ridge. Thomas places blue ribbons to mark the route more clearly for future treks.
Eventually, the ridge narrows and the trail stays on top of it. At times, the going is difficult because the slope is muddy and proceeds through uluhe with few trees and rocks for hand- and/or footholds. As we get higher up, our progess goes more smoothly and views down the valley open up now that we are above the treeline.
In an hour, we reach Bowman by a large, spreading koa tree (Ball mentions this junction in his book). Although upslope views are obscured by clouds, makai views of Kalihi Valley and Honolulu proper are quite pleasant.
From here, the summit of Bowman at Pu'u Kahuauli (elev. 2,740 feet) is 30-40 minutes away. We take longer to get there because we're clearing the trail as we go. A few minutes beyond the junction where we topped out is the diciest yet most amazing part of Bowman.
While follwing the ridgeline, a massive nob looms ahead. For those who've never done Bowman before, thoughts like, "How the heck am I going to manage this beast?" are sure to pop into mind.
The first obstacle is an eroded, steep 50-foot section that is negotiated with the aid of a cable. Footholds have been carved into the slope to make the ascent (and later the descent) quite manageable.
That done, the narrow trail contours to the left along the face of the huge nob with a sheer drop in the order of 500-600 feet just a mistep away. Jay comments that if the folks who write the dictionary need a picture to illustrate the word "precipitous," this spot would be a good place for it. He's right. We all make it with no problem.
The trail then switches back, heading right and up with a long cable available for security. Someone has cut the initial segment of the cable at the most critical part of this section and Patrick expresses his disgust at this unknown culprit as we edge our way slowly upslope.
Hats off to whoever carved out the trail in this part of Bowman. The way it zigzags to gain the top of this seemingly insurmountable nob is superb. Ken spends time doing some additional work on the footholds in this area to make negotiating it more safe. Mahalo, Ken.
Once the nob-top is reached, the ridge broadens considerably, so much so that one's sense of highness and danger diminishes considerably. The going is quite pleasant, in fact. In about 15 minutes, we are at the Koolau summit, where we hack out a lunch spot clearing for those doing the club hike a couple weeks down the road. Clouds block views of the windward side for the most part but we are treated to a couple minutes of panorama when the white stuff lifts briefly.
After a half hour break at the top, we head back down. By this time, clouds have lifted from the lower slopes so that we have great makai views of the entire length of the ridge, of Tripler ridge to our right, of Kalihi Valley, and beyond. Pat "Psycho" Rorie stares longingly across the valley at massive Lanihuli as if it's some beautiful Hawaiian maiden.
We spend the next four hours--machetes a-swingin'--clearing the trail all the way to its starting point at Kalihi Elementary School (see Ball's book for driving directions to the start point). Bowman is now open. If you have time and the desire to do it, now's the time. Pass the word to others as well.
The gang is also discussing an ascent of Lanihuli at some point in the coming weeks. Will announce that if/when it comes to fruition so that any OHE folks who want to join us, can.
Until bumbye, gang...