OHE June 4, 1998

Date: Thu, 4 Jun 1998 23:41:21 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Tantalus Afterwork Sixer

I remarked to my friend Bill Melemai today that the Tantalus system is a great place to hike because it offers so many variations based on one's time, energy, motivation, and hiking companions. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I did that Aihualama shortcut route up to the Nuuanu Lookout. And today, Bill and I met at the Manoa Cliffs trailhead and hiked for over two hours on a combination of six different trails, including a newly named one that will be the focus of much attention this Saturday, National Trails Day.

We didn't shove off until 4:45 since Bill was coming from work. Meanwhile, I had spent the day taking care of odds and ends (read: mostly napping--yup, I'm still on vacation). I parked where the trail starts along Tantalus Drive a few minutes before Bill arrived and spent the time putting on my cleated Nikes, gaiters and giving some thought to the wisdom of leaving my vehicle there given the extensive collection of shattered automobile glass littering the roadside. When Bill arrived, he mentioned that he'd leave his Fire Department jacket clearly visible in his Bronco, thinking that would-be thieves might be deterred by this symbol of public authority.

Then I reminded him that rip-off culprits might be more tempted than deterred by the jacket. "Good point," said Bill, as he tucked the coat out of sight in his vehicle.

With valuables safely hidden in our vehicles or tucked away in our daypacks, we were off on Manoa Cliffs, passing a young couple seated on the stone wall right where the trail begins. They were either resting or waiting for a ride but we didn't stop to ask.

Our first objective was to hike to the Nuuanu Lookout, mostly so Bill would know how long this leg would take and what the condition of the trail was for a hike he'd be leading for some visiting friends from the mainland. In all, we needed 40 minutes, hiking at a brisk but not breakneck pace.

On the way, I pointed a couple of trails on the left that went down into Pauoa Valley. Since Bill had grown up in Pauoa but hadn't done any exploring in the upper valley, he was interested in these trails for a future hike. The HTMC does a hike called Pauoa Woods in the valley so I have some familiarity with the area and volunteered to show him around on some later date.

We also noticed materials laying trailside to replace a decaying bridge along the trail and a new Na Ala Hele sign at the junction where the Cliffs trail heads up and to right in a switchback climb along the flank of Tantalus.

I should note that the Pauoa Flats shortcut trail has been christened "Kalawahine" (lit. "the day of women") and that an article in today's (6/4) *Star-Bulletin* mentioned that the state DLNR and the Sierra Club will spearhead an outing on Saturday with the major focus being that route.

As Bill and I hiked along Kalawahine, we saw evidence of plenty of prep work for Saturday, including major chainsaw work, regrading of the path, and piles of timbers made of recycled plastic used for steps and trail boundaries. Much mahalo to the folks who did this prep work and to those who turn out Saturday on National Trails Day.

After reaching Nuuanu Lookout, instead of backtracking through Pauoa Flats, Bill was agreeable to trying the ridge trail that heads makai from the Lookout. New pink ribbons were placed at the head of this ridge trail which seemed to indicate that some group--maybe the Sierra Club or Nature Conservancy--had just hiked the route or would soon be doing so.

Unlike the romp along wide Pauoa Flats trail, this ridge route was anything but flat. Accordingly, after a few minutes, Bill and I were sweating and huffing as we followed the ungraded hogback route toward its intersection with the Nuuanu trail. We stopped briefly at a couple nice view spots of Nuuanu Valley and climbed cautiously above a large landslide scar. There is plenty of native flora along the way ("This is a real trail," I told Bill), including the easily recognizable ohia, koa, and naupaka kuahiwi.

The ridge trail interlude took us 30 minutes (my foggy memory told me we'd need an hour) at which point we reached the Nuuanu trail where we turned left to head back to Pauoa Flats. The Nuuanu trail, I should mention, has been recently weed-whacked to golf green smoothness. Nice work to the Na Ala Hele gang or to whoever did the work.

Once we reached the junction of Nuuanu and Pauoa Flats, we headed right on the Flats trail with a rooty, muddy path underfoot and 10-story eucalyptus trees overhead. Instead of retracing our steps along Kalawahine, we veered left, headed for the Manoa Cliffs trail and then the Pu'u Ohia trail that would take us to the crest of Tantalus. Even though it was past six by this time, there was ample daylight remaining for us to complete our outing before darkness hit. Of course, we had our flashlights, just in case.

Like all the major junctions in the Tantalus complex, the Pu'u Ohia/Manoa Cliffs intersection is marked by a brown pole emblazoned with the respective routes' names. After a quarter mile climb, mostly through bamboo, Pu'u Ohia passes a communications buidling and yields to a paved, narrow road that descends to a saddle and then rises up to the high point of Tantalus. We climbed atop the concrete platform at the summit, admired the view for a couple of minutes (much of the makai vista is obscured by treetops), and then headed back down the road to the continuation of the Pu'u Ohia trail that would take us down to Tantalus Drive.

Near the bottom of Pu'u Ohia, we passed a couple guys scanning the treetops, probably for Jackson chameleons (why else would they be out on the trail, with long sticks in hand, and looking up in trees?). A minute later we were on Tantalus Drive which we walked along for 10 minutes to return to our intact, unmolested vehicles.

In all, we had been on the trail for 2 hours, 10 minutes and had hiked on parts of six trails--Manoa Cliffs, Kalawahine (formerly Paoua Flats shortcut), Pauoa Flats, Nuuanu ridge (my name), Nuuanu, and Pu'u Ohia--and all of this after work (well, at least Bill worked today).

Hopefully, others on OHE-L will be inspired to hike after work as well, and better yet, to write about their exploits for all to read.

--DKT (who'd really love to read about hikes others do, after work or otherwise.)

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