OHE June 22, 1998

Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 11:18:28 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Taking Revenge on the Trail

On Sunday, June 21, members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club trail maintenance crew assembled near the Boy Scout Camp in Pupukea at the end of Pupukea Road to clear what HTM calls the Pupukea Summit hike, a 2.5 mile stretch of the magnificent Ko'olau Summit Trail.

At approx. 8:30 a.m. three vehicles containing the group traveled mauka two miles beyond the Boy Scout Camp on a dirt road leading to the Army's Kahuku training area. Upon arriving at the training area, the participants exited the transports, listened to final instructions from boss lady Mabel Kekina then began walking along another road past a locked gate. Eventually the road led to the trailhead and cleaning of the footpath commenced.

Larry Oswald (carrying his gas powered chain saw) and Kris Corliss, residents of Pupukea, had a special project in mind so they shot ahead of the main group pushing through vegetation. Ken Suzuki accompanied them carrying the gas container. I stayed with the main group cutting mostly uluhe for a brief period then followed the threesome. I eventually caught up with them a few hundred yards beyond the normal termination point of the hike, a pu'u (elev. 1,860 ft) with a nice lookout of the Kahuku wilderness and shoreline identified by a benchmark. The area was choked with guava trees.

As soon as he was ready, Larry cranked up the saw and started cutting. Kris, Ken and I chucked the spears of guava away from the trail and did touch up work. I used loppers while Ken and Kris employed machetes for this task.

A few minutes after 12 noon the four of us took a lunch break. Although not more than a quarter of a mile in length, the reopened section of the KST was wide and beautiful to behold. Mike Algiers reached our location as we finished lunch and showed off his new anvil lopper ($15 at Food Outlet).

Next, Larry gave me an opportunity to use the chain saw as our group got back to work. I had heard horror stories of people maiming themselves with such a device and the movie "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" came to mind as he handed the machine to me. Because of a malfunction the saw could only manage one third of its normal cutting speed. Nevertheless, the guava trees were no match against the steel teeth. An awesome tool for clearing trails, no doubt. I carefully and methodically crouched down to prune the tall woody plants. However, it wasn't long until I surrendered the task back to Larry.

Later, several of the main trail clearing crew joined us. Their original intent was to just say "Hello" but once they saw us laboring, the group's natural tendancy for destruction kicked in. As a result, they assisted Ken, Kris, Mike, Larry and I in our struggle to reopen the KST from Pupukea to Laie.

HTM Prez Grant Oka was especially industrious using his hand held saw to trim many guava trees down to the nub. Super hikers Carole Moon and Lita Komura were also hard at work. Ditto for Kim and Judy Roy (Judy sporting her stylish purple long sleeve shirt and Kim exercising his gift of gab). Ralph Valentino's efforts were top notch as always.

Around 2 p.m. or so Larry needed a break so I jumped in, cutting down another 50 yards of guava. When the chain got jammed with debris I shut the machine off and backtracked to hurl the fallen guava out of the footpath. Grant and Ralph helped me with this. Meanwhile, Kim and Mike returned to my location from scouting out the trail beyond the improved section. Kim described it as "evil".

At 3 p.m. the remaining members of the trail clearing crew decided to turn around and hike back to the vehicles. Just prior to departing, Mike took a GPS reading. It indicated the distance from the furthest point of the reopened trail to the benchmark on the pu'u to be .55 or .57 mile straight line distance (as the crow flies). But with all the twists and turns of the trail I'd say closer to .75 mile. Either way there is much more labor to be done to complete the job. However, we certainly put a dent in the work load and it should last until next year when we return again.

Larry, Kris, Mike, Ken and I tramped through lots of mud on our way back to the road. Ralph, Judy and Kim met us at the junction with the side trail which leads to the Ko'olau lookout (a flat grassy area with landing mats used as a helipad) and all of us emerged from the woods unscathed.

Ralph whisked us back to the Boy Scout Camp in his blue truck where we enjoyed Mabel's ono grinds between 5 and 6 p.m.

Notes: Dayle Turner and I traversed the KST from Laie to Pupukea last year. It was a nightmare. At times the two of us were reduced to crawling on all fours. In my opinion, the stretch where the guava clogs the footpath is the worst section of trail on Oahu. If enough progress is made each year to clear the guava I believe it is only a matter of time before this region of the KST is reopened.

== Paka

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