OHE June 29, 1999 (kuliouou middle)

Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 09:07:20 -1000
From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" (802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us>
Subject: kuliouou west/ohe-l

On Sunday, June 29, I went up Kuliouou West Ridge with a botanical crew. I'd never been up that ridge before and I was somewhat surprised to find a pretty good trail, steep, but honest, with hardly any dips. There were two cable sections near the top, and in both cases the cables were probably necessary for safety, but the situations did not seem particularly dangerous. The weather was great, usually sunny or partly cloudy, and we had some great views from the top.

Most of the ridge was covered with invasive alien plants, but near the top we finally got into ohia, uluhe, and other natives. Noteworthy plants included a'e (Zanthoxylum) and a native violet (both near one of the rope sections); one or two types of manono (Hedyotis) with large leaves (one had bloomed profusely); quite a bit of olomea (Perrottetia) right at the summit, with vibrant red splashes on its leaves; a plentiful ha'iwale (Cyrtandra); many specimens of the lobelioid Clermontia oblongifolia, one with very large, heavy, and severely curved flowers; one or two small lobelioids, maybe Cyanea acuminata; and lots of yet another lobelioid, Lobelia hypoleuca, with its blindingly white lower leaf surfaces flashing in the wind, spread widely around the summit area. I probably would have missed seeing, much less identifying, about half of these plants had I not been with some real experts.

Speaking of experts, one of the fellows on the hike is the leader of the State's efforts to control Miconia and Clidemia. Not long ago we saw whole hillsides of dead Clidemia in upper Kaluanui Valley, above the Castle Trail. That's partly due to a virus, but there are also some insects that have been released to chew up the Clidemia. The use of various herbicides for control of invasive species was also discussed. I'm beginning to suspect that something good could come of a collaboration between these experts and avid hikers and trailclearers. There are ways to kill guava and Christmas berry, for instance, rather than simply cutting it and letting it grow back thicker than ever. (The Pupukea KST efforts come to mind here.) I don't know enough to say more at this point, but I'll pass on whatever I learn to anyone who's interested.

There was a stiff breeze during most of our summit time, a reminder that you can always find cool weather on Oahu, as long as you're willing to hike to the top of the Koolaus. We had a long, leisurely lunch and then spread out along the summit trail to inspect the plants along the stretch heading toward the top of the Na Ala Hele trail. We didn't have to go far to find many things of interest--lobelioids, for instance, dot the hillsides up there, but they're not always easy to spot. When you really get down and look, you can also find little plants growing deep in the shade of other plants, like small 'ala 'ala wai nui (Peperomia). The odd thing was the large number of pesky flies; maybe they blew up there from pig farms down below.

The trip down was uneventful, and we gratefully quaffed some wonderful fresh fruit juice brought by the highly esteemed senior member of the crew (may we all be hiking like that in our early 70s!) and departed.


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