OHE June 1, 1998 (b)

Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 09:49:06 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Waiahilahila-Kamapua'a

Yesterday (Sunday, 5/31) about 30 folks turned out for the HTMC trail maintenance outing of the route the club calls Kamapua'a. We met initially at Punaluu Beach Park and after a briefing by "Mama" Mabel Kekina, we carpooled in a handful of vehicles over to the Sacred Falls parking lot. While we normally assemble at 8 and shove off at 8:30, because of the length and difficulty of the outing we moved the time scale up a half hour so that we were mauka-bound by 8.

Among the throng of 30 were OHE-L members Pat Rorie, Nathan Yuen (who earlier submitted a nice write-up about the hike), Ralph Valentino, Carole K. Moon, Thomas Yoza, Judy and Kim Roy, and Chris Atkinson.

The first 15 minutes involved walking along a dirt road leading to Sacred Falls. There's a junction with a sign pointing hikers to the left to head to the Falls trail but instead we went right, following a road leading to a water tank and shortly thereafter a small fenced enclosure where the trail to Pu'u Waiahilahila commenced. My Hawaiian language source books don't have a direct reference to Waiahilahila, but the word certainly has something to do with water ("wai"). And since "hilahila" means "shy" or "embarrassed," waiahilahila might mean "shy water." Interesting if accurate.

Whatever the meaning, Pu'u Waiahilahila has been nicknamed "the nipple" since it bears a distinct likeness to this occasionally suckled body part. To verify the resemblance for yourself, the next time you're out Hauula way, take a look mauka when in the area of Sacred Falls (the place usually fronted by dozens of tourist cars in a dirt lot). Waiahilahila is atop the ridge on the right side of the valley.

The climb to the Nipple or Shy Water or whatever name one prefers is a lung-busting, calf-burning, how-do-you-do. The topo maps cites the elevation of Waiahilahila at 1264 which is gained in about half a mile. There's a 20 minute climb to an intermediate pu'u, a saddle section where we had a chance to give our pulse rates some time to decrease, and then the final 15-minute huff-n-puff ascent to the Nipple. The climb from road's end to Nipple takes 45 minutes, give or take. To give some inkling about the toughness of the ascent, someone noted that Jason Sunada, a noted non-sweater, was perspiring fairly heavily after gaining the ridgetop.

Once the Nipple was tweaked, our trail work began thenceforth and continued as we worked our way ~two miles upridge to the junction with the Castle Trail. We had plans to clear a part of Castle toward the Koolau Summit Trail, if time and energy permitted, and initially it seemed we were on a timetable to reach the Castle junction before our traditional noon lunch stop.

Like other trails we've worked on during the past several months, Kamapua'a ridge was quite dry, virtually mudless for 80% of the way. Last year I recall sliding and scrambling up and down slippery slopes from the Nipple to the upper junction with Castle but the footing was excellent yesterday. Unfortunately, uluhe has continued its unceasing onslaught and even with the good footing we had much work to do to hack open a decent swath.

The ridge is a typical ungraded Koolau rollercoaster with a series of ups and downs although nothing radical. Reuben Mateo, aka the Ambassador of Kaena Point, did most of the ramrod duty on the way up to Castle with Chris Atkinson, his coast guard buddy Jim, Bill Gorst, Nathan Yuen, Jay Feldman, and I comprising the rest of the lead uluhe attack squad. The rest of the gang was spread out along the ridge in varying intervals, busily hacking away to create a hikeable path.

At about 11, Bill and I estimated that we seemed to be progressing quickly enough to have lunch along the bank of upper Kaluanui Stream well above Sacred Falls. However, cloudy conditions obscured upridge visibility and on more than a couple instances I predicted incorrectly that we had arrived at the junction with Castle much to the disappointment of the group I was hiking with.

Also around 11, we went by the ribboned junction (elev. ~2000) with a ridge that comes up from the Papali Trail. Thereafter, the ridge narrowed and dropped to a gentle saddle then commenced on a more pronounced rollercoaster that included climbs of at least two decent-sized pu'u. The trail also became more muddy in this section with a larger variety of native flora, several which Nathan mentioned in his write-up.

Finally, at 12:15, we arrived at the junction with Castle (elev. ~2400), needing a grueling 3:15 to get there from Waiahilahila. No mention was made of continuing along Castle to the KST since we all were tired, thirsty, and ready to plop down to eat lunch.

During lunch, I whooped out several times to see if any other members of the crew were in hearing range but we could detect no response, not even the easily recognizable Paka-lolo nyuk-nyuk-nyuk. Reuben thought that some folks probably had turned back because of the length and difficulty of the trail.

At 12:45, seven of us departed the lunch spot and began the descent of the overgrown but fairly well-marked Castle Trail. A few minutes down Castle, we heard Pat and others on the ridge above us but we never saw them the rest of the hike.

We reached the stream crossing in 30 minutes, the gap where the trail emerged at a magnificent viewpoint of Punaluu Valley in another 30, and the junction with a steep ridge that bypassed a long switchback in another 15.

The steep ridge route eventually rejoins Castle after about a quarter-mile descent and the remainder of hike involved a series of contours in and out of a handful of ravines, and then a straight shot downslope through a long section of guava to a dirt road. Castle is in fairly decent shape, with no major blowdowns or vegetation tangles to create problems. After a long stretch of no contact with the rest of the gang, Dusty Klein caught up with the front group in one of the ravines and he ragged me about leaving my machete behind on the trail just past the stream crossing. As it turned out, the machete wasn't mine but I won't divulge its owner's name to deflect embarrassment. :-)

Someone appears to have pushed through Castle recently and placed long orange ribbons at regular intervals. We had heard that access to upper Punaluu Valley is restricted but we saw no "Do Not Enter" signs nor were we stopped by anyone while coming out. Anyone wanting to hike in the valley or on Castle might doublecheck to see if access is indeed open.

At 3:45, Wave 1 was greeted by Mabel just makai of the locked gate that bars further vehicular traffic into Punaluu Valley. She and Lester the Jester ferried us back to Punaluu Beach Park where we enjoyed snacks and soft drinks and waited for the arrival of the rest of the gang.

At 4, Mabel received a cell phone call from Ken Suzuki, who was acting as sweep. Ken reported he was just beginning the descent of the steep bypass ridge, putting him and anyone with him 1.5 hours from the Punaluu gate. That'd mean a 5:30 exit and one looong day of tramping in the hills. Are we a bunch of crazies or what?

Crazy or otherwise, we completed the job we set out to do and the route is prepared for the members-only club hike led by Grant Oka on June 14.

Aloha and safe hiking to all,


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