OHE June 2, 1999 (Lanihuli via Mo'ole)



Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 21:38:20 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Mo'ole Ridge/Lanihuli

Today, I joined the Wednesday gang for some hiking, and on the agenda was an attempt at Pu'u Lanihuli via Mo'ole Ridge. The outing turned out to be an interesting adventure and we had a chance to trek along some sections that none of us had traversed before.

We gathered at 9 a.m. where Nuuanu Pali Drive meets Pali Highway. On hand were Jay Feldman, Bill Gorst, Rich Jacobson, Wing Ng, Mark Short, Charlotte Yamane, and I. We all drove there except for Rich, who walked to the meeting place from his home on Nuuanu Pali Drive just below Jackass Ginger.

From our parking spot by a hunters' check-in box, we dashed across Pali Highway, entering the forest by way of a hole in the fence. A de-ribboned trail (we think hunters take ribbons down) wound through hau, guava, and other exotic tree species. We crossed a dry Makuku Stream and then ascended a gentle gully to reach the Mo`ole Ditch Trail which we followed till it ended at a water tunnel.

We climbed the bank just past the tunnel and in a few minutes were on the crest of Mo'ole Ridge (elev. 1,200). Wing had dropped back a bit and the rest of us waited for him. When he finally arrived in a few minutes, he was a bit perturbed that we had stopped. "No need to wait," said Dr. Ng. "Just put up some f%*@%ng ribbons." Thereafter, we playfully joked with Wing, saying things like, "Okay, don't forget to tie some effin ribbons for Wing!" or "Quit playing with those effin loppers, Wing!"

Our group of seven altogether, we pushed on up the ridge, searching for a way to contour once we were high enough. The objective was to find a way to reach Lanihuli by bypassing all the waterfalls, six or seven all told, in Mo'ole Stream. In late March, a big group from the HTMC went up the stream, negotiating the falls, and eventually reaching Lanihuli.

Via today's ridge route, at about the 1,600 foot level, I noticed a distinct pig trail on the left. I wanted to explore this route but Jay, Mark, and Rich had pushed on past this point, so instead of calling them back down, the rest of us continued climbing, hoping to find another contour pig trail higher up.

Above 1,600, the ridge steepened and narrowed considerably then leveled off while still remaining only a couple feet wide. Right before steep climbing recommenced, the ridge broadened and we found another contour route, again on the left, this time at the 1,800-foot level (Charlotte was giving us readings with an altimeter). Whipping out machetes, we went into chop-mode, moving slowly along the steep slope while looking for the easiest line. We spotted some old orange ribbons for a while but later abandoned the descending route they marked since we thought staying high nearer to the ridgecrest would be more fruitful.

Using the left contour, we were able to bypass the first large nob on the ridge (elev. 2,000). Soon our pig trail petered out, and we slowed to a crawl while bashing, grunting, and groaning through uluhe along a very steep slope. Jay did credible work ramrodding, eventually leading us to a saddle between two small, steep nobs (both elev. 2,000). Wing had fallen back by this point and our yells for him netted no reply but a booming echo from the far wall of Mo'ole Valley. Since Wing is a veteran hiker, we weren't alarmed by his absence. "He'll be okay," I told the others.

While we rested at the saddle, we enjoyed our first glimpse down into upper Nuuanu. Treetops were a couple hundred feet below. We also could see across the valley to the ridge that extends up to Konahuanui. There was a sizable drop on both sides, so we took care not to plunge over.

After the break, Mark led the scramble up the next steep nob and we followed, using branches, roots, rocks, and whatever was available for hand- and footholds. We found no old cuttings nor old ribbons but as we descended the backside of the nob, we discovered an old mason jar, placing it on the branch of an ohia tree. "What's with the bottle?" someone inquired.

Just before the ridge dropped steeply to a saddle on the nob's backside, we sat down to eat lunch. Time: 12:15. The mood was quiet and contemplative during the mid-day meal, and I'm sure everyone was wondering what was in store next. Continuing along the ridgetop would involve a 30-40 foot descent where a rope might be required. Thereafter, the ridge looked broader and gentler, but we'd have to complete the steep plunge to get there. Another option was to descend a steep but liberally tree-ed spur down toward Mo'ole Stream (the topo map shows no appreciable spur there). An initial looksee at the spur bore out no extreme danger, so option two it'd be and down we went.

We were hopeful that at some point on the descent we'd pick up a pig trail running left-to-right across the slope, and sure enough, about 60-70 meters down, we did. With Charlotte now in the lead, more clidemia and uluhe bashing ensued until things opened up a bit in a gentle gully. We found 10-foot fern in the gully, and Charlotte gave me the green light to hack it since it was a non-native species.

We continued cross-slope contouring on pig trails and then found ribbons from our late-March trek into Mo'ole. These ribbons were high up on the slope of the valley, marking the bypass of Mo'ole's last big waterfall. Today, seeing these ribbons perked everyone up, for we knew we were now on familiar ground.

In less than ten minutes, we were standing on the bank of Mo'ole Stream (elev. 1,800), flowing at a minimal trickle. Pausing only momentarily, we hiked upstream for a couple minutes then ascended on the left a ribbon-marked trail up a steep spur that topped out on Alewa Ridge at the 2,160 level about a half-mile from the summit of Pu'u Lanihuli. This spur is aprox. 200 meters in length but it's a strenuous 200 meters.

Once we reached Alewa Ridge, Jay, Mark, and Rich continued mauka to the next pu'u upslope (elev. 2,200). Charlotte, Bill, and I decided to rest in the shade of an ohia, and I urged the upslope trio to set off for Lanihuli (elev. 2,700) if they intended to summit. Only Mark continued on, and, while resting, we followed his progress as he humped his way to the top. The afternoon was a perfect one for summiting, with no clouds at the top and pristine viewing conditions in all directions.

After cresting out, Mark didn't linger long at Lanihuli, and when he descended past the halfway point to where we rested, we packed our things and began heading down the brushy but still distinct Alewa Ridge trail. In about half an hour, we were altogether again just makai of the straddle-ridge saddle, regrouping at the 2,160 lunchspot pu'u on the ridge.

Not far makai of pu'u 2,160, we veered left, leaving Alewa Ridge to descend a spur to Nuuanu opened up by Brandon Stone and friends. This route was well-marked, quite open, and quite varied in terrain, plantlife, and grade of slope. The spur parallels Alewa Ridge for maybe half a mile then makes a leftward swing to drop down to Mo`ole Stream. A first-timer to this route (as were the others), I enjoyed this segment, particularly a large clearing in the forest near the stream where several huge banyans dominated the landscape.

From the stream, we followed ribbons and paint-marked trees along a pretty distinct trail, eventually ending up back at the ditch tunnel entrance. We all were surprised to emerge there but we were pleased nevertheless since again we were back on familiar trail.

The return trip along the ditch trail passed quickly, and we all dashed safely across Pali Highway to our cars through a momentary break in the Kailua-bound afterwork traffic rush. End time: 4:30.

--DKT


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