OHE June 1, 1999 (Kaneohe Bay Kayak)

Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 16:36:39 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: A different kind of outing

Pardon to list members if this seems off-topic for OHE-L. Hopefully, you'll see some tie-ins to hiking even though the bulk of the following outing involved a different type of propulsion than bipedal.

Having done plenty of hiking in the past week, I gladly accepted Ralph Valentino's invitation to join him and a few others yesterday for a kayak outing on Oahu's windward side. It'd be a nice change, I thought, and a good chance to give the legs a rest.

Hiking enthusiasts and occasional kayakers Jason Sunada, Kim & Judy Roy, Chris Atkinson, and Naomi Nasu were part of the group, and we met at 10 a.m. at Charlotte Yamane's and Volker Hildebrandt's waterfront home along Kaneohe Bay across from Coconut Island.

From there, we loaded kayaks and passengers onto Ralph's truck and my Cherokee and made the drive along Kamehameha Highway past Kahaluu, Waiahole, Waikane, and Kualoa. Just before Kaaawa, at the foot of Mo'o Kapu o Haloa Ridge, home to Pu'u Kanehoalani, is Kaoio Point. When there's a good east swell, surfers frequent a break off Kaoio. It's also a well-used fishing spot, and vehicles are often seen parking along the highway there. Mauka of Kaoio is Kaaawa Valley, the domain of Kualoa Ranch and the site of many motion pictures, including Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, and others.

At 11:15, we launched about a half mile Kaaawa-side of Kaoio, right where a large vehicle-visibility mirror sits on the makai side of the highway. Our goal: to paddle nine miles to Charlotte and Volker's house, with intermediate landfalls at Chinaman's Hat and Kapapa Island. The skies were mostly clear, with brisk 15-20 mph trades making us wonder what the ocean had in store for us in the next several hours. As we shoved off, a spearfisherman asked where we were headed. When we told him, he was surprised since our end point was a good ways away and the ocean was a bit restless. "Hopefully, we won't be on the local news tonight," I said in jest.

For the first half mile, we were careful to follow a line that kept us clear of wave break zones. The most turbulent area was right off Kaoio, where a couple members of the group were bowled over by waves. Some of the group spent some time catching waves (in the 1-2 foot range). Meanwhile, I paddled to calmer waters just beyond Kaoio and spent some several minutes sitting in my kayak and examining the cliffs and dikes of Mo'o Kapu o Haloa. This was a really nice opportunity for a visual scan of the mountain since most of the time I pass by I'm driving, not the best time to be looking at a mountain.

From my offshore vantage point, I spotted several possible routes to the crest including one above the prominent bunker that one can see from the highway while passing Kaoio. Several caves are way up the face of the mountain, and I wondered if any were used by ancient Hawaiians for burials. Since the mountain is on Kualoa Ranch property, few if any people ever climb it. But it's nice to dream.

After launching, our first landfall was on Chinaman's Hat Island (aka Mokolii). The distance from our start point was 2.5 miles and we covered this span at a leisurely pace in an hour. While approaching Mokolii, we had nice views of the spread of Mo'o Kapu o Haloa, including altar-like Kanehoalani. Further inland was the sharkfin landmark Pu'u Ohulehule and the stretch of its southeast ridge.

We landed at a narrow cove on the ocean-facing side of the island. Tired from using underworked muscles and hungry since it was past noon, no one was up for the short hike to the top of the island, so we found a sheltered area on the rocks where we sat down and ate lunch. A cornucopia of food was shared, including fried chicken, musubi, fruits, brownies, chips, and more. While we ate, several other groups landed and/or left the island, including some who climbed up to the top and waved to us. From our lunch spot, we had a nice vantage point of the Kualoa shoreline and Mo'o Kapu o Haloa behind it. Crowds of people and cars were at Kualoa Beach Park, not surprising for a sunny holiday weekend.

After lunch, we commenced leg 2 of the journey--a three-mile paddle to Kapapa Island, a low-lying sliver of land about two miles off the Kaneohe/Kahaluu coast. Along the way, we kept vigilant for breaking swells that might upend us. As far as I know, no one was knocked over. This leg was a bit eerie since we were a good distance offshore, paddling for a pancake-like islet that was hard to see at sea level. At one point, a dude in Hoby-Cat sailed right by Chris. Jokingly, Chris asked for a tow. Not missing a beat, the Hoby-Cat guy replied, "No tow, but I'll race you."

To Kapapa we all made it okay in about an hour and spent some time resting in the shade of an ironwood grove and hiking the short loop around the island (see, there is hiking in this). Granted, the loop is less than 100 meters, but a trail it is. On the Marine base side of the island, several jet skiers carved up swells and breakers, at times propelling their crafts airborne and then making spectacular landings. Inland lay many familiar hiking landmarks like Ma`eli`eli, Kalahaku, Eleao, and Ka'aumakua.

The final leg of the kayak journey was 3.5 miles, taking us from Kapapa to the Charlotte/Volker homestead near Coconut Island. Just off Kapapa, we spent a brief time catching a wave or two and then commenced the lengthy paddle. From Kapapa, the landmark we aimed for was the Pohai Nani apartment building, a distinct multi-story structure that sits on the Koolau-facing slope of Kawaewae Ridge (aka Kokokahi Ridge). Like a beacon, it guided us where we needed to our final destination.

Understandably arm-weary, we reached Charlotte and Volker's by 5:00. After everyone had rinsed off and relaxed, Chris drove Ralph and I back to Kaaawa to retrieve our vehicles. Mahalo to him.

Later, after a long day on the ocean, a relaxing shower, and a good meal, I slept like a proverbial log. Today, it was back to hiking. More about that later.


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